Director: Ravi Jadhav
Cast: Kalyanee Mulay, Chhaya Kadam, Madan Deodhar, Om Bhutkar, Naseeruddin Shah
Ravi Jadhav is a household name in Maharashtra. His films, ranging from the national-award winning biopic Balgandharva (2011), to the box office sensation Timepass (2014), have consolidated his reputation as a master of both commercial and art-house cinema. With his latest work Nude, Jadhav makes a powerful statement about the patriarchal Indian mindset that a woman’s integrity is linked to how she chooses to present her body to the world.
Nude has seen its share of controversy leading up to its release. The film was, ironically, excluded from International Film Festival of India last year, thanks to a mandate by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, citing vulgarity, after being unanimously selected by the Jury as the opening title in the Indian panorama section. It also faced a plagiarism charge by the writer Manisha Kulshetra, who claimed that the film was an adaptation of her short story Kalindi. It was eventually cleared for release without any cuts with an A-rating.
Nude, co-written by Jadhav and Sachin Kundalkar, is about the journey of Yamuna (Kalyanee Mulay), who moves to Mumbai along with her son in search of a better life, after being at the receiving end of an abusive marriage. Unable to find work, she is proposed the idea of working as a nude model for students of the Sir J.J school of Arts by her aunt Akka (Chhaya Kadam). ‘You shed your clothes on your own! The students don’t look at you as an object of lust. It’s an important part of their education’, says her aunt, eventually convincing her.
It’s interesting to see the transition of Yamuna’s character, which moves from feeling incredibly guilty about her choice to earn her livelihood through exhibition, to someone who truly start enjoying how her body is visualized through the medium of an artist. Prior to her job, she has always viewed men gazing at her as a threat. As the film progresses, she understands that the line of work she chooses is nobody’s business but herself.
The film is visually stunning. Amalendu Chaudhari’s cinematography is rich in texture. His usage of shadows to show Yamuna’s constant fear of exposure at home work really well in stark contrast to the vibrant colours of the outdoors in the college she works in.
Both Mulay and Kadam deliver powerful performances as they struggle to keep their work life private. Kadam, who plays Akka, acts as a guiding force, steering her in the right direction. She is constantly trying to change Yamuna’s patriarchally influenced mindset, urging her to lose her inhibitions, and do whatever she can to earn a living.
Naseeruddin Shah, in a cameo, plays an accomplished artist who sums up the purpose behind painting nudes: ‘Clothes cover the body. As an artist, I try to paint the soul’.
Jadhav creates powerful antagonists out of Yamuna’s husband (Om Bhukar) and son (Madan Deodhar) in the film. While she toils endlessly to provide for her son’s flair for the arts, she remains under-unappreciated at home. Her son’s skewed perception of his mother’s profession leads him to believe that she’s at the wrong side of morality..
Jadhav has made a poignant piece of cinema that doesn’t pander. The very fact that the I&B Ministry had a problem with it proves its point: That, vulgarity is in the eyes of the viewer.
Watch the trailer here: