Ahalya

Sometimes a moment of weakness is all it takes, for the vision to blur and for the world to come crashing down. That millisecond in time when, in the battle between the right and the wrong, the good and the bad, the wrong wins. A momentary lapse in judgement and one loses sight of one’s own compass.

But does a moment of weakness define a person.

The deed would definitely determine the intensity of the misstep. What is but a small lapse of overindulging on a scrumptious cake, cannot be likened to a more serious crime committed in a provoked, heat of the moment.And for the very same reason, pre-mediated murder and voluntary manslaughter have been accorded their distinctions in courts of law.
But what if such moments occurred with unerring regularity? I would think, if that indeed were the case, one should be more equipped to guard against the mis-step versus a sudden one-time manifestation of an emotion.

Today I would like to present the much acclaimed Sujoy Ghosh’s Ahalya (Running time: 15 Mins). A short film seeped in suspense and intrigue.Having purposely withheld from discussing anything about the film,as it’s difficult to do so without revealing too much, let me take the liberty of continuing with the rest of my ruminations after the movie.I would also advice you to refrain from reading my post any further until you have watched it.

 

Spoiler Alert from here:

Watching the movie after having read virtually next to nothing about it, was a big plus and I enjoyed it purely as a entertaining thriller with the unexpectedly spooky and eerie ending.Hopefully you too were not restricted by the baggage of knowledge and the resultant filter that would have imposed.

Eventual reading of multiple reviews revealed, that it is being touted as a “contemporary or rather a feminist remake” of the old story of Ahalya. To quickly recap,

“In the old story of Ahalya, Ahalya who was the wife of the old sage Gautam, has an adulterous relationship with Indra (who dupes her by taking the form of Gautam) and on being discovered, both Ahalya and Indra are cursed. There are variations to the story on whether Ahalya was innocent and was actually duped or was a knowing partner in the act. Innocent or otherwise, in all versions, she’s cursed to being a stone.”

I would be hard-pressed to call it a “feminist remake” essentially because even the modern day Ahalya doesn’t seem to be controlling the sequence of events, rather seems to be more of a bait for the unsuspecting visitor.I also do not subscribe to the opinion that a feminist retake infers re-casting the woman in the role of the aggressor rather than a victim.

Terming it ‘contemporary’ is more apt, even if the link to the old seems tenuous.Interesting, in the older version of the story, at least one out of the three main characters had an unblemished character, versus Ghosh’s version where all the three have personality cracks.The inspector suffers a grave consequence for a moment of weakness. Would he have been more culpable,if it had been pre-mediated like Indra’s.

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14 thoughts on “Ahalya

  1. I saw this film last year and really enjoyed it. Not knowing anything at all about the film made it a wonderful watch. Since I write a fair amount of twist-in-the tale fiction, the ending really appealed to me. Plus the acting was stellar, if a tad predictable in the case of the female lead. The inspector models that indecision and the succumbing to temptation so beautifully!

  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful film.
    I hadn’t heard about it before, though the minute the inspector notices similarity in the doll & Arjun’s photo, I had guessed what lies ahead (maybe because i have read & heard many folk tales on this line before).

  3. It tickled me to the core of my soul! For once, I may be forgiven for using that over-abused phrase: Mindblowing! It is wonderful to find that such breathtaking pieces are available in the vernacular too. I refuse to be drawn into the argument of feminism —modernistic or ancient. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Oh yes Uma. There are enough and more treasures lying undiscovered 🙂 Not knowing about its antecedents and neither its arguments before I watched, was actually quite liberating for me

  4. alkagurha

    I saw this movie last year without the baggage of knowing the real story. Needless to say, loved every bit. And as you say, I find the link to the old story a bit tenuous.
    Enjoyed your take.

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