It's a product of moribund imagination. You can give it a nice musical title like SONATA and soak it in the best and most expensive French perfume but it nevertheless stinks like a blend of fermented piss & dried up menstrual blood of the women’s quarters of old rural havelis, which may turn some on and put others off.
This low budget, single set, stagy drama suffers from some really pathetic writing by a jaded mind filled with obsolete and boring ideas about female psyche. The well-known Marathi Playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar, who supposedly feels the heartache and longing of female souls even more than they themselves or even Lord Krishna could ever feel, has written the play the film is based on. The film uses the term ‘prude’ quite often as a kind of epithet for one of its characters Aruna Chaturvedi (Aparna Sen), a Sanskrit professor. But the film itself is a prudish caricature of what we are told is the story of three modern women. The women in the film are nothing but old bloated hags pretending to be younger than what they are. There is nothing modern or enlivening or liberating about them.
It’s mainly a meandering cerebral conversation between two spinsters Aruna Chaturvedi & Dolon Sen (Shabana Azmi), some HOD somewhere, living together in Mumbai in what looks like a posh Altamont Road flat in south Mumbai also called SoBo. They are college day friends. The third character Subhadra Parekh (Lillete Dubey), a journalist living in with a young garage owner and a motor mechanic, drops in for a while to supplement their largely monotonous conversation and add another predictable dimension to it. There is also a subliminal sub-text that refers to the previous regime's fiction of ‘Malegaon blasts & saffron terror’ to counterbalance the fact of ‘26/11 Paki attack on Mumbai’. It’s cleverly supplanted in the maze of routine feminine issues. It stops just short of fully endorsing the views of Digvijay Singh, Chidambaram, Jaaved Akhtar and Mahesh Bhatt. In fact, this devious equivocal political subterfuge is the only surprise the film has to offer.
So, what is it the three protagonists talk about while hovering around, lighting Marlboros, spraying 'French' perfumes, pouring wine in glasses, shifting from a writing table to a sofa to a wine cabinet and a corner bar and few other convenient spots on the 'large living room with an open kitchen' film set? List out every standard cliché related to the decadent intellectually rotted class and you will be on the dot. There are all kinds of dropped hints and discussions here and there about lesbian and transgender issues, broken romances, personal betrayals, gender violence, etc. etc.
The film does not transcend the rutty and muddy trajectory. It’s an exploration of the oft explored and done to death kind of female issues. Watching some ‘Sex & The City’ episode a hundredth time will be a far more interesting, enjoyable, and revelatory experience for an audience. The characters are so cooped up that they don’t even have interesting cathartic moments. At the end of it we don’t know more than what we have been repeatedly told about the psyche of women for ages in cinema and on stage.
It’s a waste of time, money, and talent with few sparkling moments. The meaningless film is apparently made because Aparna Sen had to make some film to stay busy in life and somehow managed to get a willing funder. That’s it.