Move over Sima Taparia from Indian Matchmaking, as the new Marathi feature film “Sthal” presents a compelling exploration of the contradictions inherent in arranged marriages.
Sthal Movie Review Reality of Indian matchmaking
In Jayant Digambar Somalkar’s debut film “Sthal – A Match,” he takes a bold look at the contradictions in arranged marriages in India. It’s a different take compared to the polished presentations in Indian Matchmaking with Sima Taparia. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the NETPAC award, this Marathi film straightforwardly shows how a woman can feel objectified and judged based on her skin color, height, and caste identity.
In “Sthal,” a young bride named Savita (played by Nandini Chikte) faces humiliating questions about her height and whether she can work in the field. The movie unfolds slowly, revealing the patriarchal viewpoint. Set in Dongargaon, a small town in Maharashtra, “Sthal” carefully shows the different perspectives of the characters around the main character. It sheds light on a topic not often explored on screen.
Sthal Movie Review The premise
Savita is a kind and hardworking girl finishing her Sociology degree. She’s busy preparing for job exams, but her parents want her to meet potential grooms. Her father, Daulatrao Wandhare (played by Taranath Khitekar), who is a cotton farmer, watches helplessly. Unfortunately, Savita faces rejection, and in one scene, the men criticize her complexion, saying, “It’s all make-up. Didn’t you see her elbows? They gave it away.”
Savita’s brother Mangya (played by Suyog Dhawas) is excited for Savita to get married so he can introduce his girlfriend to the family. Savita has a crush on her college lecturer, who teaches about women empowerment. As a classmate gets married, Savita feels the curiosity about her own potential match.
In the movie “Sthal,” the story flows smoothly, avoiding the repetition of matchmaking scenes. The deliberate repetition in the dry and business-like conversations aims to show the monotony and humiliation Savita faces each time she meets a potential match. Director Somalkar’s smart script handles these situations carefully. However, there’s a slight issue with the slow-motion and long cuts, which linger too much and disrupt the drama’s flow.
Sthal Movie Review Final thoughts
Nandini Chikte gives a powerful performance as Savita in “Sthal,” bringing depth to her character. As the story unfolds, Savita has to face the oppressive scrutiny of those around her, mostly men. Chikte portrays this with authenticity, showing the weight of humiliation in her expressive face. Another standout is Taranath Khitekar, who plays Savita’s father. In a intense scene, his face reflects the struggle as he tries to talk to a prospective groom’s father. Khitekar leaves a strong impression as the helpless and concerned father, figuring out how to navigate the challenging situation.
“Sthal,” featured at the Dharamshala International Film Festival, explores arranged marriages in India much like Jeo Baby’s “The Great Indian Kitchen.” It delves into everyday situations with a straightforward perspective. Director Somalkar has created a powerful film that bravely sparks discussions on arranged marriages in India, showing both compassion and confidence.