Umashree, K G Krishnamurthy, M D Pallavi, Praveera, Poornima Mohan, Ashok Sandip
A poetically beautiful film by Girish Kasaravalli, from Karnataka.
Girish Kasaravalli, an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India, has previously made 11 films in a career spanning three decades, all of which have won national, international and state awards including the Indian president’s Gold and Silver Lotus awards. In Gulabi Talkies, Kasaravalli weaves an almost flawless, multi-layered film, allowing conflicting spatial and temporal elements to interact and co-exist in harmony. The narrative draws once again on his favourite theme: the duality of human behaviour, explored through the story of an individual pitted against vast socio-economic and political turmoil at the end of the 20th century. Gulabi is a middle aged woman who lives alone and is well known as an expert midwife. Abandoned by her husband, and childless, her life revolves around the local cinema which she loves passioniately. When called for an emergency delivery in the middle of a film, Gulabi refuses to attend. The only way she can be persuaded to do so is with the lure of a television. Her mundane existence in a thatched hut, in an unknown little fishing village in coastal Karnataka, is changed forever with this sudden introduction of colour television into her life. Her home becomes a social hub, as the village women begin to weave their dreams, desires and sorrows around the world of the soap operas they view. Subsequently, the arrival of mechanised speed boats in neighbouring fishing waters, following governmental policy changes, brings further upheaval to the lives of the local peace-loving fishing community. Simultaneously, this alters Gulabi’s life forever – in a way that she could never have imagined. Gulabi Talkies is based on a short story of the same name by Vaidehi, one of the greatest writers of Kannada literature, and Kasaravalli’s treatment is refreshingly different. Far from depicting her as a victim of socio-economic policy, he pays fitting tribute to the strength and courage of a woman who keeps her dignity intact in the face of severe obstacles.
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