When one watches films regularly, there is an unavoidable monotony that sets in, especially in terms of genre and plot. But ever so rarely comes a film which makes you sit up and reflect on society and its ills. Directed by Vijay Kumar Arora, the Punjabi-language Kali Jotta is one such film. Written by Harinder Kour, Kali Jotta tells a story about the death of a woman’s spirit at the hands of misogyny.

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We learn about Rabiya in flashback, where we see her as a fun-loving woman who is in love with Deedar (Satinder Sartaaj). She teases him and although he secretly likes her, he is reticent about expressing his feelings for her. Life takes them on different paths and the two are unable to articulate their desire for each other. Rabiya gets a job at a government school and although she is financially independent, society judges her for being a single woman who pines for Deedar. When Deedar is engaged to another woman, Rabiya is heartbroken. As a young, unmarried woman without a father, she is vulnerable and alone. The men in power take advantage of her and she is discarded, broken and alone.

Kali Jotta examines the ways in which a young woman is always in peril, with predators circling around her, biding their time as they prepare to pounce. A woman who expresses herself simply must be tamed. “Some small injustices keep happening to women,” says a character rather nonchalantly, highlighting the accepted way in which patriarchy treats women.

Significantly, the film foregrounds the issue of mental harassment, something that does not get the scrutiny it deserves. Rabiya is a victim, who descends into madness, unable to cope with the injustice being meted out to her. Although her story unfolds in an earlier decade, one cannot help but wonder how much the situation has changed today.