Samay | UP/Uttarakhand | MP/Chattisgarh | Bihar/Jharkhand | Rajasthan | Aalami Samay

'Begum Jaan': It's no 'Mandi', but an experience

This is no "Mandi". Damn, it is not even anywhere near the raw guttural emotionalism of Madhur Bhandarkar's "Chandni Bar". But "Begum Jaan" holds together very ably to the end, thanks to writer-director Srijit Mukherji's confident hold over his characters' doomed destiny as they journey from deflowering to destruction with a raging fire in their whorish hearts. These are women whom time or the tides of men cannot defeat. They are strong and they use their sexuality to survive. Srijit has cast sensibly for each of the sex workers in this 'period' drama (Vidya Balan drawls about menstruation with a kind of medieval glee that actress Nadira expressed in "Mud mud keh na dekh" in "Shree 420"). I am not sure if these actresses match up to their memorable peers in the Bengali version "Rajkahini". In fact, this is as good a place as any to mention that Rituparna Sengupta's central performance in "Rajkahini" as the Madame of the endangered brothel was far more jolting than Vidya Balan.