By Abhijit Nair
Sairat is a 2016 Marathi movie directed by National Award winning director Nagraj Manjule. Presented at the BFI Southbank as part of the India on film season, it weaves the sensibilities of a classically Indian love story with a social commentary on the existing dangers of inter-caste marriages that exist in rural India.
Sairat is two narratives rolled into one. The first is an elaborate love story full of playful moments and songs illustrating the carefree abandon of teenage love. It endears you to the protagonists Aarchi (Rajguru), the daughter of a powerful local politician and Parshya (Thosar), a fisherman’s son and sinks you into the colourful, vibrant place the world seems to be in the throes of newfound love.
However, their love story is harshly hijacked when Aarchi’s father discovers their fledgling love and hence begins the second narrative- intense, mournful and emotional. It is here that the film sets itself apart from other love stories that have come out of India. It morphs from a dreamlike state to an often nightmarish one as the protagonists must resist the full weight of the caste based, patriarchal community which is still the reality in villages across India.
By the end of the 174 minute movie, Manjule conveys to us the hopelessness and despair this can instil in the lives of many Aarchi’s and Parshya’s and the distance that Indian society still has to travel to rid itself of the evils of casteism.