Sati, the first wife of Lord Shiva had jumped into the sacrificial fire in protest of the abuse her parents had done to her husband. Commemorating it, an inhumane tradition continued for thousands of years in which a woman burnt herself alive on the pyre of her dead husband. Women who were saved from the practice were rare. Only Mandev’s mother has been mentioned in the ancient history saved from the tradition. And then there was Rajendra Laxmi, the daughter-in-law of Prithvi Narayan Shah. Thirty one Satis burnt themselves at the death of king of Patan Yog Narendra Malla. During the reign of Laxmi Narsingh Malla, Kaji Bhim Malla was persecuted for a crime he did not commit. His wife, while sacrificing herself on the pyre of her husband, cursed: May the rulers of this country lose their rationality!
Jhola (English: Bag) is a movie based on the story of the same name by Krishna Dharavasi (Dharavasi literally translates to- one who lives in the Earth) was the most anticipated movie of 2014. Speaking on the evil practice of Sati, the story of Dharavasi had gained immense popularity- credit to the radio programme Shruti Sambeg and genuine lovers of Nepali literature. What was the custom? What were the pains? Yadav Kumar Bhattarai has shown well as the director of the movie.
As soon as the production declared the making of the movie, everyone was eager to know the development. The movie’s shooting was given utmost importance by the national level magazines and TV shows. The actress, Garima Panta rose to fame. The post-production was keenly watched over. Content, everyone knew. How would it be presented? Major curiosity lied on the presentation of nudity. Complete nudity was mentioned in the story. How it be shown in a movie that had audience of conservative mindset? This curiosity had also made up a newspaper article.
The movie opens with a song by Sumnima Singh of Night- the same band I had featured in January. Krishna Dharavasi and his family make a special appearance in the present (2058 B.S.). He discovers a paper (letter) inside a bag left by an elderly man earlier that day and reads it.
The story opens in the year 1971 B.S. at an Eastern Hilly Village of Nepal. The writer of the letter is about 9 or 10 years old while his father is more than seventy years old. Shockingly, his mother is just twenty-seven. As his father lies on deathbed, his mother undergoes many troubles to take care of her son and household.
One day, the old man dies. The boy is then under the care of his uncle and aunt (both older than his mother). His mother is declared a Sati and she is made to perform several rituals before she offers herself to the burning pyre. However, she escapes without the notice of the processors. The boy finds her and takes her away to Manipur, India.
Social Evils and their Eradication
The movie presents some other social evils along with the tradition of Sati. Unequal marriage, treatment by witch-doctors and slavery are the evils of the era movie is based on.
Sati Pratha and Slavery were abolished by the Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher in the years 1977 and 1981 B.S. respectively. But as the movie says- Evils in our society still linger. Widows were burnt once then. Now, they are burnt several times by the society. Unequal marriage, child marriage still prevail. Dowry system is growing up as another evil. Everyone should be united to fight against these evils.
The movie has been well presented. Such a presentation is rarely seen in low-budgeted movies of Nepal. Village life in the hills of Nepal has been well depicted. The story is supported by the acting. The illness of the old man seems real. The rituals after his death are well-shown (although there could have been finer details of the procession). The background music is catchy and melodious. The cinematography and the lighting is good, although there is need of improvement at some points. The only thing I felt bad about was the transition between the scenes and the scenes that occur rapidly after the death of the boy’s father.
Overall, the movie is the best literary adaptation in Nepal.
Director: Yadav Kumar Bhattarai
Story: Krishna Dharavasi
Screenplay: Krishna Dharavasi / Deepak Alok
Music/ Lyrics: Jason Kunwar
Singer: Sumnima Singh
Sujal Nepal (Lead Child Actor)
IMDb Rating: 8.8/10
1. Jhola at Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
You can watch the movie at: https://youtube.com/watch?v=tvSSDYsOHxw