The Mourner | Chicago Reader

The Mourner

This 1993 Indian feature opens with a stunning musical number that aptly summarizes the story: a quintet of backlit women with flowing hair and skirts dance across a large black-and-white chessboard, the credits superimposed in blood red. Directed by maverick independent Kalpana Lajmi, whose films about women's issues have raised hackles in India, it concerns a beautiful woman (Dimple Kapadia) who rejects the advances of a nobleman (Raj Babbar) to stick by her miscreant lower-caste husband. After he dies she incurs the wrath of a local pandit by taking in a prostitute who's carrying her son's child, and her only solace is her older friend (Rakhee Gulzar), a professional mourner for the rich and unloved. Kapadia, a 40-year-old glamour goddess who'd just staged a comeback, acquits herself well as the determined widow. In Hindi with subtitles. 128 min.

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