Bawandar is a film based on the true story of Bawari Devi and her struggle for justice.
The real names of characters in the film are changed; for instance Bawari as Sanwari and Mohan as Sohan.
Amy, a foreign reporter narrates the film in the first person. She visits Rajasthan to investigate Sanwari Devi’s case, with his friend Ravi(also her interpreter) about which she read in a newspaper earlier. On her arrival to Rajasthan, they took a rickshaw to reach Sanwari Devi’s house in the village Dhabri. Apparently, the rickshaw puller turns out to be Sanwari Davi’s husband.
Sanwari belonged to a low caste of Kumhar (potters) and his husband Sohan is a rickshaw puller. They live with Ravi’s parents according to Indian culture and have 2 children, a young girl and a boy.
Sanwari once raised her voice against a corrupt supervisor while working at a local quarry, about which Shobha Devi who is a social worker at the Government of India gets to know.
Shobha Devi recruits Sanwari as a Sathin- a grass root level worker as a part of Women Development project by the Government of Rajasthan. While spreading awareness about child marriage, oppression against women, she had to face the hatred of fellow villagers and the powerful Gujjar community. Once when she called the police to stop an ongoing child marriage, she had to face the rage of 5 powerful and influential Gujjar men of their village. These men decided to teach a lesson to Sanwari Devi and his husband Sohan. So they started beating Sohan at a place where other villages were not present and when Sanwari came in between to save him, 2 of those 5 men gang-raped her. Somehow Sanwari and Sohan gathered courage and went to file an FIR, but were denied by the corrupt inspector Ravi by giving them legal reasons.
She then had to go to a doctor to get the medical reports and to get court orders. Shobha Devi helped them through this time.
Sanwari got recognition from the Prime Minister with an assistance of 1 lack rupees but still could not get justice.
The film is about real India and it’s problems. It attacks 5 major social issues in India which are deeply rooted and the system has also become its part. They are- caste discrimination, gender inequality, corruption, child marriage and dirty politics.
It shows how a common person from a lower caste does not hold any value in front of the government and the country. Their existence in front of higher cast powerful people is equal to a mote in the eye.
The use of word Circus to describe the status of Sanwari Devi and Sohan by the authorities and the villagers would be appropriate, as the criminals were never found guilty and Sanwari and Sohar were just like animals of Circus, whose work was to entertain them.
The film opens your eyes and introduces you to the harsh reality of rural India. For people residing in the city, and staying in huge bungalows with air conditioned rooms, thinking the world as a perfect place, this film will surely crush their perspectives and make it hard for them to accept the truth and reality of the country.
Nandita Das successfully gets into the character of Sanwari Devi and portrays her struggle in a realistic manner on screen.
The supporting cast of Raghuvir Yadav as Sohan, Deepti Naval as Shobha, Yashpal Sharma as Sarju, Lalit Tiwari as Tej and Anupam Shayam as Mungal Panda also performed their roles well.
The dialogues of the film are impactful and describes each character clearly. For example- dialouges like- Pradhanmantri Ji nei meri paiso dwara madat ki, mai bahot ehsaanmand hu, par in sab baaton se kya meri looti hui laaj mujhe wapus milegi…mera asli samaan tab hoga jab atyachariyo ko saza milegi(said by Sanwari in local dialect while P.M provided her help by 1 lack rupees).
This is a great film to watch for a person, courageous enough to take it and accept the reality of India.