Ek Hazarachi Note (Marathi, meaning One Thousand Rupee Note) is a mid 2014 released movie which underlines the pain a poor, haggard villager undergoes when suddenly thrust with a Rs 1000 currency note. 82 yr old widow, Buddhi (marathi for old), is attending a political rally in exchange for free dinner – very common in developing nations. That her farmer son committed suicide (under burden of failing harvest and rising debts, recently), makes the local politician gift Budhi a Rs 1000 note for a photo opportunity. That currency paper becomes hell for our protagonist as no one in that village, district or nearby town, has change for that big value a note, nor anyone seen enough to judge if it’s fake or real nor assured of encashing it further.
The story takes an unfortunate twist as a local hawaldar (ground police man) questions Buddhi as to where she got such a big note from. On knowing the truth, the local police play a double game with the politician, and his rival, with charges of bribing the poor in exchange for votes. Budhi, in meantime, spends days in jail with Sudama (her young neighboring well-wisher), some nights without a morsel of food and sometimes Sudama beaten by a belt. At the end, Buddhi’s entire life earnings go in bribing the police to come out of this mess. All, for a Rs 1000 note gifted to a poor, unfit, aging lady who works as a maid in nearby homes for living.
Initially, the prized currency became the light at end of the tunnel for her. Buddhi’s route to fulfilling her life term solutions – buy a new pair of glasses, get a new photo frame for her deceased son’s picture, new dress for herself and Sudama’s family (whom she now loved like her son). She had a smile on her face and wanted it to stay on. Her expense allocation didn’t bother repairing the dripping roof. But the moment she boarded the bus to nearby market, that same money started looking smaller and smaller in amount, heavier and heavier in burden.
The bus ticket conductor didn’t have change for Rs 1000 note, the spectacles shop owner was too awestruck at seeing it and the photo frame shop keeper flatly refused. When the garments shop owner didn’t accept it as wasn’t sure if its real or fake currency (printed from Pakistan), Buddhi and the viewer has reached the cusp of torrid frustration. But then, the bigger problems have only started.
33% of India who live BPL (Below Poverty Line) ie survive at less at $2 USD per day, or indeed 60% of India likely have never seen or used the now defunct Rs 1000 ($15 USD) currency. Hence it became strange news when media and social media kept on ranting on how banning the Rs 1000/Rs 500 notes on 8 Nov 2016, by Indian Government, impacted the poor.
The poor, their markets, their villages, or even their nearby semi towns hardly get to see Rs 500/ Rs 1000 notes. They deal in smaller currency and always in cash. That’s why banks are hardly present in heartlands of the country – the average ratio being one co-operative bank for every 1 million villagers staying nearby.
Hence people who really believed that the poor were robbed of Rs 500/Rs 1000, during India’s big Demonetisation announcement, need to watch this thought-provoking movie. The performances are good – Usha Naik and Sandeep Pathak excel – while director producer Shrihare Sathe has kept settings as authentic as possible.
IMDB viewers Rating: 8/10