Review Marathi

Potra review: Shankar Dhotre’s movie showcases the sorrows associated with puberty for village girls

Release Date: 2022 / 01hr 18min


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Keyur Seta

Newcomer Chakuli Prahlad Devkar is a natural as the protagonist Geeta in this film which some may feel is set in a bygone age, but isn't.

R Balki’s Pad Man (2018) encouraged the usage of sanitary pads for menstruating women. In the course of giving the message of hygiene, it also portrayed the inhuman treatment meted out to women when they are having their periods. But being more about the issue of non-availability of pads, it didn’t delve deep into the taboos associated with menstruation.

First-time filmmaker Shankar Arjunn Dhotre’s Marathi movie Potra offers a more hard-hitting look of the treatment of girls who attain puberty.

Potra doesn’t have much of a storyline. It is more a film about a situation and a character. The movie revolves around teenager Geeta (Chakuli Prahlad Devkar). When she achieves puberty, a wave of happiness runs through her family. In keeping with tradition, the occasion is celebrated and she is worshipped.

However, again as per tradition, Geeta receives inhuman treatment from the next day onwards. Not only is she not allowed to go to school for the next four or five days, but the family also does not let her inside the house for she is considered ‘impure.’

Her younger brother is confused by the family’s sudden change of attitude towards her. Unfortunately, puberty is just the start of Geeta's problems. Now, her father is desperate to get her married, though she is isn't keen on marriage just yet.

With the issue and the regressive behaviour of Geeta’s family towards her, including her forced marriage, Potra feels like a film set in a bygone age. But it is today's story, which shakes the viewer up, especially one who is from an urban background.

Potra offers a glimpse into the world of Geeta which changes dramatically after she attains puberty. The film mostly shows the characters going through their daily lives with Geeta’s issue in the backdrop for the most part. Despite the unpleasant subject, the movie, shot by cinematographer Ranjeet Mane, is a visual treat.

Filmmaker Dhotre said after the screening that he has cast non-professional artistes in the role of children. This is hard to believe when you see the performance of Chakuli Prahlad Devkar. She performs like a seasoned actress, mostly speaking through her expressions.

The same can be said for the child artiste playing her brother. Suhas Munde, as Geeta’s strict father, is also natural and never overdoes the anger part.

Potra moves at a snail’s pace without any background score. There are not many dialogues either. While this may be deliberate, it is bound to limit the film's reach. But the movie will be appreciated by lovers of festival films because of Dhotre’s brilliant handling. It helps that the film is wrapped up in just 78 minutes.

Potra has two lengthy sequences where kids take hold of a beehive from a tree. Both incidents not only show them capturing real hives, but they have also been shot in single long takes. It does raise a question in the viewer's mind why the filmmaker felt the need to include two identical situations when the symbolism is achieved by the first instance itself. But the presentation ensures that the question doesn't trouble the viewer too much.

Potra was screened at the 12th Yashwant Film Festival on 24 March 2022 and at the 20th Pune International Film Festival held from 18–25 March 2022.

 

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Pune International Film Festival

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