"Gangster films do not interest me including the ones Mr. Ramgopal Varma has made" - Lalit Marathe, Director, SHABRI (2011)

Still from SHABRI (Hindi, 2011) Bollywood Film

Mumbai, July 20, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Shabri is the story of how a simple woman from a Mumbai slum ends up threatening the biggest corridors of power in the matka gambling underworld of the city. It’s a story of survival, dignity, determination, and human triumph in the face of impossible odds.

Shabri works in a flour mill to support her parents and a younger brother Bandya who is struggling to find some means of livelihood. The neighborhood is teeming with young jobless desperate boys whose heroes are the local matka gambling den operators. Bandya looks up to Murad who runs a matka den.

Murad has a soft corner for both Shabri and Bandya. Murad who has himself being sucked into the black hole of survival that the neighborhood breeds, does not want Bandya to meet the same fate. He wishes him to study, get a degree and wriggle out of the cursed place. He helps Bandya with money time and again and inspires him of a world beyond.

Shabri’s life takes a turn when the dreaded Police Inspector Khare rounds off the innocent Bandya alongwith other unruly boys from the neighborhood. Bandya succumbs to police torture and the impassioned Shabri ends up violating the law.

Murad, Shabri’s only hope discovers how hopelessly incapable he is of helping her in her dire need. His desperation lands Murad in further trouble as he ends up killing his immediate boss Kisnya, the brother of the city Matka don, Rajdharbhau.
Murad with partner Vilas’s help flees the city with Shabri.

But Rajdharbhau closes in on the two.

Hounded by cops as well as the matka kingpins, the vengeful Shabri has only one mission in life now, to get even with Rajdharbhau the man who took away all that she ever had.

The Characters

1.    SHABRI: She runs a flour mill to support her family. Shabri has all her hopes pinned on Bandya who she feels would support her burden soon. Shabri’s world comes crumbling down with Bandya’s sudden death. And her life spirals into a series of events that make her a gangster woman.

2.    MURAD: A local matka den operator Murad is large hearted and generous. Being a victim of the neighbourhood, Murad knows its ways and does not want Bandya to meet the same fate that he did. But he realizes his own limitations when he is unable to get Bandya out of the police hands. Riddled by self guilt and burdened by his past Murad trudges along trying all that he could to help Shabri.

3.    BANDYA: Shabri’s younger brother, Bandya realizes he must do something fast in life to help support his family. Pressured by the local neighbourhood boys Bandya feels he must take up anything to make money. But Murad the local matka den operator inspires Bandya to strive for a future beyond the neighbourhood. And Bandya dreams of making it big. Unfortunately Bandya’s flight is cut short by a fateful encounter with Inspector Khare that ends his life.

4.    VILAS: Murad’s partner and friend Vilas is practical and advises Murad to steer clear of the chances he takes in business. After Murad’s death Vilas stands beside Shabri and helps her reach Rajdharbhau.

5.    RAJDHARBHAU: The king of matka operators in the city, Rajdharbhau controls many small matka dens like the one Murad runs. Rajdharbhau is deeply pained with the death of Kisnya, his younger brother. It is a blow that he fails to recover from till the end.

6.    INSPECTOR QAZI: Reputed as one of the most cold blooded cops in the city police force, Irfan Qazi is now bored of the routine police investigations, encounters and killings. He now seeks entertainment in his work and plays with the criminals that he intends to arrest. At any given time Qazi knows each detail of the criminal he trails but he prefers to give them a longer rope to hang themselves. And the longer they struggle the better he gets entertained. Qazi who is after Shabri realizes that she has the potential to get to the mighty Rajdharbhau. And he in his own inimitable style helps her with one small detail that helps her reach her goal.

Director Lalit Marathe writes, "Gangster films do not interest me including the ones Mr. Ramgopal Varma has made. I have never known a gangster in my life, man or woman. But the process of a tormented mind resorting to violence, the moral choices made in taking the first step on the path of no return have always fascinated me.

The intensity, the concentration of intent in these choices can be scorching. But if we see a ‘to be’ gangster in a room making that choice, withdraw and include his neighbour bathing her child, step further away to see a man selling his wares on the street beyond the wall, traffic piling up, kids going to school and so forth, the magnitude of that choice can be devastating. Shabri is an effort to portray a woman next door who has made this choice and where that choice leads her.
Shabri supports a family by working in a flour mill in a slum. She becomes this girl with a gun in a man’s world and ends up threatening the biggest corridors of power in the Matka gambling underworld of Mumbai. Shabri’s quest in the film is similar to a resourceful working woman rising to challenge a superior. Despite her daily struggle to survive and keep her family afloat deep within all that Shabri has desperately wanted to do is to stand up and be counted. And this is the biggest trigger for the fateful choice she makes.

Most achievements are directly proportionate to the ferocity of hunger and the finality of the pangs. Shabri feels raw hunger. She is driven as much by the passion for vengeance as the terrible desire to live her life her own way.

When inspired nothing in the world can stop what must rise. When everything is at stake there is nothing to lose. Shabri is an underdog whose stubbornness to have her way against all odds will touch a chord in all those who dream to soar.

May the force of Shabri be with you!"

SHABRI (Hindi, 2011)
Director : Lalit Marathe
Producer : Ram Gopal Varma
Artists (Cast) : Isha Koppikar, Raj Arjun, Manish Wadhwan, Pradip Rawat, Zakir Hussain, Vijay Kadechkar, Sanjay Kulkarni, Datta Sonawane, Vimal Mhatre, Kishore Nandlaskar, Niraj Kumar, Ragesh Asthana, Parvez Khan

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