Kajarya (2013, written and directed by Madhureeta Anand)
[No. 52 of 52 in #52FilmsByWomen]
This one is a gripping, and perhaps disturbing story about a village in India where female infanticide is practiced.
Kajarya refers to a woman (Meenu Hooda) whom the villagers believe is the embodiment of a goddess Kali. Unwanted female babies were given up to her and her lover Banwari (Kuldeep Ruhil), where they kill and bury them. Meera is an investigative reporter determined to uncover the truths behind the village as she struggles with the uncooperative villagers wanting to protect themselves and their practices. Ridhima Sud wonderfully portrays her as someone who tries to balance her ambition, life, and her own sense of justice and morality as she makes hard choices in reporting the story.
(Brief aside: She has a striking resemblance to Stefanie Joosten from Metal Gear Solid.)
The disturbing topic aside, we get to see the different cultural sides of India between its highly religious villagers and Meera, who lives a more liberal city-life. Meenu Hooda is excellent as Kajarya as she portrays her with much depth and complexity, especially for someone complicit in infanticide. In any lesser film, she would easily be a one-dimensional “evil witch” archetype, but this film manages to convey the cultural context where such a real-life practice exist to this day.
If anything, this movie has been a great way to bring awareness to female infanticide. When told through complicated human characters, it helps give a better understanding than just a detached reading of a news article.