I finally got to see "Matrubhoomi", Manish Jha's hard-hitting film about a future India where infanticide (and presumably female foeticide) has resulted in a severe imbalance between the numbers of men and women in the population. The result is that virtually all men in the film are unmarried, except for the family at the crux of the film, where all five brothers marry the one woman their father and his marriage-broker ally have been able to find. The hapless bride has no choice but to service all the men around her, by nightly rotation. I do not use "service" lightly: the denial of personhood to women, that is, the conception of woman as mere instrument, is one of the central themes of the film, a bleak notion from which there is no exit, not even when the village where the film is set explodes into caste violence (the trigger for which is the question of which of two communities the woman "belongs" to), not even when the film concludes on its ostensibly hopeful note-- the birth of a child. Why "ostensibly"? The child is a girl, and although her mother smiles upon seeing her, a dark future awaits her.
In a word, the film is grotesque, calculated to offend, and its vision of a dystopia with hardly any women, and the women and men who are products of such a society, is searingly effective, to the point where I felt unsettled even hours after the movie had ended (and can't really imagine wanting to watch it again). It is unquestionably a polemical piece of work, but just as unquestionably, Jha is a talented polemicist. As an aside, one welcome feature of the film is that none of the film's many forced sexual encounters are presented in anything like a titillating manner. The overall effect is of a world where everyone is stripped of dignity (with the women the most disadvantaged of all).
Baradwaj Rangan (one of my very favorite reviewers on Bollywood and Tamil films) has a fuller review on Naachgaana.com.
Aside: In a welcome move, the film has been released in six languages (including Bhojpuri), as opposed to merely being shown at one festival or another. That fact makes a world of difference, between the anthropologizing gaze of those who imagine themselves wholly removed from the world of the film and a brave attempt to hold a mirror up to society.