In which I chose the wrong week to blog a movie a day…
Matrubhoomi is quite a dark piece of Indian social commentary. The film opens with a woman giving birth to a girl, and shortly after we see the parents drowning the baby in a tub of milk. Only boys are valuable; girls only cause a family grief and money. Not only can she not bring the family any substantial income, but she also requires a dowry for marriage.
We meet a family–make that a village–of men, but there are no women left. No upper class, no lower class. Young boys from the lower class do the domestic work, for the upper class. The father (whose wife died some time ago) of the family we focus on still searches for a woman for his eldest son, and one day happens upon one who’s been kept hidden by her father.
That’s where I’ll stop with the plot summary. What follows is difficult and deeply disturbing, and is capped with statistics about the reality of the situation. This is one of the most successful films I’ve seen that employs a kind of “What if?” scenario to explore a social issue. (A fairly recent example of a film that does this–but without much success–is called A Day without Mexicans.)
This is a feminist film to the core, and we can’t get enough of those these days. Through the shocking violence we get a critique of sexism, classism, and religious corruption that is entirely surprising and decidedly not-American in its clear, intelligent argument.