Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bazaar (The Marketplace) by Sagar Sarhadi

Preachy dialogue mars this otherwise moving film about two couples struggling against poverty and exploitation.


However, only one character in the film, Shabnam, is blameless. Everyone else is guilty one way or the other.

Shakir Bhai is anyway self-centered without any regard for the pain he causes to others with his violent, callous and calculating actions.

Akhtar does not mind sacrificing others for his own advancement.

Salim is Najma's lover but is willing to wait for her to come to him. He is guilty in the whole second act (though self-consciously so) by not intervening in the sordid affair. He only verbally lashes the folks involved, and rails against society with drunken polemics, but doesn't actually do anything. He foolishly pursues Najma even though they have nothing in common, and tries to persuade Najma that Akhtar will never marry her (which is shown to be false later).

Sarju is ineffectual in his attempts at saving Shabnam, because he is too driven by his emotions and does not understand the forces at work. And when effacing himself in front of Shakir Bhai, all he wants is for Shakir to leave his Shabnam, no matter if he goes in for another young thing.

But the really guilty person in the film is Najma. She keeps Salim on a leash for 6 years while being a mistress to Shakir. She calculatingly plans to find a bride for Shakir in order to buy her marriage with Akhtar. Once in Hyderabad, she visits brothels and gets in touch with matchmakers. She knows she is acting criminally, but thinks of making a pilgrimage for washing her sins while the "sin" is in progress. She feels a whiff of guilt only when Sarju tells her who Shabnam is. Does that make her crime any more or less, because Shabnam is Sarju's beloved?

And moreover, she self-righteously leaves Akhtar as if she has suddenly found her "self", as instructed by Salim. And after leaving Akhtar, immediately runs to Salim. So much for being independent.

It can be said however, that she is the only person in the film who undergoes a crisis of conscience and changes because of it. The others continue on their trajectories as if moved by fate.

In my opinion, the parents should have been talked to by Salim and Najma. Salim and Najma should have arranged some money for Shabnam's elder sister's marriage and helped her marry Sarju, and married each other long back anyway.

The editing is quite bad but the director deserves commendations for scene composition, the realistic sets, and the remarkable acting by everybody.

The songs are memorable, composed by Khayyaam and some written by none other than Mir Taqi Mir, the celebrated Urdu poet.

I quote a haunting Ghazal from the film, one of my favorites, in its entirety here:

दिखाई दिए यूँ के बेख़ुद किया
हमें आप से भी जुदा कर चले
दिखाई दिए यूँ के बेख़ुद किया
दिखाई दिए यूँ

I caught a glimpse of her and lost control of my senses
I got separated from myself

जबीन सजदा करते ही करते गई
हक-ऐ-बंदगी हम अदा कर चले
दिखाई दिए यूँ के बेख़ुद किया
दिखाई दिए यूँ

I kept on bowing my forehead to you
And thus completed my obligations as a human being.

परस्तिश किया तक के ऐ बुत तुझे
नज़र में सभो की खुदा कर चले
दिखाई दिए यूँ के बेख़ुद किया
दिखाई दिए यूँ

I worshiped you so much with my eyes, O Idol
That it made you a God in the eyes of everybody

बहुत आरज़ू थी गली की तेरी
सो या-से-लहू में नहा कर चले
दिखाई दिए यूँ के बेख़ुद किया
दिखाई दिए यूँ

I yearned so much for you abode (lane)
that I come bathed in the blood of my despair.

I caught a glimpse of her and lost control of my senses
I got separated from myself

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