Draupadi Unleashed (2019)

In the 1930’s, India was under British rule and tradition rules all, including young women and their options in getting married. With her decisions made for her, a young woman wrestles with her feelings for her potential husband and another, showing the life of women in a male dominated world.

Written by Tony Stopperan based on the novel by Nisha Sabharwal and directed by the both of them, the film shows a great control of the look of things and the mood, but also of what happened to women of many generations under traditional rule in India. This means that their lives are not really their own and they can decide to make the most of it or let it destroy their souls. The film is one that shows hope and sadness, eventually becoming a bit heavy handed unfortunately. Some of the last third just become tedious after the rest of the film being a gorgeous sad story to watch. Of course, North American traditions and upbringings will make watching this story different than it will be for those with more knowledge of the traditions shown in the film. This does not mean that only folx with knowledge of these traditions can love this story, but that some of it will not connect as well with Western audiences.

The film and its interest may lie more with the look of it and its atmosphere. The look of the film is lush and stunning, it creates an atmosphere of luxury and clearly indicate that the story takes place in the higher sections of society. The looks of the house and its décor give it an austere, yet comfortable feel, making it a place for all the ladies to evolve even when they can’t really leave the house.

In terms of cast, it should be noted that even though the film is about the women and their lives, the main cast lists 3 males first, thus relegating the actual leading characters to second fiddle, something that may have been done by accident, but comes off as rather fitting for a film about how women’s lives were controlled by men. To correct this, the leads will here be considered to be leading ladies, including Pooja Batra, Melanie Chandra, Anna George, and Azita Ghanizada. These ladies act in ways that put them at the forefront of the story and make them the ones the viewers will remember. Their performances make the film and sell the plight of women in 1930’s India. These ladies are fantastic at what they do.

Draupadi Unleashed is an interesting film that has a few uplifting moments, but is overall rather depressing in how it paints women and their plights. There isn’t much they can do to get themselves out of there, so they have to hope for a good arranged marriage even if they do not get to select their spouse. The film shows this and shows how some will work with it to make the most of their lives and others will let darkness overtake them.