A film review by Fengkha Daimari.
Having missed all of the festivals where it was screened, I had given up hope of getting a chance to watch the film that even the serendipitous meeting with the director herself in the month of December, 2019 showed no hope of getting to watch it. So months passed by and it was only recently in a video in YouTube the director announced the availability of the film in an online platform. And I knew I got my ticket to watch the film. And as I write this, montages from the film flashes in front of my eyes after having watched it on the 13th July 2020 and I have to be grateful to Rajni Basumatary and the entire film crew for providing a visual spectacle of our history from the 1980s and its consequences. The film that I am talking about is Jwlwi- The Seed.
A story covering two generations of violence ravaged Bodo society, Rajni takes a very humane and tender approach to a subject that the whole Bodo tribe is privy to. Some have lived through it; some have seen it and some have heard it. But with this film, it makes us relive the moments of horror caused by the implementation of AFSPA and how it tears family apart.
The background of the film relies heavily on the history marked with violence and blood of Bodo Youth in their demand for a separate state. Basumatary does not show the violence, rather alludes to it through the characters where the young boys are carried off solely based on suspicion through raids by the army. The focus is more on the relation between mother and son. Alaari, the protagonist of the film, portrayed by Basumatary herself, having already lost her husband in an accidental violence, is determined to not let her son stray from the path she wants him to follow. As their ideas clash, the film builds the story along that conflict as the son, Erak, is forced to leave the house to pursue further studies in Delhi only to have the wind of change blowing over him and brings a change in him causing him to join the insurgent group. What follows next are the insecurities of the people, fear and pain as Alaari holds her own having lost the two men in her life, living without any hope for her lineage to carry on.
Heart wrenching and tender, the film represents a microcosm of Bodo society during those cruel times through the story of Alaari and her journey amidst losing both her husband and son, with snippets on the lifestyle and culture of the tribe. Although it is a very grim subject, there is a hope, a ray of light as the movie ends. The film is thus an effort well paid off. The actors carry their roles well filling up parts that would otherwise have been void and empty, especially Basumatary, who represents a very formidable woman in spite of having lost her family in the hands of the draconian violence, carrying the burden and pain interspersed with the will and strength to move on in spite of the past haunting her.
I do recommend any movie buff to watch this film, available in the website moviesaints, for the accurate historical representation of the Bodo society marred with emotional and psychological scars (for very few films have touched upon this issue, rather a first full feature film to touch upon this by a Bodo). It is a Bodo film, by a Bodo about Bodos to the Bodos and the world out there who wants to know how lives were torn apart in this particular tribal society. And if that isn’t enough, then watch it simply for the portrayal of Alaari by Basumatary; she carries the weight of the film on her shoulder, not getting bogged down, but holding it well with her head held high in a quiet, resonating fashion, bringing out the truth that we all have darkness, but we can overcome it. For the film lingers a little longer even after the end credits have rolled with an uplifting song, bringing the joy and vigour and hope among the youth of the tribe.
All in all it is a beautiful film, quiet and moving, without letting the guns and violence speak, but by building up an avalanche of emotions as one watches how a family is torn apart in the name of freedom and patriotism.
Interested audience can watch it by clicking on this link moviesaints.com/movie/jwlwi