A still from the film
A still from the film

Preview | Ek Hazarachi Note

A Marathi movie about poverty and unexpected liquidity in a Vidarbha village

What happens when you put a handful of 1,000-rupee notes into the hands of a woman who measures her expenditure in low-denomination coins?

Shrihati Sathe’s Marathi language debut, Ek Hazarachini Note, explores the quandary in which Usha Naik’s Budhi finds herself after a vote-hungry politician thrusts the red-tinged currency into her hands. Budhi is a widow from a village in the Vidarbha district who has lost her husband and son to farming-related debts. She has a set routine: she wakes up in the morning, spends a few rupees on a daily breakfast of jaggery-laced tea and bread, earns her living as a maid, and spends time with Sudama (Sandeep Pathak), who lives in the shack next to hers. The munificence of a visiting politician (Ganesh Yadav) breaks the pattern of forced minimalism. Budhi now has more liquidity than before, not enough to lift her out of poverty, but enough to be able to change the broken glass in her spectacles and afford a new frame for her beloved son’s portrait and clothes for Sudama’s family. Budhi and Sudama set out to the local market for a shopping expedition, setting into motion an unexpected series of events. Ek Hazarachi Note opens with English subtitles on 9 May in a hundred screens across Maharashtra.

Shrihati Sathe

The movie was actually shot in Bhor, near Pune. Sathe doesn’t disguise Budhi’s impecunious circumstances, but she faces her condition with determination rather than defeat. “I didn’t want to show poverty porn," he said. “The people in Vidarbha are quite resilient, and they look at life with a positive outlook. The story that shaped up was that despite poverty, a poor old lady could be happy. Sathe wouldn’t put a figure to the movie’s modest budget. “All I can say is that it’s more than a thousand rupees," he said.

Ek Hazarachi Note opens on 9 May across Maharashtra.