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Review Punjabi

Bajre Da Sitta review: Exquisite, emotional story about following one's dreams

Release Date: 15 Jul 2022

Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Through the musical journey of its protagonists, Jass Grewal’s film pays tribute to the rich tradition of Punjabi folk music.

‘I know why the caged bird sings,’ Maya Angelou wrote in one of the most powerful poems ever written about freedom. Jass Grewal’s Punjabi feature is a rare film that vividly captures the plight of women through the emotional journey of two young women and their dream to sing. Like the caged bird in Angelou’s poem, they too yearn to spread their wings and fly but are rendered voiceless by patriarchy.

A record company executive (BN Sharma) is entrusted with finding new female singing voices and chances upon sisters Roop (Tania) and Besant (Noor Chahal). Although their father Sher Singh (Guggu Gill) is vehemently against it, Sharma tries to explain that the times are changing. With tremendous reluctance, Sher Singh gives his permission and the recorded song is a huge success. Slowly, the two sisters gain renown and the father vows that Roop will be married in a home that does not allow her to pursue her God-given talent. Although her husband (Ammy Virk) intensely discourages her singing, he is forced to accept her talent.

Through its symbolism of caged birds, Bajre Da Sitta sheds light on the countless opportunities and dreams denied to women. Roop and Besant are innocent, lively women who simply love to sing. Their pure passion for their art becomes twisted with ideas of respectability and morality by society, creating shackles and denying them agency. Although the ending is a bit over-the-top, one understands that within the bounds of the story, it would take nothing short of a miracle for Roop’s talent to be understood.

Weaving in traditional folk songs, the music creates the perfect ambience for this drama which highlights the plight of women. The songs hark back to the vibrant musical tradition of Punjab, in a way paying tribute to the renowned sisters, Parkash Kaur and Surinder Kaur, who were instrumental in popularising Punjabi folk songs. 

Each aspect of this richly textured film has been thought of in painstaking detail. With commendable production values, evocative cinematography and an impeccable cast, Bajre Da Sitta straddles commercial sensibilities while presenting a moving story that tugs at the heartstrings. The cinematography transports us to rural Punjab, authentically capturing the historicity of the period drama through production and costume design. 

The emotional journey of the sisters is portrayed beautifully by Tania and Chahal, who are the soul of the film. We see them being partners-in-crime and supporting each other’s dreams, while Grewal takes us into women’s spaces, bringing to the fore their songs, experiences, trampled desires and hopes. The performances by the supporting cast are spot on and enhance this drama about tradition and finding acceptance. 

This exquisitely crafted story tugs at your heartstrings with its lilting traditional music and is an absolute must-watch.


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