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Mithun Chakraborty, Sushmita Sen, Anuj Sawhney and Ila Arun

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 19:51 IST

Two-thirds into the film and I was still frantically looking for the chingaari in the script. I wondered whether it was the same Kallpana G Lajmi who made films like Rudaali and Daman.

The spark finally did appear. It came from Basanti, the prostitute with a nothing-scares-me attitude, who lashes out at the village priest warning him not to come in the way of her dream — of protecting her family, of getting her daughter out of danger. Sushmita, as Basanti, is outstanding at this point and makes up for her more tepid display of acting earlier.

If Sushmita is more than vocal in that sequence, Mithun Chakraborty as the evil and hypocritical village priest, Bhuvan Panda, is a perfect foil for her anger.

All in all, Chakraborty pulls off a difficult role with ease. He doesn’t speak much in the film but conveys his feelings through his body language. Chingaari stands out in the last half-an-hour thanks to gripping performances.

The film, based on Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s book, The Postman And The Prostitute, is about double standards, love, archaic values, religious fanaticism, frustration and a dream.

It is Basanti’s story and through her Lajmi tries to highlight the ills committed in the name of religion. The problem, however, lies in the screenplay (Lajmi), which appears too insipid. It is only the performances of the actors, including that of Anuj Sawhney who plays Chandan the postman, that hold the film together.

Aadesh Srivastava’s music is okay and the number Dank mare stands out.

Lajmi’s films have often won their protagonists National Awards. Rudaali got one for Dimple Kapadia and with Daman Raveena Tandon won the coveted award.

However, Sushmita’s performance in Chingaari may be overshadowed by the lank script.

Overall, by Lajmi’s standards, Chingaari could have been a much better product.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 19:51 IST