Directed by Prakash Saini / Reviewed by Adva Reichman
The Tale of Rising Rani is a beautiful coming of age story about the meaning of friendship, finding courage and staying true to yourself. In a world that tries to keep you down, will you have the bravery it requires to stand up?
Rani, played by the talented Stuti Agrawal, is a small-town girl with big dreams and a big heart. In a society where an over educated woman is considered risky and knowing chores is a must, Rani fights for her not-so-given right to choose her own path. Rani, being the brightest student in the village, challenges the norms and searches for her voice.She lives in a village that wishes to stop her personal growth and education, so she can still be considered worthy marriage material.* At some point, her father does pressure her into marriage, and I found myself glued to the screen, hoping she’ll be able to stop it.
The film follows Rani’s journey as she navigates her adolescence and exposes us to her village’s way of life. In this community, people fix their problems in house and support one another throughout. Women aren’t asked to choose nor does their choice matters. There is a way to live and each person is obliged to follow. If you betray it, the elders will decide your fate.
Rinki,played by the gifted Parul Verma, is Rani’s cousin and best friend.Through her story, the director reveals the struggle women face in today’s Indian society and sheds light on the way it is handled. When Rinki is raped by an older villager, Rani feels that something must be done, but as she turns to her elders for help, the outcome manages to shock and upset. The solution found was astonishing and the perception that it was good was mind blowing.
Rani questions the absolute truths the elders wish to pass on and fights for a real solution, even if it means fighting Rinki to get it. The cousin’s choices clarifies the reality in which she lives and the price she can pay, just for being a woman.
I was captivated by the director’s choices and found myself following the unraveling twists and turns, worrying and caring for the characters. Although I do believe the film could have gained from being shorter and tighter, my mind and my heart were always with Rani and Rinki. By the time Rinki was raped and the village looked for a way to solve the issue, I was fully immersed, waiting and rooting for their next actions.
The beautiful scenery and captivating score lured me in as the director’s vision appeared before me. The characters were well built, and each represented a different voice in society. They too, transformed through Rani’s actions and were able to gain a new perspective on women, even if just a bit. Prakash Saini’s message was clear and throughout it a powerful statement was sent to the world. I wish this film will be seen by many for its beautiful craft and incredibly important say.
The editing was smart and allowed us to stay in certain moments, so we can better understand the situation and the complexity these characters face. The picturesque cinematography contributed greatly and brought life into the little village, emphasizing its limits, culture and habits. The cinematographer set up various wide shots of the supposedly peaceful village with its seemly endless boundaries and open space. But it was that choice that actually gave it the feeling of being trapped. You can run, but coming from a small town, where will you go and how will you survive? That question echoed in my head as Rinki and a few others thought of taking their own lives, instead of running away and starting again somewhere new.
Prakash Saini carefully crafted a touching and relevant film that will stay with you, even after it’s over.