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Maharajin preview: Tribute to the incredible mistress of cremation ghats

While the film is firmly focuses on the life of Maharajin, it also offers a meditative comment on religion as the role of gender and labour is contemplated and questions of life and death are mulled over.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

There are very few films that illustrate the sheer grit and resolve of the human spirit in as compelling a way as Darpan Bajaj’s Maharajin does. Exploring the exemplary life and unusual profession of Gulab Maharajin, a woman who performed cremations for more than 60 years at Rasoolabad Ghat in Allahabad — this short film is a tribute to one of the most luminous women of Allahabad.

Maharajin or Bua, as she was popularly known, followed the footsteps of her family and adopted the profession that her forefathers were engaged in, disregarding the fact that hers was the wrong gender for the profession.

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Her stubbornness, strength of character, kindness and dedication to her work are revealed as she is unveiled through the eyes of poets, thinkers, writers, colleagues and family. A pioneer in her profession, Maharajin broke several gender barriers and remained committed to her work. Her assertive power along with her reformist zeal unfolds as we learn more about her, through the people whose lives she had touched.

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Why you should watch this film?

Darpan Bajaj’s film is unmissable for the poetic journey he undertakes to explore the extraordinary life of Maharajin. The cinematography captures the beauty and stillness of Rasoolabad Ghat as it lies at the centre of Maharajin’s profession.

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While the film is firmly focused on the life of its eponymous character, it also offers a meditative comment on religion as the role of gender and labour is contemplated and questions of life and death are mulled over.

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The city of Allahabad becomes a character in the film, where its residents discuss the ideology and literary depth that permeates it. As the literary heartland, the history and richness of Allahabad is evident also in the use of chaste Hindi by several characters, reminding us of the euphonious sounds of our languages.

Screening date and time: 4:25 pm, 11 November (Saturday)

Maharajin will be showcased at the Woodpecker International Film Festival on 11 November, 4.25pm, Siri Fort Auditorium-III.

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