Critic's Rating: 3/5
Thursday 17 April 2003
A brutal look at the injustice and oppression faced by the Indian woman in this day and age forms the crux of RajKumar Santoshi?s Lajja.
The film revolves the main protagonist Vaidehi (Manisha Koirala) who is married to a billionaire NRI Raghu (Jackie Shroff) in America, but is very unhappy with her marriage as her husband is a Casanova with a roving eye. Despite her complaints, she fails to make him see sense and after a showdown with him, she returns to her parents home in India, only to find that they refuse to accept her back with open arms. Unfortunately, Raghu has an accident, which leaves him unable to have children but when he finds out that Vaidehi is already pregnant, he wants his child at any cost. He calls her back, but after she gets to know that he only wants the child, she refuses to go back and escapes from the airport, only to have Raghu?s men following her.
Vaidehi finds herself in an airport cargo truck headed to Nagpur, and there she comes across the first victim Maithali (Mahima Chaudhary), when she gets into a marriage ceremony to hide from the husband?s wrath. Maithali is a young girl, who on her marriage day sees the turmoil and humiliation her parents have to face from her in-laws, as they are unable to arrange dowry in time. She calls off the marriage after she realizes that such a relationship is a sham and Vaidehi is a party to her sad plight as the groom leaves the marriage pyre only because 50 thousand is less to complete the five lakhs demanded by his family.
On her journey, next she meets Janaki (Madhuri Dixit), a stage actress who lives in her own world. In her, she finds one more woman who has gone through a lot of suffering growing up in the world dominated by men. Janaki is pregnant by a co-actor in the acting troupe who has promised her marriage, but she is heartbroken when he tells her to have an abortion after he suspects that the child is not his, but that of the theatre owner Purshottam (Tinu Anand). Vaidehi finds the exuberant, vivacious and independent Janaki turn into a wreck as her man leaves her high and dry. Janaki finally finds herself forced into a mental institution after she exposes the plight of women right from the days of the Ramayana on Stage. The men watching the play insist that she go to the asylum as she is not in her senses and in this turmoil, she loses her child.
Finally, Vaidehi meets RamDulari Kaki (Rekha), who lives in a small village. She is the local doctor and encourages women from the village to get self-sufficient by earning a living. In her, Vaidehi sees a strong independent woman, who tries hard to see that women get educated and get self-sufficient. But Vaidehi is shocked after RamDulari is gang-raped and later burnt by local village Zamindars, Vijendra (Gulshan Grover) and Gajendra (Danny) after they find out that their daughter is involved with the low-caste RamDulari?s son. Finally, Vaidehi manages to expose Gajendra at a felicitation ceremony and Raghu realizes that his wife is indeed a very brave and strong woman and he mends his ways.
The good thing about Lajja is the subject. It?s a very hard-hitting look at the women in urban and rural India. But the treatment towards such a serious issue is sometimes a bit too filmi and sermonizing. Anu Malik?s music is average and excepting the marriage number, all the other songs are forgettable. Another plus point is the performances of the cast.But the film has its weaknesses too. It gets a bit heavy, as there is no comic relief. Also the duration (3 hours plus), is yet another downer.
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