Julie (2004)

Beautiful Mind, Bold Profession
Here’s a tale of a hooker that hooks you. Go with open eyes and mind and you will come away an enriched person from this elevating film about a fallen woman. Catch her if you can. She’s Julie. A nice wholesome impish girl from Goa who ends up in five-star hotels of Mumbai peddling, in the words of the film’s excellent dialogue writer, “a woman’s most effective weapon” – her body.

Cast: Neha Dhupia, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Yash Tonk

There have been many films on an unsullied woman’s journey into the arms of corruption – some outstanding, others mediocre, and then the rest plainly exploitative. Deepak Shivdasani’s film falls in a different, refreshing and often startling niche. The segmented plot – tautly written and worded – takes the protagonist through three phases in her life, all qualified by a male presence.

In the way the men in her life define her odyssey from purity to damnation, “Julie” is structurally akin to Shyam Benegal’s “Bhumika”. The cerebral serenity that was affordable to Benegal is, alas, denied to Shivdasani. His cinema addresses itself to an audience that’s neither intellectually equipped nor inclined to be patient with the polemics of a grossly unequal social order where a woman’s right to her body and mind is constantly reliant on the male order.

For all its extraneous and intrinsic limitations, “Julie” succeeds in packing in a rousing punch. The expertly plotted narrative manages to include cutting comments on the commodification of a woman’s body and soul, and on the media exposure of private emotions – Achint Kaur excellently portrays the dilemma of a TV anchor.

Director Shivdasani, so far not renowned for any extraordinary skills of sensitivity, keeps his narrative miraculously free of verbal and visual sleaze. There are long lovemaking sequences replete with wet smooches. These appear more aesthetic and mature than the clumsy love scenes filmed on the call girl (played by Rekha) in Basu Bhattacharya’s “Astha”.

Far from being offensive in its attitude to sex, “Julie” actually turns around to become a scathing women’s picture. The suffering of the protagonist in a masculine, predatory world echoes the greatest films on female resilience – from Nargis in “Mother India” to Shabana Azmi in “Bhavna”.

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Video Source: DVD
Host: Zshare
Chapters: 4

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