Starring: Meera Jasmine, Aniruddha Jatkar, Arundathi Jatkar
Directed by M.S. Sathyu
Ijjodu or the incompatible is a tale where the rational meets the superstitious and reason confronts faith. It’s modernity accidentally coming face to face with tradition when Ananda (Aniruddha Jatkar), a photojournalist, accidentally runs into Chenni (Meera Jasmine), a devadasi, in a village dotted by Hoysala temples. Like in the case of most devadasi women, here too, Chenni is pushed into prostitution behind the euphemistic veil of custom and her father, the village headman, is running a clandestine economy capitalising on his daughter’s innocence. Running parallel to this is the story of another woman, Kempi, who, when war-widowed, takes a bold decision to remarry a person younger to her. While Chenni leads a choiceless life, Kempi exercising her choice is a ready contrast.
Although the tale of the two women by itself carries a huge potential, Sathyu’s narrative enterprise is hardly nuanced. Despite the dilemma in the minds of the women, the tough questions that crop up and the obvious cruelty, the script runs flat. There are no haunting images or lingering lines to match the intensity and drama conjured up by those extraordinary lives. The film is dressed clean and logically sliced well, making it fall somewhere between a docudrama and a soap episode on prime-time TV. The keenness to sloganeer is its undoing.
Nothing as such remains unsaid in the film, leading to a bit of frustration in the viewer. This is most apparent at the end when Ananda speaks aloud to himself. He takes the blame for having driven Chenni to suicide by introducing a torrent of reason to break her faith. What precedes this tragic climax is Chenni slipping into Ananda’s room and offering to sleep with him. Shocked, Ananda discovers the role she’s been assigned by her society. His righteous self begins to lecture about her exploitation and the taunts that surround her. Chenni asks if he is willing to pull her out from the cycle of evil. While Ananda is benumbed, Chenni makes her journey in the dead of night to the village tank.
In terms of performance, Balarama (Sathya) stands out. Meera Jasmine has an alien Kannada accent and looks lost, but her buxom charm is a welcome relief from size-zero B’wood belles.
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Courtesy: Film Information