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What women power?


Irrelevant titles you are used to — but never one as misleading as Jayadevi Films' `Power of Women' (U). If you imagine `Power ... ' to be a movie on a woman who faces adversity with grit and emerges winner, you've got it wrong. The heroine here is a weepy, naοve housewife, who continues to be stupid and dies because of her stupidity.

The film has Aatma (Hariharan) musician and social activist, crying himself hoarse about the emancipation of women, writing books on the subject and courting house arrest for the controversy he creates. In a flashback mode for the most part, the story revolves round Jyoti (Khushboo), a village girl married to the rich Shyam (Riyaz Khan) and whisked away to Canada. Life is bliss till she gets to know about Shyam's nefarious activities. (A little on the lines of Sivasankari's `47 Naatkal' that Balachander made into a film) Jyoti rebels in vain. Friend and musician Aatma offers solace and only causes more harm, because Shyam suspects his wife and Aatma of having an illicit relationship.

Khushboo's mature looks do not go with the role of a gullible village girl who is in for a rude shock in an alien land. Neither does she look slim or youthful enough to pass off as Riyaz Khan's wife. So her initial innocence, coquetry and shyness seem too artificial. The voice that's dubbed for her is again too loud. But rising above the restrictions, Khushboo makes quite an impression in the sequence where her husband chops off her locks to punish her. Histrionics isn't Hariharan's forte. It is Riyaz Khan as the sadistic, torturing husband who does a remarkable job. Kitchas' camera pans a colour-filled Canada, offering a fiesta for the eyes. Jayadevi's story is initially strong. The glaring gaffe, however, is the detective agency friend deciding to tell Shyam a purposeless lie. The last few scenes are unpardonably slow and didactic.

The screenplay meanders through undulating terrain at a trying pace touching upon too may issues from child marriage to widow re-marriage and sati. The purpose is noble, but in the process writer, director and producer and yesteryear actor Jayadevi seems caught in a time warp.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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