On a sultry Sunday afternoon, I was hopping the TV channels and stumbled upon ‘Sardari Begum’ – one of the movies I was fond of. I started watching it all over again. It’s surprising how your interpretation and viewing experience changes over a period of time, for the same movie. Your interpretation is outcome of your current state of mind and being.
When I watched ‘Sardari Begum’ for the first time, I loved her and I loved the movie. I was drenched in acting skills of Kiron Kher and Rajit Kapur. This time, it took me to different radar. I judged her. I evaluated her actions and intentions. I could only see her as a mother.
Earlier, my movie viewing experience was derived from the factors like story execution, acting nuances, background score and cinematography involved among others. Now I tend to explore relationships. The way a mother makes choices in her life and her daughter perceives it. The way a father hides his trauma to save the sanity of family. The way grand-kids put the missing pieces of a family to revive the lost identity. The way an awkward family operates.
Coming back to ‘Sardari Begum’, this is what Wikipedia tells us “The police is called to investigate the death of a woman during a riot in the walled city of Delhi. She was killed by a stone thrown by an agitated mob. The woman killed is known in the community as Sardari Begum (Kiron Kher), a popular singer and courtesan. The religious nature of the incident and the impending elections combine to attract the media’s attention.
When a young reporter covering the funeral, Tehzeeb Abbasi (Rajina Raj Bisaria), discovers her father among the mourners, her curiosity prompts her to investigate further. Then comes the revelation that the singer was in fact her aunt, who was disowned by her family for rebelliously learning music from a concubine.”
Sardari Begum had a mind of her own. She kicked her husband (Rajit Kapur) out from her home as he was believed to encroach all the money, she had earned from her singing. She refused the proposal of re-marrying the director of a successful music company as he was reluctant to accept her daughter.
She had a tiff with her brother when he wanted to return the money she gave him once. She made choices. Bold and firm. Later, she was judged. Her daughter hated her for snatching her father from her life. Sardari Begum never put her daughter to school, instead she wanted her to sing. She wanted her daughter to take the legacy forward.
Sardari Begum never liked the male friend of her daughter and refrained her from meeting him. She wanted her to focus only on singing. She wanted to pass on her own priorities to her daughter like a legacy. She did things her own way. Right and Wrong. She fought bravely. She made mistakes. She trade-off things, relations, security, finance and future. She won few, she lost many.
Her parting words were, “Kya mai ek aachi ma thi?” (Was I a good mother?)
While making mistakes and winning battles, she always wanted to be a good mother.
What do you think? “Kya woh ek aachi ma thi?” (Was she a good mother?)
Amrita Thavrani is a mother to a two-year old daughter. Occasionally blogs at amrita.thavrani.com. Say hello to her while strolling at the tweet street @TheSeeSawMother.