Director Madhureeta Anand's Kajarya belongs in the horror genre. Not horror of the make-believe, fantasy kind but horror rooted in the reality of the times. The film with a central theme of female foeticide fittingly opens with an ominous soundtrack that sets the tone for the next two hours.
Set in a Haryana village, Kajarya (Meenu Hooda) is a widow and an 'outcaste' of sorts who is projected by her lover-friend and local goon, Banwaari (Kuldeep Ruhil) as an avatar of Goddess Kali, believed to possess the 'divine' powers that bestow sons on families hankering for them. Besides 'blessing' the couples, Kajarya, in an alcohol-opium stupor is made to kill unwanted baby girls too.
Soon arrives a rookie journalist Meera Sharma (Riddhima Sud) from Delhi, in search of a story. In her eagerness to make it big, Sharma takes back an under-nuanced story of the killings, and in the pursuit of hitting the front pages of her newspaper and career progression, breaks her promise to Kajarya of keeping her identity under wraps in return for a tell-all. What follows is a tumultuous churning in both the women's lives.
Anand manages to set fairly complex contexts in which the women live—one urban, the other rural. Divergent, yet similar. One played as a puppet to the system in an opium induced state, the other high on cocaine, chasing personal ambition.
The film throws up the schizophrenic nature of society, people in cities can have as much regressive attitudes towards women as their village counterparts—shown through Sharma's rich boyfriend's parents who think killing baby girls before they are born might be a better idea.
The lower caste village hangman is shown as progressive—whether it's standing alone in his care and support of Kajarya or bringing up and educating his daughter irrespective of the dominant sentiment of the village men towards girls. One of the poignant moments in the film is when Sharma returns for another interview with Kajarya in the jail and the women's lives converge. A now sober Kajarya comes to empathise with the young coked-out journalist's life who must now confront her own truths.
The film gives out the message of women power coming together, whether it is the village women deciding to stand by each other or Sharma realising the impact that her work can have in the pursuit of the actual truth.
Powerful performances, good casting, deft editing and a somewhat documentary style make this film that deals with a burning social issue—over ten million baby girls have been killed in India in the last 30 years says the ending—a worthwhile watch.
Director: Madhureeta Anand
Cast: Meenu Hooda, Kuldeep Ruhil, Riddhima Sud