Pitaah - 2002


A bleak, God-forsaken hamlet presumably in northern India is the scene of the action. Avadh Narayan Singh (Om Puri) is the only God the villagers know ? significantly, Shikarpur is one rare Hindi movie village that does not have a temple of its own. The Thakur runs the place from the confines of his palatial mansion. One of his bonded labourers is Rudra (Sanjay Dutt) who makes the best of a bad bargain in the company of his wife, Paro (Nandita Das) and his three little children. When the two drunken, debauched sons of the Thakur rape his nine-year-old daughter, Durga (Tanvi Hegde), Rudra's patience runs out and, egged on by his tenacious wife, he wreaks vengeance on the perpetrators of the heinous crime.

Pitaah isn't about the trauma and anguish of a child injured in body and spirit or about the pain her simple-minded parents feel. Nor is it about the inability of the judicial system to provide moral succour to victims of feudal mayhem. It is essentially about the invincibility of a father scorned. And that's where Pitaah goes completely wrong. Too many contrived devices are allowed to mar the film's generally realistic tone. A mujra in a police station or the flashback of happier times - represented predictably by a joyous song and dance number ? seen through the eyes of a harried woman moved by the plight of her two hungry son are, structurally, totally out of sync here. To make matters worse, the body count is extremely high, as is the blood and gore quotient, attributes that deflect attention from what should have been the film's central concern, but
eventually isn't.

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