The Servant's Shirt

  • 105'
  • India
  • 1998
Naukar ki Kameez is not a 'period' film but carries the pre-Open Market ambience of the sixties in India. The film evokes the quality of life that India realised in its fifty years of Russian-inspired 'Socialism'. From the administrative chief, the Sahib, who lives in a colonial bungalow with his wife, to the alcoholic Head Clerk Bade Babu who whiles away time in the office looking for a domestic for the Sahib, to Santu, the junior hero of the film and his wife who struggle against a leaking roof in the rains, the film builds on a pyramid of hierarchical relationships in gross and subtle examples. The language of hidden manipulations that the characters employ in dealing with officials or even in personal relationships is near farcical: as if an ability to win a conversation were the end of all exchange. In these people a capacity to tolerate the absurd, results in an inertia that hangs in tragi-comic air. Santu's wife Bahu, who at first appears a conventional lower-middle-class housewife, is gradually able to express her inner strength. Along with the film, she develops from the typical Indian position to an equal within the relationship. Ironically, the film betrays a strange hope that seems lost today.
Director
Mani Kaul
Premiere
World premiere
Country of production
India
Production Year
1998
Festival Edition
IFFR 1999
Length
105'
Medium
35mm
Original title
Naukar Ki Kameez
Language
French
Producers
Miryam van Lier, Ant Carry The Mountain Films
Sales
Ant Carry The Mountain Films
Screenplay
Mani Kaul
Editor
Mani Kaul