'Uvaa' review: Muddled Messages
By: Sonia Chopra
Friday 26 June 2015
Mohit Baghet, Sheena Bajaj, Manish Chaudhary
Most films suffer the curse of the second half, where a promising film plummets downwards, post-interval. Here, it's quite the opposite. A headache-inducing first half transforms into a reasonably better second.
The film meanders on aimlessly showing us the very unlikeable students of a high school. Our central protagonists belong to villages and are enrolled in an English-medium school in Faridabad. The students are usually prone to punishment, which is often of the 'murga ban jao' variety. Otherwise they mull over their crushes, their classmates, whom they disturb during class. That's the students. The professors are a step ahead.
Sanjay Mishra's aged professor is crushing on the young English teacher ("Isse karvachauth nahin karvaya, toh mera naam badal dena"), the yoga teacher is hitting on the sports coach (Sangram Singh), and yet another commands the students to make a "straight circle". We watch these shenanigans, repeated ever so often, dispassionately, waiting for the interval coffee fix.
The second half, which seems like another film altogether, is fairly better. The three boys, gallivanting late at night, find an injured girl on the road. She's in a terrible state and the students take her to the hospital, complete the formalities and help in every which way.
The story, loosely based on the Nirbhaya rape that shook India, shows that the victim is so badly injured, she might slip into a coma. The boys and other college kids rally around the victim's family for help and organize protest marches.
The apathetic police, as was the case in real life, reacts with force, but the crowd is in no mood to relent. An F.I.R is filed, and Archana Puran Singh, a mother of a friend of the victim's family, steps in as their lawyer.
Meanwhile, the film superficially touches on several topics-the lack of efficacy in the judicial system, prison rape, protection of women and so on.
We are always attentive to the story, having somewhat warmed up to the three central protagonists, even if the proceedings don't always add up. The film has some heart-rending moments like the father of a student talking about the foolish naivety of youngsters wanting to bring about a change.
Now here is where the film falters dreadfully. For one, there is no attention paid to the rapists at all, shown as three morose faces in the courtroom. Secondly, the film throbs proudly with a song whose lyrics speak about how if anyone hurts their mother or sister, they will hit back. Now this is exactly what human rights activists have been saying - to stop defining women in these roles, and to view them as individual human-beings.
Then there are the sexist dialogues here and there, where one father praises his daughter by saying she's 'like a son'. Or where a student is coaxed into leaving drugs, because she is a girl and a girl is the family's honour.
But most importantly, the film's finale is utterly unconvincing, objectionable in its insinuation that being a being a woman is a punishment, and jarring, in that order.
In that sense, the film talks about women's rights while including these sexist elements, and gives a muddled message. However, the film redeems itself to an extent by the story it chooses, the issues it touches upon even if briefly, and a few genuine moments.
Rating: 2.5 stars