Matrubhoomi – India in Essence

Matrubhoomi is not merely a fine movie.

It’s also a fine essence of India with its chilling depiction of various discriminations – against women, against lower castes, against a girl child et al.

It’s the injustices arising from these entrenched and oppressive discriminations that constitutes the true face of India not the few software firms or call centers employing a few thousand coolies or the purloined Bollywood films that thieving directors unleash at ever frequent intervals on a naive or indifferent public.

While Matrubhoomi is set in the lawless Hindi belt of North India where the name of your caste and the boom of your gun mean more than the rule of law, the discriminations are no less in the hinterlands of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka in the south.

After all, inhuman discrimination and gross injustice are the cornerstones of all of India not just of a few corners.

While Matrubhoomi touches upon various discriminatory practices, its just claim to fame owes to the accurate portrayal – and outcome – of a society where the girl child is more often than not treated as a curse.

Not surprisingly, female infanticide/foeticide is rife in the land. The movie mentions at the end that 35 million girls are missing in India over the last 100 years because of gender discrimination. It’d have been nice if the director had spent a few minutes and spelled out the reasons for such outrageous practices by weaving the explanation into the story itself.

Written and directed by Manish Jha with a cast of characters that includes Tulip Joshi, Sudhir Pandey, Sushant Singh and Piyush Mishra, Matrubhoomi is one of the better movies movies to emerge out of India in the last 10 years.

While Matrubhoomi is not the best movie we’ver seen, it certainly is one of the best movies to come out of India.

Set in a rural milieu where decades of female infanticide and foeticide has ravaged the population of girls and led to very few girls being available for marriage to boys in the area, the movie is the tragic account of a beautiful young girl Kalki (Tulip Joshi), whose father callously marries her away to five brothers in exchange for a hefty bride price and a couple of cows.

Kalki’s travails start soon after the marriage – she’s raped night after night by the male members of the family, the pater familias included.

When the young girl attempts to flee her forced destiny, it turns out to be a terrible disaster bringing further harrowing misery as she’s caught in the crossfire of caste wars.

The acting of all the characters is solid, the story compelling if cruel, the screenplay meticulous and the movie, which is set in the rustic ambiance of Ranhai Kala village of Harda district of Madhya Pradesh, seems so realistic.

The most vivid imagery in Matrubhoomi has little to do with the violence at the end of the film but more with the sight of the young girl Kalki tied to a post in the cattle shed near other cows as punishment after her attempted escape.

To some of us, the finest Indian movies are the creative gems like Matrubhoomi that hold a mirror up to society, not the totally-divorced-from-reality and stolen-from-Hollywood Bollywood trash filmed in Miami, Peru, Namibia or Sydney.

(If you live in the U.S., Matrubhoomi is available on DVD at Netflix.)

14 Responses to "Matrubhoomi – India in Essence"

  1. aditya_k   December 31, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Watched ‘shaurya’ today…..its brilliant…there are several movies like matrubhoomi made here every year…only, they don’t make it to U.S….only shitty movies like singh is kinng release there…..seen hazaaron qwahishen aisi? highly recommended…. Responds:

    You write above: seen hazaaron qwahishen aisi? highly recommended

    Will watch Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi on Friday or Monday.

    Plan to see Shaurya next week. We like Rahul Bose – a decent actor. Added both to our Netflix queue.

    Have the Netflix-like services like seventymm made it to smaller places like Kharagpur?

    What would you do if you want to watch an old Hindi, English or an old/new Tamil movie in your city?

  2. StrYngLad74   December 31, 2008 at 11:37 am

    “The most vivid imagery in Matrubhoomi has little to do with the violence at the end of the film but more with the sight of the young girl Kalki tied to a post in the cattle shed near other cows as punishment after her attempted escape.”

    IMO, the most vivid image of the movie for me was Kalki waking up, seeing her new-born, and managing an unusually content smile. Considering the cruelty she was subjected to not long ago, it was a very touching and poignant moment.

    Talking of Tulip Joshi, how good was she, eh? Responds:

    You write above: Talking of Tulip Joshi, how good was she, eh?

    We’d place both Tulip and Sudhir Pandey (the guy who plays her father-in-law) in the good category.

    But then Matrubhoomi is a movie in which the entire cast delivered.

  3. StrYngLad74   December 31, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Sudhir Pandey is a dark-horse veteran of Doordarshan TV serials and parallel cinema. He deserves kudos for a lot of work he has done prior to this film.

    Now….where’s that AB TAK CHHAPPAN review? Responds:

    You write above: where’s that AB TAK CHHAPPAN review?

    Next week or the week after.

    It was originally ahead of Matrubhoomi but then we pushed it down because Matru sounded more intriguing and more importantly Tulip is more ogle-worthy than Nana Patekar. Much as we admire Nana, it’s hard to drool over the guy.

  4. Skjoldbjærg   December 31, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Shaurya was inspired by ‘A Few Good Men’, I heard

  5. Skjoldbjærg   December 31, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I was thinking that Tulip was a two-bit Tollywood actress.. a google search yields some bikini pictures.. She probably felt that time was running out(b. 1979 – older than Kareena) and jumped into Tollywood..

    My new year’s resolution.. stop being cheap and get a netflix membership.. atleast i can get some blu-ray discs to play on the bd player.. have been waiting for redbox to go BD.. but doesn’t look like it is going to happen anytime soon. Responds:

    1. Tulip is light years ahead of Kareena in the acting department.

    BTW, the first search result of ‘Tulip Joshi’ on YouTube is a Telugu cleavage video of Tulip.

    2. For $8.99 a month, you get 1 DVD at a time + instant play (the $4.99 doesn’t give you instant play).

  6. StrYngLad74   December 31, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    @Tulip is more ogle-worthy than Nana Patekar

    That she is. Maybe Nana is ogle-worthy without his trademark fungi-laden beard 😀 ? Guy is a cop in ATC, and hence sports only a mustache.

    @Skjoldbjaerg “Shaurya was inspired by ‘A Few Good Men’, I heard”

    I’ve heard that and that’s the reason I might not see it. However, I’ve heard Minissha Lamba is in it. So, I’m sure SI would be interested in seeing it…not for her acting talent, but to ogle at her boobies 😀 . Responds:

    1. You write; However, I’ve heard Minissha Lamba is in it. So, I’m sure SI would be interested in seeing it

    Yeah but Minissha has a trampish look (as in Kidnap).

    2. Taking of boobies, before Rudy Giuliani gentrified the Times Square area in NYC there were quite a few joints where you could not only look but also feel. There were even a few 25-cent peep-show joints in the area run by our Sardars. We are now talking of 10+ years ago. So only old-times may remember those joints.

  7. StrYngLad74   December 31, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    “Tulip was a two-bit Tollywood actress”

    She is very capable of much better work. Hurts for me to know someone would waste their talents doing such work. Then again, the likes of Amrish Puri, Manoj Bajpai, Sayaji Shinde, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Irrfan Khan, Ralph Fiennes, are also great talents who have done some REAL STINKERS. Responds:

    You write above: Hurts for me to know someone would waste their talents doing such work

    The girl’s gotta eat, right.

  8. Skjoldbjærg   December 31, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    @Lad – Which Ralph stinker are you talking about.. Maid in Manhattan?

  9. StrYngLad74   December 31, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Which Ralph stinker are you talking about.. Maid in Manhattan?

    That, and Avengers. I am not a big fan of his starring in the Harry Potter movies either.

  10. aditya_k   December 31, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    we have CD rental stores here…thats it…I usually download movies from the campus LAN network(its around 60 terrabytes-90% full of movies)…. Responds:

    Thanks. We have some DVD stores too like Blockbuster & Moviegallery but they are all slowly dying.

  11. SRINIVAS   January 1, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Summer 2007 is one more Hindi movie in this genre …talks about farmer suicides ….. Responds:

    Thanks. We just looked at the summary on Netflix. Sounds interesting.

    We’ll watch it shortly.

    BTW, the movie features one of our favorites Gul Panang.

  12. indiansinuk   January 3, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    few SuggestioFs
    1) Add comment link should appear just after the blog post.
    2) Your registration form needs a captcha.

    One Request:-
    Can We possibly quote your blog on our blog sections for indians in uk and us sites. ofcourse with due credits to the source and with a link to your blog? Sorry to bug you guys here as I couldn’t find a contact-us thing easily. Responds:

    In Hindi, they have a word to describe folks like you – CHOR.

    Who gave you the right to copy our Matrubhoomi review and post it on your site. Shameless swines.

    There’s nothing wrong in putting an excerpt or hyperlinking to a story (that’s the nature of the web) but you’ve stolen the complete review.

    You can’t even take refuge under the weak defense that it was posted by an outsider because the Matrubhoomi Review was posted by your administrator (Yes, we have the printout & printscreen of our content stolen by you).

    You steal & then you have the gumption to ask us if you can quote our blog. Don’t you have any shame at all?

    Begone, scumbag.

  13. gk   January 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Karuthamma (1994) is also of the same genre focussing on female foeticide… Responds:

    Karuththamma seems like an interesting movie.

    Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t have it.

  14. indiansinuk   January 5, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    “You steal & then you have the gumption to ask us if you can quote our blog. Don’t you have any shame at all?

    Dear blogger!
    We are sorry that someone in our content writing team (which uses admin Id since its a CMS based site) by mistake had copied whole of your review rather than an excerpt but before doubting our intentions and using teenage verbal abuse for us like “swine” n “chor” you should have analysed with cool mind as why like a decent netizen we asked you for your permission and that we didn’t forget to put URL to your review on those blogs. If we were running cheap sites, we could have done it without your knowledge at all.

    I am sorry! I (my personal opinion, not my company’s) had a very high impression of your intellect and maturity and expected a favourable response from you. But it seems your disillusioned state of mind about everything Indian was quick to make a little biased and -ve opinion about our sites.

    Anyways, I assure you that those blogs on our sites by our admin team will be deleted within 24 hrs.

    Last but not the least, as a senior member of the team behind those high profile recently launched sites I can assure you that we are TOO BIG to risk our reputation for mistakes like these. We were wrong in anticipating your favourable response to our request and we are totally fine to remove the concerned blog on our sites.

    We are Sorry for all the trouble!
    Good Luck! Responds:


    1. When you steal (even if it’s by mistake) you apologize and move on. You don’t piss off the robbed party by throwing mud at them by calling our justified anger teenage verbal abuse or casting aspersions on our intellect and maturity. Bloody Swine. As if putting our URL at the end absolves the act.

    We give you the benefit of doubt that it may have been stolen by mistake.

    Errare humanum est perseverare diabolicum.

    You’ve apologized. Now, move on. But we don’t want your asinine lectures against us for our justified anger. Comprende.

    2. You write: I can assure you that we are TOO BIG to risk our reputation

    Yeah right. Madoff was TOO BIG. Sanjay Kumar was TOO BIG. Enron was TOO BIG.

    Again, it’s possible that it was all a mistake. And we give you the benefit of doubt.

    Now, begone scumbag. Don’t show your ugly mug here ever again.

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