indian cinema heritage foundation

Rudaali (1992)

  • Release Date1992
  • GenreDrama
  • FormatColor
  • LanguageHindi
  • Run Time120 mins
  • Length3514.23
  • Number of Reels14
  • Gauge35 mm
  • Censor RatingU
  • Censor Certificate Number17442
  • Certificate Date01/09/1992
  • Shooting LocationBarna Village, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

Rudaali is the name given to a female professional mourner at a funeral ceremony. The custom continues to prevail especially in the northern states of India like Rajasthan with its great desert stretches and a traditional lifestyle.

The story of Rudaali is the story of Sanichari, a woman of grit. Although buffeted by the odds-arising out of a strongly patriarchal, male dominated order-she retains her interpose, Her Husband is a wastrel; and there seems to be little hope of a better life for her little son. Sanichari has seen abject misery and tragedy right before her eyes. Yet, her eyes have never welled over with tears. Wounded to the heart, she still cry.

After her husband's death - ironically the alcoholic dies on drinking holy water, the widow becomes one of the growing tribe of bounded labour. As her age advances, so does her fortune.

Yet, even within the engulfing darkness, there is a light. A seasoned Rudaali, Bhikni, enters Sanichari's life. An intimacy develope between the two as Sanichari relates passages from her life. In another part of the arid township, the corpulent suzerian is dyeing; it is at his funeral that Bhikni is expected to perform her professional act. As Sanichari's means of survival rare decimating, the Rudaali suggests that she can learn the tricks of the trade from her. In a tough world, tears can be sold.

Sanichari is hesitant. For her eyes continue to be as dry as the desert around her. The climax underscores the point though there may be suffering for women, there is hope.

The woman's eyes now flow with, a release, a catharsis. The story of a woman who become a Rudaali could be any woman's in any place any any time.

[from the official press booklet]