Laaz

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Drama



Synopsis: Laaz ( Laaj ) ( Eng. shame ) (Assamese. লাজ) ila was a good girl. although belonging to the fisher community she was neat and tidy in her attire. she had only one dress printed with red and white flowers but she kept the dress so clean it seemed as if she had seven dresses to wear in each of the seven days of the week. whenever she asked her father to buy her a piece of soap to wash her dress he would come back home and tell her that he would surely get her the soap next day, much to the chargin of her bedridden mother according to whom washing clothes with soap was a forbidden luxury for a fisherman's daughter. ila kept mumb. being innately intelligent she asked her teacher premoda to teach her the technique of cleaning dirty clothes with the burnt skin of dried banana leaves of which she read in her general knowledge book. though taken by surprise by ila's query, the teacher however, taught her the tactics and thus from next day onwards ila was saved from having to beg her father for the soap and from her mother's bickerings.
    but it seemed ila had no escape from her mother's incessant scoldings and scorns just like the other children whose mothers too were bedridden for the twelve months of the year like ila's. once, when khudmai's sickly mother could just about get her feet to touch the ground, she caught hold of khudmai's hair and gave her such a beating that she was determined to kill herself by drowning. it was by sheer luck that ila met her on the way and stopped her from attempting to do something so dreadful. the miserable khudmai desperately wished loudly for the next summer floods to wash away their houses along with the plague wrought creatures like her mother. same was the plight of khudu. but ila could never wish for such things even in her thoughts. at times ila felt like scolding god. her mother, like the other ailing people of the village, passed her days in indescribable agony and pain which could not be relieved by wearing any number of charms or amulets or by drinking the occasional healing water given by kaviraj, the 'gosain'(spiritual guide) who came to their village twice a year to dig a big hole in her father's pocket.
    ila was a clever girl and passed her lower primary classes in flying colours. according to her parents, that was enough. but at the intervention of her teacher, premoda who promised to provide ila with the necessary books and a dress, her father reluctantly allowed her to go to the bigger school some one and a half miles away. soon ila 
attracted the attention of the teachers with her intelligence but at the same time the sheer poverty of ila's family did not go unnoticed. the teachers made attempts to lighten the poor ten year old girl's downtrodden demeanour but in vain. meanwhile her mother, who was pregnant and suffering from some unknown desease, died and ila was left with the responsibility of looking after the household and her two small brother and sister. despite everything she continued to excel in studies which earned her special gifts from the teachers like a pen, a dress etc. the final exams were just round the corner and everybody in the school were pinning their hopes at ila. she would surely top the list and win a merit scholarship which would earn accolades for the school as well. but to everyone's surprise and dismay ila stopped coming to school. after a lot of cajoling and persuasion from the teachers, ila appeared in the selection exams and stood first, once again there was no trace of ila, that too, when only two months were left for the finals. the teachers desperately looked for ila but she seemed to have vanished into thin air. at long last ila appeared in the school compound one day with her tattered dress firmly held between her thighs. the headmaster asked her rather sternly, "we've been looking for yopu desperately. where were you? why haven't you come to school?" ila replied in a trembling voice, "sir, i have no underwear." saying this she pressed her dress tightly between her thighs.
    "no sir" said ila and broke down sobbing before the headmaster while with her hands she consciously pulled her dress between her thighs in case the wind lifted it up.
 

Producer: Manju Borah

Director: Manju Borah

Story: Arun Goswami

Screenplay: Manju Borah

Dialogue: Basanta Das

Cinematography: Raju Mishra

Music: Tarali Sarma

Editing: A. Sreekar Prasad

Sound: K. Lakshminarayanan

Art: Phatik Baruah

Make-Up: Uday Mandal

Cast: Jafreen, Himshikha, Juena, Arun Hazarika, Jatin Goswami, Sreelekha Mukherjee, Bishnu Khargharia, Parag Baruah, Rajen Phukan, Tapan Kalita, Dilip Borah and Purnima Saikia.

Other Film Festivals in which the film has participated, with year and awards: Selected in Indian Panoroma, 2005. Awarded ‘Jury Mention’ in 2nd International Film Festival of Bangladesh, 2004. Selected in 10th Kolkata Film Festival, 2004. Selected in 2nd Asian Children’s Film Festival, Hyderabad, 2004. Selected in 3rd Chennai International Film Festival, 2005. Selected in International Children’s Film Festival, Bangalore, 2005. Selected as ‘Inaugural Film’ in 40th Annual Film Festival, Berhampore, 2004. Best Director, Assam State Film Award, 2004.

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