18 December 2008
Deepak Rauniyar’s Debut Film Threshold: Claims and Counter Claims
By Harsha Man Mahrajan
Decoding a text is always a subjective matter. So what I am going to write about Deepak Rauniyar’s debut film, Chaukaith (Threshold) might not be what you think about the film. This film won third prize in 6th Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival.
It has a simple story. Trisna, an enumerator of Census visits a woman living in a Tarai village. Her name is Saraswati Gupta but people know her by her village’s name. Not her own name.
Trishna’s visit enlarges Saraswati’s understanding of world. Trishna throws a stone in Saraswati’s calm and serene pound. And Saraswati’s life no more remains same as before.
In the beginning Saraswati feels uneasy with Trisna. She has no habit of speaking with strangers. But her hesitation gradually vanishes and they become good friends. And gradually Rauniyar unveils his characters. We come to know more about their lives.
Saraswati, a mother of two daughters has grudges: her early marriage discontinued her study. She was studying at ten class and due to her marriage she could not appear Schooling Leaving Certificate (SLC). Trishna requests Saraswati to restart her study. But Saraswati thinks her husband will oppose this. He scolds her even if Sarawati goes to market.
Saraswati has a son from a failed marriage. She asked for divorce when he barred her from working outside the home. Saraswati could hardly believe that due to the given reason a woman can leave the husband. She was putting up her husband for a long time. She never had courage to leave her husband.
Saraswati even sings on Trishna’s request. But her singing ends abruptly when her husband returns. He brings fingerchips for daughters and pani puri for Sarswati. Seeing his affection towards his wife, Trishna even becomes nostalgic. In evening she leaves Saraswati and sets for Kathmandu.
At bedroom, she leaves bed when he requests her to move towards him. We can say he wants fulfill his sexual desire. But Saraswati informs him that she is feeling tired. He repeats same demand. So she opens the door, passes the threshold, and goes to other room for sleeping. And the film ends.
As said earlier, people can interpret this film in different ways. Some might say it is old bikashe story which equates woman rights in leaving the husband. Marriage is more complex than the film has presented. For them this is no solution. They blame social norms and value not the husband. And for them, the husband is victim of society too.
Other might ask “Where is a ground for leaving the husband. The portrayal of the husband is far from complete. He is not evil enough to leave. The story lacks conflict between Saraswati and her husband. He cares her and being the wife he has rights to ask for sex.”
Some might even agree with Deepak. They might say: “The husband is not cruel one; he is the breadwinner. Yet he needs to appreciate her desires and aspirations. He has never done this.”
Other might agree with Deepak. Many things happen in a spur of a moment. At these moments we never think about the result. So Saraswati must have leaved the bedroom in the given situation.
What do you think?
Review of the film and photo source: