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Soul of Sand 2010

Recommended with reservations

Distributed by Global Film Initiative, 145 Ninth St., #105, San Francisco, CA 94103
Produced by Aruna Vasudev, Sidharth Srinivasan, and Divya Bhardwaj
Directed by Sidharth Srinivsan
DVD, color, 98 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Cultural Studies, Ethics, Film Studies, Gender Studies, Human Rights, Philosophy, Social Sciences, Sociology, Storytelling, Women’s Studies

Date Entered: 01/22/2013

Reviewed by Jennifer Dean, MALS student, City Univerity of New York (CUNY Graduate Center)

In Soul of Sand Mr. Bhanu is a watchman for the Royal Silica Mine, as his father was before him. The mine is no longer active and in a remote area of the National Capital Region of developing India. Mr. Bhanu’s boss, the “Master” is introduced somewhat sympathetically as he tries to convince his daughter to accept her arranged marriage before he is revealed to be a cruel sycophant, raping Bhanu’s wife and selling off his daughter to a much older man in order to secure his fortune and rid himself of the dilapidated mining property. The opening sequences of Soul of Sand depict beautiful still shots of the landscape and elements of industrialization accompanied by an ominous score that works in the beginning but becomes slightly overbearing as the movie progresses. Dibyendu Bhattacharya as Bhanu and Saba Joshi as his wife Saroj both give wonderfully subtle performances but the rest of the cast and general tone of the movie leans toward the melodramatic which works well at certain points and could be toned down at others. At one point a character with a scythe type axe lodged in his neck lumbers around a field before falling dead – unfortunately seeming more humorous than tragic as would be warranted by the story. The death of another character, though far from subtle, is more successfully handled when the face of her perpetrator is reflected in a pool of her blood without us having to witness the absurdity of the death itself. The movie explores well the themes of social caste and female struggles in India despite the moments of excess. Although somewhat Hollywood in sensibility Soul of Sand does not succumb to the good triumphing over evil trope. The movie is entertaining while simultaneously engaging the viewer in ethical issues and questions regarding the human condition in general as well as in India specifically. Although not always successful in its execution, the film is provocative and worthy of viewing and discussion.


  • Hubert Bals Fund Award International Film Festival of Rotterdam