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Film Critic & Writer

1973 | 82 Minutes | Hindi with English Subtitles

Based on a Rajasthani folktale retold by Vijayadan Detha, Duvidha is about a merchant’s son, whose relationship with his young bride, Lachhi is thwarted by his work and a ghost who falls in love with her, resulting in the ghost soon impersonating the husband.

This month’s film featured in our informal film club is Duvidha (1973), in memory and in celebration of Navroze Contractor’s legacy as a cinematographer and filmmaker, as part of a weekend of events in tribute to him. See here for more.

Duvidha is a hauntingly beautiful and thought-provoking film that delves into the realms of folklore, desire, and the complexities of human relationships. Based on a Rajasthani folktale, the film weaves a captivating tale of a young bride, Lachhi, whose newfound marriage is immediately put to the test by circumstances beyond her control.

On the very day of their wedding, Lachhi’s husband, a merchant’s son, departs on a five-year business trip, leaving her behind in the care of his family. Amidst this lonely existence, a mischievous and longing ghost, enchanted by Lachhi’s beauty, devises a cunning plan to impersonate her husband and gain her affection.

Director Mani Kaul’s masterful storytelling and Navroze Contractor’s exceptional cinematography breathe life into this enigmatic narrative, creating a hypnotic and surreal atmosphere that blurs the boundaries between the corporeal and the ethereal. The film’s striking visuals, infused with rich textures and rhythmic sequences, transport the viewer into the vibrant tapestry of Rajasthani culture, where the rhythms of daily life intertwine with the spectral realm.

At its core, Duvidha is a metaphysical exploration of love, desire, and the complexities of human relationships. The ghost’s obsession with Lachhi and his subsequent impersonation of her husband raise profound questions about identity, fidelity, and the nature of love itself. The film invites the viewer to ponder the depths of human longing and the lengths to which one might go to satisfy that longing.

Beyond its captivating narrative, Duvidha also serves as a powerful commentary on societal norms and gender dynamics. Lachhi’s predicament, torn between her duty as a wife and the allure of the supernatural, reflects the constraints and expectations placed upon women in traditional societies. The film subtly challenges these conventions, inviting the viewer to question the foundations upon which societal structures are built.

Ultimately, Duvidha is a cinematic masterpiece that transcends its folktale origins, offering a transcendent and thought-provoking exploration of the human condition. With its mesmerizing visuals, haunting narrative, and profound themes, the film continues to resonate with audiences, inviting them to embark on a journey that blends the fantastical with the deeply human.

Directed by Mani Kaul
Written by Vijayadan Detha
Screenplay by Mani Kaul
Based on Duvidha by Vijaydan Detha
Produced by Film Finance Corporation (NFDC), National Music Dance Centre
Cast: Ravi Menon, Raisa Padamsee
Cinematography by Navroze Contractor
Edited by Ravi Patnaik

Film writer and critic Srikanth Srinivasan will introduce the film and lead an informal discussion post screening.

About B•Cinematic

Calling all cinephiles! BIC is thrilled to present B•Cinematic, an initiative dedicated to celebrating the most essential, impactful, and artistically significant cinematic works from across the state and the country.

At B•Cinematic, our mission is to curate and share those remarkable films that is a must-watch (or re-watch) experience for every passionate cinema lover. From groundbreaking classics to under-appreciated gems, our carefully curated selection will take you on an unparalleled (pun not intended) cinematic journey through the ages.

Through curated screenings, insightful discussions, and engaging analyses from distinguished cinematic voices, we aim to not only watch these films together but to truly appreciate their craftsmanship, cultural impact, and intellectual depth. Our vibrant community of film aficionados will collectively rediscover Indian cinema’s most stunning and enduring masterpieces.

So join us on this quest to experience the films that have defined and redefined the art form. Don’t miss out on crossing these essential works off your bucket list. Because to truly live, you must first watch the films that make life worth living.


Srikanth Srinivasan

Film Critic & Writer

Srikanth Srinivasan is a film critic and programmer from Bangalore, India. His first book Modernism by Other Means, published by Lightcube in New Delhi in 2021, is devoted to the films of Indian filmmaker Amit Dutta. Dutta is the director of the film Nainsukh (2010), which is the subject of Srikanth’s second book, Still Lives, Moving Images, published by Museum Rietberg Zurich in 2023.