This film is an adaptation of book, by the same name, by author Shivmurti. The novel depicts the sufferings, predicaments, and exhortation of the rural folk, peasants, laborers, the women and all the oppressed individuals of Northern India. The film begins with the molestation of a young Dalit girl, Rajpatiya (Padmaja Rai) by the local Brahmin landowner’s brat Chandar (Abhishek Madrecha), in Badgoan village. Chandar and his family use their powerful positions in the village hierarchy to intimidate and threaten the hapless family but Bhaiji (Sanjai Kumar) the resident ‘Jai Bheem’ activist gets involved and ensures that the victimized family exaggerate the offence to rape, bringing the offence under the “Harijan act” which allows for immediate incarceration and denial of bail to the accused.
Throughout the narrative, the victim and her family end up as pawns in the hands of those wily middlemen with political affiliations, who try to create obstacles in the way of justice. This film aims to expose the systemic flaws in the judicial process, shadowing lawyers, police and politicians from both sides, who use varios loopholes to gain ascendancy for their respective clients. The film is strong on story but the treatment is not always on point. The film starts of strong, it builds for some time, but then things end up getting haywire since it tries to delve into too many areas, rather than sticking to the journey of a family fighting for justice. The screenplay should have been more focused.
The technicalities of the film work with the type of story that is being told. It is raw and rustic. The framing, cinematography and editing works together smoothly. The background score has a strong regional flavor to it. Performances by actors, Nand Kishor Pant as Rajpatiya’s father, Poonam Alok Ingle as her mother, Vandana Asthana as Panditain (Chandar’s mother), Neelam as the victim Rajpatiya, and Padmaja Roy as Lavangi (the maid) stand out as the various points of view within the caste, class and gender hierarchy. Once again, the film has a strong story and well fleshed out character, but the overall journey loses steam.
Overall “Tarpan” is worth a watch for knowledge sake, and to understand the flaws of a hierarchal society where the rules aren’t the same for everyone. One wishes there was more tention, and intensity in the film, but overall it is a decent watch.
STARS: 3 stars.