Astitva which literally means “identity” is a bilingual Indian film (Hindi and Marathi versions) directed by the talented Mahesh Manjrekar in 2000. With outstanding performances from the cast particularly from the ever brilliant Tabu. This movie over the years has become a cult classic in Indian cinema. To analyse why this movie is considered a classic a surgical dissection is required. The dissection is a follows:
The tagline of this movie which states “Is a woman’s destiny….. a man? is the concept of the story. In the Indian society which is not only is male dominated but conservative too the idea of a woman having her own identity is certainly way ahead of its time and, this is the primary reason that makes this movie is great.
- The Plot:
Is quite simple and, revolves around a married couple Aditi and Shrikant Pandit. Life seems to be like another day in paradise for the couple until a one night stand that Aditi had many years ago which also led to pregnancy is revealed. There have been movies made in India that have had plots highlighting male infidelity but, very few showcasing woman infidelity and its regressive repercussions, and this is what makes the plot not only great but unconventional as well. So due credit must be given to Manjrekar himself who is also the writer.
- The story/screenplay:
Of this powerful movie begins with a blissfully happy upper middle class Indian family Aditi and Shrikant Pandit and, their son Aniket. It is during a social get together with Shrikant’s close friend and his wife that Aditi receives through registered mail a will of a dead man named Malhar Kamat. According to this will Aditi is to be the sole heiress of Kamat’s properties. This will and the reason behind such generosity arouses suspicion in Shrikant’s mind. Thus begins his search to unravel the truth and, this forms the crux of the story.
The screenplay is brilliantly written and is nonlinear as the story moves back and forth in time. The use of a “Diary” by Shrikant’s character to note down his thoughts for the day is brilliantly used in the screenplay as a tool to reveal the truth.
- Moral of the Story:
With the basic concept of the movie being complex. There are quite a few lessons to be learnt from this story. They are as follows:
- A woman’s desire is similar to that of a man. Unfortunately many men like Shrikant do not understand this.
- A woman should seek to have her own identity whether married or not.
- A woman is mentally superior to a male.
- Male chauvinism is a grim reality of the Indian society and, a male chauvinist will always remain one and can never change.