indian cinema heritage foundation

Bhavanee Bhavaaee (1981)

  • LanguageGujarati

Time: Present

Location: Wilderness

A large group of migrating people camps for the night. They are untouchables. Their huts were burnt down last night in a caste feud.

An old man narrates a story to pacify the restless children. Once upon a time there was a king. He had two wives, but no children. The king was funny but cruel and always angry.

The people were docile, poor and hungry.

The narrator narrates a well known story.

Amidst the chaos of a degenerating feudalism, the old queen gets pregnant. The king is jubilant but the new queen is jealous. She conspires with the royal Astrologer and the minister. The newly born prince is declared ill fated and certain to bring death to the king. The prince is ordered to be slain.

But the soldiers where are given this dirty job, have mercy. They put him in a wooden box and float him away in the river.

The box is found by an untouchable called Malo. He adopts the child and calls him Jivo (alive).

Jivo grows up into a handsome young man. He falls in love with a gypsy girl called Ujam. She becomes his spirit of liberation.

With the wisdom of the victim, the narrator continues weaving his story through the conspiring royalty, the uninspiring upper castes, and the perspiring working class and time passes. He brings it to an episode of confrontation between the untouchables and the king, where the untouchables momentarily forget their fears and demand for human rights. True to his medieval spirit, the narrator winds up the story in a happy end.

But a representative of the younger generation gets up from the audience and rejects the happy end.

"Enough of your happy ending. Let's stop pretending. No more stories, without understanding." He suggests an alternative end, which he thinks is more meaningful to their existence and the changing times.

(From the official press booklet)


  • Director