Mirroring the crudity that has entered in India's most popular folk operatic theater performance called Nautanki - the biggest entertainment medium in the villages and towns of northern India at one time, some may relate it to those sleazy item songs of Bollywood and the plight of women in India. ANAARKALI OF AARAH is a full loaded crackling ode to women power that echoes with a chorus featuring Swara Bhaskar in a power packed, terrific and flawless act as 'Anar' - the erotic singing queen of Bihar's small town Aarah.ANAARKALI OF AARAH MOVIE POSTERS
Comparing it with Shyam Benegal's 1977 master piece BHUMIKA starring the outstandingly brilliant Smita Patil as the tradition singer from Devadasi community of Goa or the main stream 1968 romancer TEESRI KASAM that featured Waheeda Rehman in one of her most memorable character of Hirabai a nautanki dancer (remember pan khaye saiya hamar
) will be farfetched but yes Ishtiaq Khan's character Hiraman does remind of the kind hearted Raj Kapoor in TEESRI KASAM in a way.
Writer director Avinash Das ( first film) rightly carries the right to say 'No' heard and appreciated in Big B, Taapsee Pannu starrer PINK from the metros and cities to the dehats
(rural) villages of India. So what if Anar is an erotic singer, she is unapologetic about her sexuality, she is no sati savitri
, she does all the suggestive jhatkas
giving men the bawdy time of their life, but that doesn't takes away her right to reject any advances and say no.
Shocking, entertaining and riveting ANAARKALI OF AARAH tells the story of Anar, daughter of a talented nautanki
singer who gets reduced as an erotic singer due to 'public' demand opens the film with a song and her shocking death while performing at a wedding sets the tone. Anar grows up to become the entertainer of the small town in Bihar - Aarah and introduced with words like desi tandoor
and English mein
oven. Anar is charming, free willing and has a heart.
Things go out of control when a function organized by the local police officer Bulbul Pandey (Vijay Kumar) attended by the local VIP and vice chancellor of the local university played by Sanjay Mishra sees Anar been molested on stage in front of the crowd. Unwilling Anar rejects the advances of the VIP in public leading it to a horrible struggle of the singer to New Delhi and how she fights back.
Swara Bhaskar keeps her energy intact throughout her 113 minutes stellar act as Anar. The actress after a brilliant performance in NIL BATTEY SANNATA adds those desi
rustic layers and uses her poise, diction, mannerism and rustic voice as a perfect prop to enhance the character of Anar and make it equally lovable and memorable.
Avinash Das as the helmer is successful in candidly instigating the viewer especially the women audience and those who look for something else in movies the motif gets the required justice on screen but certain quick adjustments and liberties do ring the bell. Anar's first meeting with Hiraman isn't that exciting though later the writer director manages to establish the bond. Predictability sets in at times.
Never the less the climax though on predictable grounds is loaded with lots of energy and real 'nautanki'
. The movie smartly manages to maintain the thin line between crudity and vulgarity and it's not at all a mean achievement.
Rohit Sharma's music does justice to the theme with 'Sa Ra Ra Ra'
by Pawni Pandey and 'Lahanga Jhaanke'
by Indu Sonali turning out to be the pick of the lot. Arvind Kannabiran's cinematography grips up your attention. Jabeen Merchant's editing is fine. Production values are adequate.
A movie surrounded by strong actors, ANAARKALI OF AARAH sees magnificent contribution from Sanjay Mishra as the villain -this actor can never go wrong. Pankaj Tripathi as the leader of Anar's band is outstanding and perfectly natural. Ishtiaq Khan is completely endearing. Vijay Kumar as Bulbul Pandey is fabulous. Mayur More as Anwar is fantastic.
It's debatable how much it will excite the hoi polloi but certainly ANAARKALI OF AARAH is an appositely trenchant and rustic cry for women empowerment backed by Swara Bhaskar's top notch performance.