Swara Bhakar is indeed a talented lady, and she chooses to channel that talent towards the kind of roles we don’t see mainstream actresses picking up easily. She played the poor single mother who tries to make ends meet and get her daughter educated in Nil Battey Sannata. And now she has taken up another strong character to show that women when determined to fight and live, do fight and live.
It is a well-known fact that certain small towns in our country still have open shows, wherein women dress up provocatively and put up erotic dances with double meaning songs for both the economically lower section of men as well as high profile politicians and officers. These shows of drunken revelling with an onset of obscenity are definitely something nobody wants to be associated with. Even people who watch these shows and openly lust over the female dancers don’t want to have anything to do with them once out of the frame. But let’s not forget there are a group of singers, dancers and performers who make a living from this profession. These people enjoy their art, their music, their playful banter when sitting and preparing for the late night shows. Yes, there is a side of vulgarity and immorality involved, but would it have been alive without its enablers.
And that’s the story of Anaarkali. A beautiful, voluptuous small down erotic dancer whose world is her stage and her admirers who she loves to tease with her tiny bursts of attention and flirting. She knows here looks, voice and stage presence is famous and she is happy in her life of flamboyance and lights. There is a dark side to her story like every other story, a past she chooses to sweep under the rug and lead a normal life. But her life moves on.
The blow comes when a high profile government official attending her show, loses control over his desires and topples over to the stage. In this state of drunkenness he gropes and molests her in front of hundreds of spectators all witness to this humiliation. Anaarkali being the headstrong woman that she is does not allow this act to go unsung. She doesn’t give in or let him treat her the way he thinks she deserves to. Amidst the corrupt, sold out police and goons, Anaarkali fights back a man whose lust for her is both cringe worthy and disturbing. The story progresses with our protagonist falling, fighting, running, hiding, but not giving up.
Sanjay Misra, a multi talented actor usually seen in comic roles plays the local politician, too blind in his obsession for Anaarkali. Sometimes truly hilarious and sometimes truly vile, he plays all the shades just right. Pankaj Tripathi as Anaarkali’s stage partner and love interest tries to keep the balance between his love and friendship for her and his helplessness in front of the police and politicians. And of course, Swara Bhaskar performs to excellence a character made just for her. Her diction and gestures are impressive and surprisingly so is her dance. She convinces us to root for her and deep down fight the fight with her.
But like all movies, Anaarkali of Aarah does have a few weak spots. The story though compelling, is in some places frail and seems patched up. Things somehow just fall into place in the end, the right people seem to be in the right place at the right time, it’s just too ideal. Almost like a rush to get the story completed to the appropriate conclusion. Some scenes are a tad too melodramatic, making the scene a little too filmy. Apart from these minor glitches, this is one of the good movies of the year and worth a watch. And how can I forget, “No, means no”.