Location: London, UK
"On My Husband's Ashes"
Directed by Bennet Miller
Screenplay by Emma Thompson and Bennet Miller
Produced by Robert DeNiro and Bennet Miller
Music by Alan Silvestri
Baby Keerthana (Kumari)
Dakota Fanning (Lucy Jame)
Monica Bellucci (Shantini)
Naseerudin Shah (Patel Mehta)
Sally Field (Mrs. Jame)
Tom Hanks (Mr. Jame)
Tagline: "In her husband's fire, she is to be thrown and stop her seed from being sown"
Synopsis:India, in the 1800's when ruled by the British, was home to many inhuman practices which were practiced illegally like 'untouchability', child marriage, female infanticide and sati, to name a few, the most outrageous of them being sati. When a husband dies and is cremated, his wife, if alive, has to be thrown into the same fire, thus preventing her to marry again and have children, this is called sati. This movie takes place in the year of The Revolt of 1857 against the British rule.
Bennet Miller brings you this story of 10 year old Kumari (Keerthana), who is the adopted child of Mr. and Mrs. Jame (Hanks and Field), a Bristish family settled in India. Kumari was lucky beacuse if it were not for the James family she would be dead by now and would have been yet another victim of female infanticide. They treated her as their own child and she learns to love them especially their daughter, Lucy (Fanning). Unexpectedly, her mom. Shantini (Bellucci) comes and takes her back home to their remote village deep inside a forest. There, her mother gets her married to a 19 year old boy and then sells her as a slave to a rich Indian family. Kumari is oblivious about her marriage and her sale until her husband dies in the Revolt. Now, she realizes that she has to perform sati.
Kumari's mom, Shantini, was away as she was a prostitute to the British. She heard about her son-in-law's death and was on her way back to prepare her daughter for sati, when the head of the village, Patel (Shah) shot her as he had come to know about the disgraceful act she was doing.
Lucy and Mrs. Jame come to know about this and they head out to help Kumari, when Mr. Jame was away. They bail Kumari out to safety but unfortunately, Patel, who hates people who don't perform sati when they ought to, found out where they were hiding and shot Mrs. Jame. Kumari and Lucy runaway into the midst of the war with the village people not far behind them, wanting to burn them alive. Kumari left her brothers back at the village and fears they might be killed by the villagers.to add to this, Mr. Jame returns only to find himself kidnapped by the villagers.
Kumari and Lucy are trapped between the war and the villagers. Their lives and the lives of their loved ones are at stake. Just when they think nothing worse could happen something does...
What the press would say:
Bennet Miller shows the world that he is one of the best directors of this generation with this movie of how Indian girls led such miserable lives during the 1800's. Even the way they died was miserable. This movie focuses on the life of Kumari, who's prostitute mother sells her and gets her married at the age of 10. After the death of her husband she is forced to perform sati. She refuses and runs away with Lucy, the child of the family that adopted her. After a string of tragedies they are faced with the war on one hand and the villagers on the other. In the end the movie takes a phenomenal tragic turn which will not only break your heart but will enrage you to such an extent where you want to kill the person sitting beside you. This movie is mostly in English and partly is in Hindi. The performances are magnificent, in every sens of the word. Little known Indian actors Baby Keerthana and Naseerudin Shah are also part of this magnificent cast. Keerthana and Dakota remarkably portray Kumari and Lucy, reapectively. Shah plays the arogant and ignorant village head, Patel with great accuracy that he makes us loath him. Double Oscar winner Sally Field undertakes the role of Mrs. Lucy, who is set on protecting Kumari, with such divinity and Tom Hanks plays Mr. Jame. But it was Monica Bellucci who showed her real talents in this movie by playing Shantini, the prostitute mother of Kumari. With a complete transformation of her looks and shape, she does an amazing job in showing us how stupid and how steeped in superstitions the Indian mothers during that time were. A great screenplay from Emma Thompson and the magnificent performances make this movie a masterpiece and a sure contender for Oscar glory.
Best Original Screenplay
Best Film Editing
Best Orginal Score
Best Costume Design
Best Song - 'Through the Fire and On the Ashes' by Kelly Clarkson
Best Actress - Baby Keerthana
Best Actress - Dakota Fanning
Best Supporting Actress - Sally Field
Best Supporting Actress - Monica Bellucci
Best Supporting Actor - Naseerudin Shah
Best Foreign Language Film