Hellaro | Film

In movies to be precise. There is something to be said about the musical genre. Often times, it’s mistaken for a film where characters are always smiling or just simply singing or dancing their emotions as they come. Yes it is that but it’s also more. To illustrate this point I’m going to use a film from a film industry that at the same time uses it to great effect and completely botches it. Indian cinema.

Hellaro, is a Gujarati Language film inspired by a folk tale about a village that worships a goddess with songs and dance but refuses to let its women take part in any of the dancing and the singing. Women are also pushed to a further end of the extreme by doing all the work and when they take small breathes, any calamity that befalls is blamed on their “vile” actions. It’s an interesting film to watch but that’s a thing for another time.

The story kicks in when Manjhri arrives after being giving her hand in marriage to this soldier in a village in Gujarat. And in that village, elders absolutely forbid women to play Garba. A dance game performed during religious festivities to honour the feminine nature and the womb.

As perplexing as that sounds, this premise drives the women in the village to seek freedom in whichever ways they can. Mostly when they collect water from a nearby river. There they take the time to talk about their troubles and be themselves. In the village, the widows are told to never leave the house, wives are supposed to close the doors while the men dance, sing, drink and socialize. On the way to the river is the only time they get to breathe a little.

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