Home Cinema ‘Pothli’: Creating a Milestone in Uttarakhand Cinema 

‘Pothli’: Creating a Milestone in Uttarakhand Cinema 

Film Review 
By Dr Chetana Pokhriyal 
Pothli (‘the daughter’ in regional lingo), is a serious and sensitive Garhwali feature film based on molestation of the girls in Uttarakhand. The film is based on the story of the teenager Radha who is molested and murdered. Today, with the rising cases in physical abuse and molestation, such issues need to be addressed with caution for it’s a distressing subject. Produced and directed by Ravi Mamgain, the film intends to lay the milestone of serious filmmaking.
The film’s antagonist is flawed and impulsive, stereotypically representing the power intoxicated mafia bound to ravage the entire fabric of peace and solitude of the hills represented by its women and girls. The film marginally touches on the subject of the girl child and their education. However, it fails to break the conventional stereotypes like the insensitive system, the greedy police force, the ineptitude of the legal system often colluding with the perpetrators of crime. With Pothli, the filmmaker has genuinely tried to discern beyond the beautiful landscape and the scenic beauty that Uttarakhand is known for, to address the narratives of pain and suffering of molestation of girls and women and also the theme of manipulation and abuse of power.
Bacon has called “Revenge as a wild kind of justice”, he clearly meant that revenge operates outside the bounds of traditional justice systems. Often, in such cases, the public erupts with outrage to justifiably demand death penalty for the accused. Similarly, when a case of rape of a veterinary doctor shook the nation, the gunning down of the accused by the Karnataka police on ground zero had left the nation divided over the norm of “instant justice”; for some it was alarmingly setting the dangerous precedent of “extra judicial killing”. The father of 13 year old in Kerala took to revenge when perpetrators of crime were freed by the Kerala court. The ‘so-called juvenile’ in Nirbhaya case walks free with the sewing machine. The film plot, too, conclusively leads the storyline to the revenge.
However, without exploring the dramatic possibilities in the plot, the film Pothli resorts to melodramatic elements, heightened and exaggerated emotions and storytelling often used for thematic exploration of passion, anger and revenge. Despite loose plot, weak screenplay, technical flaws and jarring background score but mellifluous songs, the film evokes strong emotions, explores timeless theme of molestation and physical abuse that resonates with the audience. When the Government of Uttarakhand is getting ready for global attention with the celebration of 25 years of the state, it should step forward to provide technical assistance to the passionate filmmakers, producers and artists in the region for creating regional and local perspective, to change and rewrite history  in the current global scenario.
(The author is Head, Department of English, Coordinator, School of Languages, Doon University, Dehradun )