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DVD cover
Directed by Kalpana Lajmi
Written by Mahasweta Devi (story)
Produced byRavi Gupta
Ravi Malik
Starring Dimple Kapadia
Raj Babbar
Amjad Khan
Cinematography Santosh Sivan
Dharam Gulati
Music by Bhupen Hazarika
Release date
  • 18 June 1993 (1993-06-18)
Running time
128 minutes

Rudaali is a 1993 Hindi-language Indian drama film directed by Kalpana Lajmi, based on the short story written by famous Bengali author Mahasweta Devi. [1] [2] The film was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 66th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee. [3] [4]


The film is set in a small village in Rajasthan, India. It tells the story of a woman named Shanichari, who was abandoned by her mother shortly after her father's death. Bad fortune follows her throughout her life.

Cultural background

The title is a reference to a custom in certain areas of Rajasthan where women of a lower caste are hired as professional mourners upon the death of upper-caste males. These women are referred to as a "rudaali" (roo-dah-lee), literally translated as "female weeper" or "weeping woman". Their job is to publicly express grief of family members who are not permitted to display emotion due to social status. [5]


The story begins with Ram Avtar, the zamindar (transl.landlord) of Barna (a village in the desert) realizing his imminent death, and the fact that none of his relatives would mourn him. He thus requests for the services of a famous rudaali named Bhikni (Rakhee), to mourn for him once he dies. Bhikni ends up staying with the widow Shanichari, who lives within the Thakur's compound. As they both begin to bond, Shanichari tells Bhikni her life's story, which is revealed to us in flashbacks.

Shanichari was born on a Shanichar (Saturday), which is concerned to be an ill omened day, ruled by the planet Shani (Saturn) in astrology. Shanichari is blamed by the villagers for everything bad that happens around her - starting from her father's death, to her mother Peewli's running off to join a folk theatre troupe. While still young, Shanichari is married off to Ganju, a drunkard, who ends up dying due to a cholera at a village fair. Her only support is her son, Budhua, whom she loves very much. However, he likes to roam around aimlessly, just like Peewli did.

Meanwhile, the Thakur's son Lakshman Singh reveals that he likes her and offers her a job at the Thakur's haveli . She then serves under his wife, who has been spoiled but is secluded from others. Lakshman tries to teach Shanichari to empower herself and understand her rights, and encourages her to "look up" into his eyes when speaking to him. One night, after Shanichari's singing performance at the haveli, he gifts her a house of her own, along with two acres of land.

Soon, the adult Budhua brings home a wife, Mungri, who is a young prostitute pregnant with his child. However, the couple keeps fighting, and one day in a fit of rage, Mungri aborts the child. Budhua, upset, runs away from home, leaving his mother all alone. It is revealed that throughout her hardships, Shanichari had never shed a tear.

One night, Bhikni is called to the neighbouring village to meet Bhimdata. The Thakur passes away a few hours later. Lakshman Singh and Shanichari are then seen bidding farewell to each other as Singh plans to leave the village after his father's demise. They are interrupted by a messenger from Bhimdata, who reveals that Bhikni succumbed to the plague, and in her last few minutes requested that Shanichari be told that she was her mother, Peewli. Shanichari then begins to weep profusely, and takes over as the new rudaali, crying at the Thakur's funeral. [5] [6]


Awards and honours

National Award in 1993. [10] 


The film has music by folk musician Bhupen Hazarika.

All lyrics are written by Gulzar; all music is composed by Bhupen Hazarika.

1."Dil Hoom Hoom Kare (Part-1)" (Raga: Bhoopali) Lata Mangeshkar  
2."Dil Hoom Hoom Kare (Part-2)" (Raga: Bhoopali) Bhupen Hazarika  
3."Jhuti Mooti Mitwa" (Raga: Vrindavani sarang)Lata Mangeshkar 
4."Samay O Dhire Chalo (Part-1)" (Raga: Bhimpalasi) Asha Bhosle  
5."Samay O Dhire Chalo (Part-2)" (Raga: Bhimpalasi)Bhupen Hazarika 
6."Moula O Moula"Bhupen Hazarika 
7."Samay O Dhire Chalo (Part-3)" (Raga: Bhimpalasi)Lata Mangeshkar 

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