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The Silence, innocence lost

Language: Marathi
Year of Release: 2015
Duration: 91 minutes
Section: Indian Panorama
Screening on: November 27, at 9.30 p.m.
Place: Inox Screen II

On a late night Mumbai local train, teenager Chini (Mugdha Chaphekar) witnesses a woman being sexually abused, in turn forcing her to face up to the demons from her past. This is the opening scene of the Marathi movie ‘The Silence’, directed by Gajendra Ahire which sets the pace for the rest of the film that tackles the bold subject of child sexual abuse, within the family.
Based on a true story, the film revolves around a little girl Chini (Vedashree Mahajan) growing up in poverty with her father (Raghubir Yadav) in a rural area. When he’s unable to manage caring for Chini himself, especially when she reaches puberty, he sends her to her uncle (Nagraj Manjule) in a nearby town. The financially well off uncle has his own problems as he cannot produce children, and holds his wife (Anjali Patil) responsible for the same. He has a streak of sadism running in him, and also takes undue advantage of the women labourers, working in his godown.
The uncle, during Chini’s stay at his place, molests her, and pushes the cheerful child into gloominess. On learning the truth, the aunt sends Chini back to her father, who is unable to understand his daughter’s silent mental agony. When Chini’s elder sister (Kadambari Kadam), who works in the Mumbai film industry as a junior artist, comes on a visit, she learns about the atrocity faced by her kid sister. A no-nonsense woman, she lodges a complaint of rape against her uncle. The father, who demands an explanation from the uncle, is mercilessly beaten up. The law fails to punish the uncle as his wife gives a statement that Chini was in her custody the entire time that she had visited them, and no one had molested her.
Refusing to let Chini stay with her father, the elder sister takes her to Mumbai for further education. On the other hand, the uncles wife conceives from an extra-marital relationship, and kills her husband when he learns about the same. She is sentenced to a jail term for the crime.
Teenager Chini, still under the grip of that violent experience, decides to help the woman, who was sexually abused on the train. She agrees to identify the culprit for the police thus breaking her long silence.
Ahire, known for handling diverse subjects, handles a topic that has long since been a taboo for society, with extreme sensitivity. The films short duration allows the production not to drift away unnecessarily. Blending past and present with forceful drama, the intelligent screenplay of the ‘The Silence’ allows every event to unfold backwards, maintaining a suspense about the occurring events.
Nagraj Manjule as the uncle and Raghubir Yadav as the cotton candy selling father are apt in their roles. The actresses playing various characters in the film however are simply brilliant, especially Vedashree Mahajan and Mugdha Chaphekar playing the small and the elder Chini, respectively. The music composed for the film by popular rock band ‘Indian Ocean’ moves with the theme of the film. The cinematography by Krisnha Soren is eye pleasing and captures some very beautiful images in a rural setting, reflecting the liveliness of the child before the tragedy.
‘The Silence’ is a film with relevance that has both quality and content on its side.

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