After the not-too-impressive MONSOON, director Jagmohan Mundra is back with BAWANDAR, which is a distressing story of Bhanwri Devi, the famous grass-roots social worker and gang-rape victim, who has been fighting for justice.
BAWANDAR stars Nandita Das, Raghuvir Yadav, Deepti Naval, Rahul Khanna, Laila Rouass, Gulshan Grover, Govind Namdev, Ravi Jhankal, Ishrat Ali, Anupam Shyama and Lalit Tiwari.
A rural low caste woman working for Rajasthan government's woman's development programme called Saathin, Bhanwri Devi was raped in 1992 by four men from the upper caste Gujjar community, for her courageous stand of advising people to give up the practice of child marriage.
Her real rape began when she was made to run from pillar to post in a judicial system corrupted by sexism, chauvinism, feudalism and political opportunism, Jag tells us.
She has been cut off from her community for complaining against rape by high-caste members and for trying to stop them from violating the law, but she is still fighting her case.
The names of the characters have been changed in the film to avoid legal hassles.
Sanwari (Nandita Das) is the wife of rickshaw-puller Sohan (Raghubir Yadav) and a mother to two kids. Sanwari is approached by a Saathin worker Shobha Devi (Deepti Naval) to take up cudgels against the prevalent system of child marriage. She does so with dynamism and in the course, invites the fury of the villagers belonging to the Gujjar community.
To restrain her, they rape her in front of her husband, after beating him up and holding him captive. With Shobha's help, a distressed Sanwari manages to register her case, which creates a sensation in the country. She is even awarded a lakh of rupees by the P.M.O.s office, but she loses the case in the tribunal court.
Against all odds, she maintains her dignity and courage as a woman and from a rape victim becomes a rape activist. It is a shocking true story, set amidst the picturesque sand dunes of colourful contemporary Rajasthan.