in English) is a 1985 Hindi film directed by Ketan Mehta
The film opens with an arrogant subedar
(local tax collector in colonial India) and his soldiers rampaging through a village. The subedar has an eye for women and soon spots Sonbai on the riverbank. Sonbai is an intelligent, beautiful and strong woman. Her confidence intrigues the subedar
The film moves deeper into the village. The subedar
holds ultimate authority over the village. Subservient to him is the mukhi
(village chieftain) and all the villagers. The villagers do their best to scratch out a living, of which the subedar
invariably exacts a heavy tax. We learn also that the villagers are mostly illiterate and ignorant of the outside world. The subedar
and his men routinely attack the village and raid the food, livestock and supplies.
is a haughty and cruel man. He exploits his power in every possible way. The villagers are compelled to keep him satisfied; they regularly set up parties for him and his men, often at great expense to their meager means. They also arrange a steady supply of women for his pleasure.
means well but is generally weak and powerless before the subedar
. His principal goals are to negotiate concessions to the tax and to keep the subedar
happy. The safety and security of the village are mostly dependent on the moods of the subedar
, and so he tacitly arranges to keep the subedar
sated and out of his way. The mukhi
also represents the... Read More