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Modern Ahalya



Short film: 14 minutes

Dir. Sujoy Ghosh

A Hindu mythological tale goes: Indra, the King of Gods, had visited and seduced Ahalya, the wife of old sage Gautama. Gautama had cursed her: you’ll always be a stone. She turned into a stone. Only later lord Rama (an incarnation of God Vishnu) would free her from her curse.

Most texts of the tale claim Indra had disguised himself as her husband and tricked her. There are, then, texts that claim Indra had not disguised and Ahalya still fell for him. Some texts even claim that though he had disguised, Ahalya knew of it and accepted his advances nonetheless.

The tale is old. A modern spin, one might assume, would call for empathy for Ahalya. After all, she was tricked, and then cursed in spite of it. But that’s a story someone might choose to tell. Someone not Sujoy Ghosh. (Sujoy Ghosh has to his directorial credit: Kahaani, Kahaani 2, and Te3n.)

Ghosh’s Ahalya doesn’t need our empathy. Spare your empathy for the cop Indra instead, she will suggest in her manner. Her confident manner. She is content. And beautiful. Beautifully content in her skin. Her husband celebrates her. If Indra, on his mission to trick her, must find himself seduced by her beauty, then be it. She will accept it. And the husband will stand by her, join her in the trickery. Their curse to Indra, the king of Gods, a cop here.

~ Hardik Yadav