Kalpana Lajmi has always been a thought-provoking director, but with her latest, Chingaari, she has only provoked complete and utter puzzlement. What on earth was she thinking of, with Chingaari? This is unarguably her worst effort at filmmaking, and such a film, coming for a respected and reputed director like Lajmi has still left one dazed and disoriented!
Chingaari, another woman-centric film from Lajmi, comes with a large dash of religion too, but the film does not even flicker. It is based on the story of a beautiful young woman who's in the oldest profession known to mankind - prostitution and is set in a tiny north Indian village. It isn't very clear whether the village is primitive or simply that people are just trying to be as primitive as possible looking very forced indeed.
The plot has three central characters and a bunch of supporting actors and actresses. The story is set in this village called Rangpur where the dialect is Awadhi. The hamlet shown in the film has this area chalked out for prostitutes called Lal Batti. Basanti (Sushmita Sen) is the most wanted prostitute of the lot. She is the object of the bristling lust of the head priest of the village, Bhuvan Panda (Mithun da).
The lustful Bhuvan Panda is evil personified, and spares nobody not even the prostitutes. At most other times, he indulges in emotional exploitation of the hapless, illiterate and simple village folk, haunting it like a nemesis. Mithun excels in the role.
Before long, there comes a new postman to the village a young man called Chandan Mishra (Anuj Sawhney). He's a man with more than a satchel of mail he's got a mission too. That of bettering the lives of the miserable prostitutes and the villagers, but most of all, that of Basanti, whom he falls in love with. He pens letters as an anonymous lover and shows respect for Basanti. He even expresses his desire to marry her an give her daughter the name of a father. Basanti, never the recipient of such clean affection, falls for him, and before long, that becomes a slap on the ego of Bhuvan Panda! Chandan loses his life in the process. Then comes the 'revolutionary' part of the film. The climax is the one among the many miserable sequences in the film.
Basanti compared to devi Kali is portrayed in rather cliched way. She even gets her tongue out and screams like her! There is an' intense' dance that Basanti does which is unfortunately evokes laughter rather than be taken seriously. The film ends with a message that such things have no end. As I said, one's still disoriented! This isn't like a Kalpana Lajmi film at all, and sadly, it goes on interminably for three hours, trying your patience no end. Lajmi has gone overboard to show poverty, the desires of men, Vaasna and more. There are several scenes in the film that are steamy to the extent that one wishes they would stop! Sushmita Sen over acts, and her dialogue delivery is too accented for an Awadhi speaking prostitute in a remote primitive north Indian village. The scenes where Basanti is making Bhuvan face the music, and the one in which she is mourning the death of Chandan are simply overdone.
The film was intended to be a matter of substance film but it falls short. It has a poor script and a screenplay that leaves you confused. And the audiography is deafening! The background score, the adaptation of Bhupen Hazarika's book 'Postman and the Prostitute' through additional dialogues that are poorly delivered add to the film's woes.
Mithun has done a commendable job as a villain. He is just right for the role. His appearance on screen angers you, which is good news for him as he is the bad guy. Anuj is just about middling and needs to put more efforts to prove himself as an actor