Movie Review: Chingaari

Celluloid realism makes waves. Kalpana Lajmi's "Chingaari" is one such film which pushes for socio-religious reform and the ugly nexus between sexual oppression and religion. Based on an Assamese short story titled "The Postman and The Prostitute" by the late. Bhupen Hazarika, Chingaari is filled with flaming colours such as red, green and black. The film explores rural fanaticism through the miseries of a prostitute. It further explores various facades of womanhood. 
The DVD Cover of Chingaari

Set in Rangpur village, the film revolves around a group of prostitutes with Ila Arun as the main head. The house is a feast of raunchy repartees and has terrifying sexual innuendos which reach blood-curdling proportions when the village priest Bhuvan Panda (Mithun Chakraborty) pays a visit to Basanti (Sushmita Sen). The scenes of sexual repression filmed on Sushmita Sen and Mithun Chakraborty become too repressive and graphic. 

To a point, I felt that subtlety in depicting their sexual friction would have added the lyricism and sensitivity the film needed. The romantic chemistry between the postman Chandan Mishra (Anuj Sawhney) and the prostitute (Basanti) is limited due to very few shared scenes. Secondly, Chandan is seen as the lone voice of reason in a village that it is deeply embedded in superstition, fear, bigotry and cultural terrorism propagated by Bhuvan Panda. 

Sushmita Sen has a striking screen presence and comes into her own with an intense performance that is unparalleled in her career. She pulls off the role with great dignity. Some of her best acting abilities are seen in her key confrontation scenes with her tormentor Bhuvan. Her dialogue delivery ranging from hushed whispers in a romantic moment to an spine-chilling growl in the climax, Sushmita Sen takes her character to a dimension that seems impossible.

The brutality and oppression of her life are marked with a fine performance by Sushmita Sen and Mithun Chakraborty. The storyline despite being temporally somewhere in the Bihar-West Bengal border, goes to depict a larger picture of female oppression and gender discrimination. Kalpana Lajmi's film then transcends to become a document of acute suffering in a universal sense. Chingaari undoubtedly belongs to Sushmita Sen and she imbibes the colour and tone of the film very well. 

Her striking screen presence gives this disturbing film on sexual politics a gloriously universal side. At 2 hours and 35 minutes long, the film has a racy pace and is a must see for the darker shades of humanity and the inherent hypocrisy evident through the course of the film. Another reason to watch the film is for Sushmita Sen who creates a magnificent matrix between desire and fulfillment.


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