Mirch Masala is one of the highly acclaimed Bollywood movies. The film is also one of the well known social movies in Bollywood focusing on social issues like the condition of the peasant women in medieval India and also points out the cowardice of men who do not think twice before handing over women to other men to save themselves. On the other hand the film also highlights the moral strength of women to fight against all odds. The movie has also nicely featured the courage and unity of village women. Mirch Masala is really a film worth watching. The film is set in the backdrop of Gujarat in the 1940s.
The story of Mirch Masala revolves round the the practice in India in the colonial period when the subedars were entrusted with the duty of collecting taxes from the peasants. They often demanded more tax from the subjects. The subedars were accompanied by soldiers as they moved from village to village to collect taxes. Sonbai, a young village woman who is unable to pay the money the subedar owes money, is commanded by the subedar to spend the night with him while her husband is away. Sonbai, slaps him right on the face and takes refuge in a spice factory.
In the spice factory she finds that there are other women like her who grind chilies to earn their livelihood. The climax is reached with the scene of the factory when the aged guard Abu Mian refuses to open the gate to save Sonbai ignoring repeated threats from the subedar and the head of the village. On the other side of the door await the soldiers, village men led by the village head as well as the subedar himself. However there is protest from the town`s teacher who is a Gandhian by principle and mayor`s wife who leads the village women folk. It is one of the most stirring movies released in Bollywood.
Sonbai is the principal character in Mirch Masala. The film is directed by Ketan Mehta. Leading roles of Sonbai and the subedar are played by the Smita Patil and Nasseruddin Shah. The story is written by Shafi Hakim and Ketan Maehta. It is a color film spanning for 128 minutes and was screened in Hindi.
Other roles are played by Ram Gopal Bajaj as the owner of the pepper factory, Benjamin Gilani as Masterji, Mohan Gokhale as the Villager, Nina Kulkarni as the Pepper factory worker. Deepti Naval plays the role of Saraswati, Mukhiya`s wife, Suresh Oberoi plays Mukhiya, Harish Patel acts as Pandit , Dina Pathak acts as Maanki, the factory worker. Others like Ratna Pathak and Supriya Pathak act as pepper factory worker, and Om Puri as the staunch Chowkidar Abu Miya.
Mirch Masala has won the best feature film award in the year 1987 at the Hawaii International Film Festival. It was nominated for the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1987. Mirch Masala is one of the must see Bollywood social movies.
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