The movie Godmother released in the year 1999 and was directed by Vinay Shukla. The movie was based on the life of Santokben Jadeja, the mafia queen of Gujarat who went on to become a politician. The protagonist Rambhi is played by Shabana Azmi who is married to Veeram played by Milind Gunaji.
The movie starts with Rambhi screaming in pain during her delivery. Her only companions are village midwives who assist her with the delivery. Veeram had moved to the city in search of work, as their village did not provide him with an occupation that would enable him to feed his family. The village even lacked the basic facility of having a tube well for water.
While Rambhi was in labour, she was told she had to let go of the baby to save herself. In unbearable pain, gritting her teeth, she replied she wants the baby and that she is also going to survive. She did survive and gave birth to a boy.
Her husband dies and Rambhi turns to participating in mafia operations in Porbandar. She gains some friends but also some very powerful enemies. She gradually becomes ruthless and takes revenge on all her enemies. Back in her village where women had to struggle for water and there were numerous false promises from contractors about installing a pump, Rambhi makes sure she gets a tube well installed in that desert.
Ultimately Rambhi gets killed in the hands of her enemies. The movie ends on a poignant note where Sejal, whom Rambhi saved from the clutches of her son, comes to inaugurate the tube well along with her husband. She even names her newborn daughter Rambhi as she held Rambhi with huge respect.
Godmother is a perfect feminist watch. Shabana Azmi as Godmother Rambhi is marvellous. It fetched her five National Awards. This movie depicts the several faces of a woman in all her complexity. A woman can have her flaws, a woman can be aggrieved, a woman can have rage and a woman can also be extremely powerful socially and politically, despite being denied a formal education.
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Rambhi had the tremendous mental fortitude, where in spite of the traumatic labour pain, she still had the courage to say she will survive and her baby will also see the world. She did not have her husband by her side when she delivered. She could have died but it was her grit that enabled her to survive that painful ordeal.
When she joins her husband in the city, her husband instantly identifies her talent. He respects her, loves her and also takes her advice in his business decisions. Rambhi, though uneducated, proved to be a woman with a cognitive mind.
Bigotry had no place in Godmother Rambhi’s life.
Rambhi loved her son like any mother would love her child, yet she refused to give in to the wrong demands of her son with an iron-clad will. Rambhi posed a threat to powerful men. She always hit back and took justice into her own hands. She died as she had lived, battling against social inequalities.
She made sure to install a tube well for her desert hometown, for the women in her village who had to walk miles for a bucket of water. Rambhi also proved to be a mother to Sejal, who was seeking justice from Rambhi’s son Karsan. Rambhi supported Sejal and not Karsan and also ensured that Karsan surrendered to the cops for beating the Muslim man whom Sejal wanted to marry. Bigotry had no place in Rambhi’s life.
To conclude this essay I say to each woman please go and watch Godmother, to see the several aspects that women can represent – grit, steadfast courage, intellect and motherhood. Godmother is a lasting reminder that there is no need for men to fight our battles, we women can do it on our own.
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