An Jo on Fandry
One of the most harrowing sequences/climaxes I have seen in a seemingly ‘off-beat’ film is in Nagraj Popatrao Mangule’s FANDRY [The Pig]. It jolts you to the core regarding the presence/curse of untouchability still prevalent in the remotest villages of India: This is a movie that is Maharashtra-centric and shot near the Ahmednagar area and hence, shakes one’s core more thanks to the irony of the efforts of BR Ambedkar and/or Savitribai Phule.
In one of the most painfully ‘explicit’ but disturbingly shot scenes in – at least – Marathi cinema, is when the family of ‘Kachrya’s ‘ [in Marathi as well as in Hindi, KACHRA means trash; so one gets the drift] untouchable family carries a hung-pig on a bamboo and walks right in front of the images of Ambedkar and Savitribai Phule: It’s a cinematic ploy, but one that is so brutally honest that it hits the solar plexus with a force that one isn’t quite ready to experience: And the reason for that is the writer/director devote almost 30 minutes of this film to the inhuman indecency of a family forced to catch and kill pigs for the ‘betterment’ of the village while the rest of the village watches it as a ‘sport.’ The humiliation and desperation of the boy NOT wanting to be caught by his school-mates and the ‘upper-caste’ girl he has a fancy for putting a noose around pigs is painstakingly captured in the pig-hunting sequence.
The ‘pain’ I encountered after watching this sequence took me back to Doordarshan days when I watched Nasser and Shabana in PAAR trying to cross the river. This was more brutal than that; but thematically, the films captured the same essence. These are ‘lived-experiences’ that one doesn’t really have the rights to write about: What I write about, is NOTHING. It’s not even a minutest fraction of what the folks who experience it day-in and day-out endure. All that I have are words, and words, beyond a point, mean words and nothing else. When Jambvant Kachyra Mane throws the last stone at Patil, I can maybe, thanks to my ‘luck’ of being born in the Brahman caste and having had the luxury of being educated, express feelings and pain, but really, they mean nothing when compared to the ‘lived-experiences’ of folks still caught in the web of oppression.
There is much cinematic brilliance that I can go on and on about thanks to Manjule’s fantastic direction. But I don’t’ want to dwell on that. I think Manjule’s film was meant to be something that struck and shook one at the heart; and I would be doing a dis-service to Manjule’s vision if I were to start dissecting this film as a piece of ‘cinema.’
This is on NETFLIX; watch it for yourself: A highly recommended piece of art that encapsulates life and its cruelty.