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aka The Liberated Woman 1994 154’ col Marathi d/s Jabbar Patel pc Sarala Pics p Ashok Mhatre dial Sanjay Pawar lyr N.D. Manohar, Jonaci Patel c Shankar Bardhan m Anand Modak lp Sonali Kulkarni, Avinash Narkar, Shriram Lagoo, Reema Lagoo, Vikram Gokhale, Caleb Obura Obwatinyka, Madhu Kambikar, Prashant Subedar

Wordy melodrama suggesting a link between the condition of Dalit ‘untouchable’ castes in Maharashtra and the lot of African-Americans (the Dalit Panther movement in 1970s-80s Maharashtra had expressed support for the Black Panthers). Mukta (Kulkarni), daughter of a US-based Marathi poet (Gokhale), returns to her ancestral village to complete her education. At university she joins a street theatre group of Dalit activists and falls in love with the group’s leader (Narkar). The group attacks governmental indifference to violence against Dalit women and Mukta’s participation severely embarasses her uncle, a State Minister in the ruling Congress Party. The ‘local’ problem, posed by Mukta’s Westernised liberatedness, escalates into a new dimension when her black American friend (Obwatinyka) visits her, leading briefly to a love triangle. In the end, the divides in the family as Mukta’s parents prefer to split the joint family rather than curtail her right to decide her own future, are mapped onto new political allegiences. The unusual twist in the plot comes when the American youth accompanies Mukta’s grandfather (S. Lagoo) on a pilgrimage to Pandharpur, recalling the Marathi Saint poets’ struggle against caste inequalities, and sings black songs while urging the old man to recognise the intensely contemporary nature of race and caste discrimination.