( Daayen ya Baayen, directed by Bela Negi, is a film about her conviction. For so many other reasons this film becomes special also because of its cast that includes Girda. For those who dont know, Girda was known as the man of masses, the voice that moved the conscience of the Uttarakhandis. Girish Tewari, the multifaceted man, better known as Girda, was the first to turn up wherever people's issues were being taken up. He wrote and sang many poems and songs that were sung during the movement for a separate hill State of Uttarakhand. His compositions lately lamented the near total absence of development of the hills as dreamt by the Uttarakhand agitation leaders. He passed away after a brief illness on 22nd August 2010.)
We have a new film in the horizon, a film which, surges far ahead of the monolithic narrative tradition of Hindi cinema, and has been invented on an entirely new level of story-telling.
Seeing the film is like taking a deep sip of life. Its finely nuanced portrayal of life’s many colours is sometimes found in novels but rarely seen in films – and never in Hindi novels or films. However the film manages to pack dense complexity of ordinary life in the story and yet remains a light-hearted, feel good entertainer, which is no mean achievement. I have no doubt that this debut film by Bela Negi, graduate of FTII, Pune, will prove to be a milestone in Hindi film.
The film recounts the story of a village lad called Deepak who tries out his luck in the big city. Unable to gain a foothold after years of struggle, he returns in frustration to his family back in the village. At first, the villagers are enthusiastic about this city-returned young man with plans about their future. Their enthusiasm soon dies down when he gets into the specifics. His idealism only provokes their amusement, and soon enough, the ground reality of village life begins to bruise his high-flown dreams. All this is told, however, without any laborious graveness, and with amusing ease.
One day, he wins, quite unexpectedly, a bumper prize in the form of a car. He learns, to his wonder, that a sample from his dabblings in poetry was sent to a contest for the best jingle for an advertisement. He becomes an instant celebrity, and the recognition that his talent has craved from the rural folk finally comes his way. His newly acquired status also lands him into unnecessary debt, and soon the car is put into use as a taxi, even a milk carrier.
The plot is rich and complex. Most films have been made on much less substance. It is next to impossible to pen down the richness of the story on paper. Every character is a world in itself. Every misadventure an independent story. The film’s narrative opens hitherto closed windows into our social life.
Yet the vicissitudes and continual disappointments of life are not enough to shake Deepak’s optimism and hope for the future. What is cutting to him, however, is the gradual disappointment with life’s promises he begins to see in his son’s eyes, and the consequent loss of confidence in him. The final part of the story of his struggle to retrieve the respect that he thinks he has lost in his eyes.
I wish Bela Negi the best for the splendid debut with which she has begun her film’s career. I am sure that, with every new film, she will continue to excel herself.