When I say, I'll be writing about a movie belonging to the Indian cinema which released in 1983, what generally comes to your mind? A "sanskaari" film. Just the usual drama? Black and White? Well, Mandi is way ahead of what we perceive a film of the past century would be like. "Mandi - Politics and Prostitution", quoting the title is enough said. And exactly made me fall in love with this movie of the parallel genre? It was humorous yet there was sadness that you can feel which has an impact as the movie progresses. The movie is majorly about:
Well, it's unsettling, that a movie revolving around the life of the mistresses in a brothel was portrayed back then, but hey, it was portrayed and how! There's innocence and somehow it happens to make us realize how difficult their life is. The constant struggle, the shaming, backlash they have to face on a daily basis and how can we forget the judgemental society that surrounds them. For them, it is an art and that is the beauty of it. Unabashed, they do what they do with pride and earn their livelihood with dignity.
Politics doesn't even spare the lives of these women, simply because they believe that prostitutes are easy to fuck around with. Driven by selfish motives, the politicians are there to make the ladies' lives miserable and are determined to take away the "kotha" which is so dear to them.
The character portrayal by each actor who is a part of this ensemble is a work of finesse. Be it Naseeruddin Shah playing 'Tungrus' or Smita Patil as 'Zeenat', they have done absolute justice to the roles they have played. Soni Razdan's mere presence in the movie is powerful, let alone her playing the role of a detestable 'Nadira'. About Shabana's character as 'Rukmini Bai', her preparation for the role is nothing less than spectacular.
If Mandi is to be defined in one word, it will be hands down "relations". You will be in awe of Shabana Azmi's character "Rukmini Bai", who loves the girls in the kotha like her own children, the warmth and affection can be felt. But it is not only about love. Like any other relationship, the dynamic of the relations of these characters in the movie had an element of honesty, jealousy, trust issues, and betrayal.
Liberating oneself from the protective wings of a loved one is what is absolutely significant about this movie. Freeing yourself even when you're treated like a princess and finding your true self is one of the few lessons you learn while you're nearing the end of the film. You definitely learn a thing or two about facing hardships and experiencing life as it happens to you.