Lajja has got to have to longest and best emotionally-biting monologue in pseudo parallel-would-be-commercial film in the history of Indian cinema. Pseudo parallel because subtlety isn’t exactly the film’s strongest point; it’s got some over the top drama, comedic moments, big stars, musical numbers , chopping of the limbs, and a super evil baddie that gets a la chancla  payback. Plus, a big BIG social message.
Are you kidding me? I love it. This is my second time watching, and I moaned, denounced, clapped, sang, shouted at the screen, called people names, and cheered.
I was so into Manisha Koirala’s ‘shame on you‘ monologue, I tried to make an image sequence of it. It’s impossible. It’s so long, but here’s part of it. Considering, the not so recent events in Delhi and Mumbai, Lajja is more relevant now than ever. It freaking needs a re-release, and more freaking women need to get off their bums and watch it.
Here’s the complete quote:
l do feel a sense of shame! A land where womenfolk are given the exalted position of Goddesses, a land where people scale mountains singing glories to the Goddess Mother- A woman, a mother, was raped and burnt alive, and no one even bothered to inquire. Such is the hypocrisy of a nation in which l was born. l’m ashamed of that.
To see my menfolk remain mute spectators to atrocities perpetrated in their presence, l feel ashamed to acknowledge their impotency. l feel ashamed when l see womenfolk rendered helpless. “This is what women should do. And this, they mustn’t. This is right for her, and this is wrong.” To those who shackle the minds of the womenfolk, l ask how many more sacrifices do you need? How many of us will you kill?
Even today, in several villages the female child is killed at birth. Several unmarried girls kill themselves for fear of not taking enough dowry to their in-laws, and yet others are burnt alive after marriage. Even before a girl can think for herself, she is married away as if she were a burden they want to get rid of. A woman who has not borne a child is spurned with the label of a barren woman. ls a woman only a baby-producing machine then? Does she have no personality of her own? Does she have no identity she can call her own?
There are people who raise a storm in the name of culture and religion. Why don’t they raise a voice against these evils? In a society where the one who speaks the truth is declared “mad,” and the one who remains silent is called “wise.” Who will ever speak the truth? l have spoken the truth, and l know l will be burnt alive today. And why not? Because this is the nation where Sita, who returned safely from the clutches of Ravana, was forced to stand a test by fire by her own husband, Rama! From Sita to Maithili to Janki to Ramdulaari, so many women are being charred in vicious fires! And they will continue to burn in the future! Because we do not feel a sense of shame anymore! Every trace of shame and humanity is dead for us.
Now learn it and say it in one go~ xD
This is my fv scene too. relevant even after a decade and a half..which is sad. i like the announcement at the beginning of the movie. Instead of saying, ‘the story and characters are fictional and imaginary…”, Santoshi says, ‘None of the characters or situations in this film are imaginary or fictional, really speaking. They are echoes of what is happening all around us in our so called civilized society. At best, these voices- cries and shrieks, pleas and whispers- have been amplified for deaf people to take note. After all, the greatness of a civilization can only be measured by the status of its women.” This is when one realises what a sensitive film this would be. The movie is a bit melodramatic, but never over the top. I saw it thrice. Once with my grandma who is a social worker!! Loved Manisha in it.
Yeah, I noticed that! It was a nice touch. Sometimes I want to re-watch so many movies, but I find it hard to find the time to rewatch a +3hr movie xD
By the way, if you like Manisha, you must must watch Dil Se..It’s the performance of a lifetime!!!
I’ve actually seen a couple of Manisha movies- of course, Dil Se… – actually first saw her on 1942: A Love Story, and Khamoshi: The Musical while exploring Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Calcutta Mail while watching Rani’s films, and Bombay. but… if you know what other movie I should watch of her, I’ve been actually looking forward to watch some of her other films.