While various films have been made on honour killings, it doesn’t take much to figure why debutant director Rajeev Bhatia’s Haryanvi film ‘Pagdi: The Honour’, also the story of a patriarchal society, won a National Award earlier this year. The filmmaker conveys his message through a simple narrative yet strong performances in the 100-minute-long film.
A special movie screening was held at a local cinema multiplex on Wednesday evening in the presence of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
In the name of honour and stereotypes
A family drama, ‘Pagdi’ is the story of a man who loses his reputation and respect in society due to his son’s love interest. Based in Haryana’s Kajla village, the film deals with inter-caste marriage woes and how eventually, parents come to realise the need to respect their children’s choices irrespective of social pressures. The movie title is a metaphor of how a typical family’s honour is at stake if their children decide to marry outside their socio-economic milieu­­­ in Haryana.
A natural set-up
Besides the rural settings, the acting skills displayed by the cast makes the film what it is, given the award-winning performances by Ravi Chauhan as Mangeram and Baljider Kaur as Imarti Devi. Of the 29-member team that worked consecutively for 37 days to wrap up the shoot, 27 members made their debut in the award-winning film, all of whom belong to Hisar. As if that were not enough, no makeup has been used even for a single member in the film. Costume designer Vandana Rajeev deserves a special mention for giving the characters a natural day-to-day look, in sync with rural set-up’s beliefs and conservative outlook. Similarly, be it the humming of bees or the early morning sound of crows in villages, Bhatia succeeds in his endeavour to make the audiences believe as though they themselves are leading the characters’ lives.
It is difficult to believe that Jalandhar-born Baljinder Kaur, who won the National Award for best supporting actress for her performance, didn’t know how to speak Haryanvi until she took up the project. Given the gritty rustic woman she plays, who struggles as wife and mother to keep her family intact in a misogynistic society, Kaur’s expressive performance must be lauded. With an experience of over 20 years in theatre, she says, “I actually worked hard. I wouldn’t change my clothes even behind the scenes to get into the skin of the character, to the extent the SHO mistook me for a ‘tayaji’ who had come to report a case, when we were to practise scenes at the police station.” The film also stars cine actor Yashpal Sharma.
The director is happy that the film has received a National Award, but is curious to know the response of the public. Trained by the likes of Ketan Mehta and Mukul Anand, he says, “It was a challenge to make this film as no one was willing to produce it given it was my first and that is when my parents decided to do it.” The film has been produced by Rajeev’s wife Vandana Rajeev and his parents Ashok and Shakuntala Bhatia.
Policy to promote Haryanvi films soon
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday said the state government would soon formulate a policy for the promotion of Haryanvi films. Speaking after the film’s special screening of here on Wednesday evening, Khattar announced that the film would be tax-free in the state. It is the first Haryanvi film which has won two national awards - best film (Haryanvi) and best supporting actor (female) awards. He also announced a discretionary grant of `10 lakh for the film.