Daaryaa (The Square Circle)- Amol Palekar

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The Square Circle (Daaryaa) by Amol Palekar has quite a few treasures to discover and is one of the most well-aged Indian films. It is a beautiful portrayal of female friendship in the midst of looking for an identity. The women in the movie speak openly and plainly about the issues surrounding womanhood and it is an apt representation of women empowerment.
As the women help each other to grow and understand themselves, they work amongst themselves to break down the boundaries of gender and image that the Indian society seems to always want to hold against them. It is a powerful movie that would feel more relevant now than it ever has.
When Sonali Kulkarni is kidnapped and fated to be used as a sex worker, her destiny takes a turn when she escapes and meets Nirmal Pandey a transsexual. She’s a performer who travels while plying her trade and not giving attention to her male exterior. The transsexual consciously embraces her gender identity while living as a woman publicly.
Together, they go on a literal and metaphorical  journey and begin to experience life within the boundaries of a society dominated by men. The Girl has to mature faster than she thought she would and is in a situation she wouldn’t have thought she would be in. The Transexual turns into The Girl’s protector and mentor and stresses on her the importance of becoming an independent woman while creating her own identity. In terms of how the film tackles female identity and gender construction, the film is incomparable.
The main characters of the film are unnamed and rightly so because it shows the viewers that they could be the personification of anyone like them in real life. These women live in a society where they experience sex-trafficking, catcalling, the reality of arranged marriages, and possibly, even rape. However, it also instills in the viewer how harsh the female experience is. Yet, the fact that it’s within the apparent gender boundaries of an Indian society makes everything they go through more impactful.
While the characters sometimes face victimisation, they learn to depend on each other and never to see each other as the victims. Rather, their expectation of their ideal world lends a powerful air to the film. Daaryaa feels like an old film. However, the themes remain very much relevant in the world today. One powerful scene in the movie brings to light Bollywood culture while also highlighting rape culture.
The Girl at some point finds herself at the mercy of three men who try to attack and pursue her. Within the same scene, we see The Transexual walking along the land and singing her heart out. This moment was no mistake within the film. It’s a call to acknowledge that such things happen. Palekar has created an incredible film. It is one of the most needed films in the Indian neorealist realm. The film is a must-watch. It is as heartbreaking as it is engaging and heartfelt. 

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