Ahalya: Film, Reflections

In the Panchakanya strotram, five women are praised for their qualities of head and heart, to use a cliche.

Ahalya, Tara, Mandodary, Sita and Draupadi are these women- if you know enough about them, you will know why they have been eulogised thus.

Ahalya, given the first mention, as a consolance to the ignominious fate she had to endure- she was turned into a papa- sila, aka stone of sin, for having slept with Indra, the God of the Devas who tricked her in the guise of her husband RIshi- Gautama. Of course, the argument went, had she really been a pure woman, she would have sensed that the ardent lover  in Gautama’s form was not her true spouse, would she not? If you cannot make sense of that logic, well, join the gang. Presumably physical expression of love was not Gautam’s forte and so when the lust ridden Indra went to meet Ahalya, in Gautam’s  body form, come on, says the critic, she being a devoted wife, should have/ could have/ bloody well shouldacoulda/… Eh?  No? Tough luck! Go, check your own morals, sorry amorals…

Well, better intellectuals and souls have debated ad nauseum on the ” purity” of Ahalya. I have compassion for the poor woman. Doomed to be a stone for being a woman. Punished for wanting love. Something resonating with the way Renuka, Parasuram’s mother was punished. Poor lady got her head cut off for being late for the prayer ritual. She had stopped to stare, you see, at a Gandharva and his consorts, indulging in water play- enjoying hedonism with such abandon. On that, later.

I wanted to write on Sujoy Ghosh’s short film ” Ahalya”. Very interesting 14 odd minutes.

Ms .Apte who opens her house door dressed in a silk shift that screams- seduction, seduction , was probably the most obvious- what do they say- red herring in the plot. Yeah, one does read ” Indra Sen” in the cop’s nameplate as he leans  near the camera.  If you have browsed through blogs on the topic, you must have by now, read about the obvious inspirations like the Spanish short film Alma ( simply brilliant!), Satyajit Ray’s  story of ‘Professor Shonku and the mysterious dolls’,about Roald Dahl’s award winning horror story ” The Land Lady” et al. (I was wondering if Hitchcock  was inspired to do Psycho from that one too, after reading the tale:)

Watch Ahalya at peace. Then sit back and ruminate. Or else, much better, laugh out at the cleverness of the director.  Turning into stone  has never been more interesting.

I am, in the meanwhile, wondering on the limitless possibilities of our epics to be the foundation of many a short film, loosely inspired by vernacular and foreign classics.

A Conan Doyle inspired- c’mon very generously- Speckled band- and Takshaka’s bite and  the Pareekshit tragedy. How does a worm turn after all, eh? It can be woven with the tale of Somerset Maugham – there is that  Malayan archipelago story about the worm in the head causing hallucinations- in the battle between men over a woman.

So you have a worm, a serpent,  an eponymous detective, a legend,  a writer, a woman, two men.

Name of film: Pareekshit! Howzzat?

Whoa- I am taking a break from mixing too many ingredients in the cauldron.Cannot afford for anyone to think that the writer is stoned, eh?


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