|Directed by||Jag Mundhra|
|Produced by||Gaurang Joshi
|Written by||Screenplay: Ashok Mishra, Sudha Arora
Dialogue: Hariram Acharya, Deepak Purohit
Jag Mundhra (written by)
|Starring||Deepti Naval, Nandita Das|
|Music by||Vishwa Mohan Bhatt|
|Edited by||Jag Mundhra|
|Language||Hindi, Rajasthani, English|
Bawandar (English title: The Sand Storm) is a 2000 Indian film, based on the true story of Bhanwari Devi, a rape victim from Rajasthan, India. The film depicts the personal trauma, public humiliation and legal injustice that Bhanwari Devi went through, while pursuing justice in the Indian courts.
Bawandar is based on the true story of Bhanwari Devi's gang-rape case. The names of characters and places have been changed for legal reasons. For example, Bhanwari's character is called Sanwari, her husband Mohan's character is called Sohan, and their village is called Dhabri (Bhateri in real life).
The story is introduced through first-part narration by a foreign reporter called Amy (Laila Rouass), who has read about Sanwari's case in a newspaper. Amy and her friend-cum-interpreter Ravi (Rahul Khanna) visit Sanwari's village to investigate the matter, five years after the gang rape incident. On their arrival in Rajasthan, they encounter an old man Sohan (Raghuvir Yadav), who helps them on their way to a village where they encounter Sanwari's rapists. Sohan turns out to be Sanwari's husband, and tells the tale of Sanwari's rape case.
Shobha (Deepti Naval) is a social worker who works for the Government of India. Her job involves create awareness against child-marriage and other social evils. In Dhabri, she recruits Sanwari (Nandita Das) as a saathin, a grassroots worker employed as part of the Women's Development Project run by the Government of Rajasthan. Sanwari is a low-caste potter; her husband Sohan is a rickshaw-puller, and the couple has a young girl called Kamli.
As part of her job, Sanwari educates the womenfolk in the village against child marriages, and invites ire of the conservative village elders. Most of these villagers belong to the Gurjar community, which is upper in the caste hierarchy. Five men decide to teach Sanwari a lesson, when she informs the police about a child marriage happening in the Gurjar community. They beat up her husband and gang-rape her.
Sanwari and Sohan go to the police station, but the inspector (Ravi Jhankal) refuses to lodge a First Information Report in absence of a medical report. The doctor won't issue a medical report in absence of a court order. With Shobha's help, the couple finally manages to get a court order. With the court order, they get a medical certificate in Jaipur, and a complaint is lodged two days after the incident.
However, the rapists are not arrested and roam around freely, boasting about their experience with Sanwari. Sanwari's case gets nation-wide attention and the Prime Minister of India himself entrusts the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation. A women's NGO in Delhi also tries to help Sanwari.
The accused are arrested and tried in the court, but they are backed by the local MLA Dhanraj Meena (Govind Namdeo). Meena hires a lawyer called Purohit to defend the accused. A Gurjar lawyer (Gulshan Grover) defends Saanwari, but faces pressure from his community to favor the accuse. The judges handling the case are transferred multiple times, and the final judgement goes against her.
Bhanwari refuses to give up her fight for justice, in spite of unhelpful villagers and relatives, an incompetent police force, and a corrupt judicial system.
- Nandita Das - Saanvri
- Raghuvir Yadav - Sohan (Saanvri's husband)
- Deepti Naval - Shobha Devi
- Rahul Khanna - Ravi
- Laila Rouass - Amy
- Govind Namdeo - Dhanraj Meena (MLA)
- Ishrat Ali - Purnia Gujjar (sarpanch)
- Yashpal Sharma - Sarju
- Lalit Tiwari - Tej Karan
- Anupam Shyam - Mangal Panda (pandit)
- Ashok Banthia
- Shri Vallabh Vyas - (as Shrivallabh Vyas)
- Ravi Jhankal - Police Inspector
- Mohan Bhandari
- Lillete Dubey
Before the film's release, Bhanwari Devi stated that the filmmakers didn't discuss the film with her, she never took any money from them and she wasn't shown the film. Sukhmani Singh, a journalist, reported that Bhanwari Devi was "weary, resigned and bitter". According to him, a small-time political worker and businessman describing Bhanwari as a "rakhi sister" had brokered a deal with Mundhra for the film. The director Jag Mundhra stated that he had screened the film for Bhanwari and her family. He also stated that he took Bhanwari to HDFC Bank's Jaipur branch, opened an account in her name, and deposited £3,000 from the film's London charity show in the account. According to him, Bhnawari might be reluctant to admit receiving the money, fearing opposition from women activists. In 2007, Shivam Vij reported that "Bhanwari Devi is most angry with those who made the film Bawandar".
Some women's organizations opposed the film due to concerns about Bhanwari Devi being exposed to hostile public scrutiny. The police also felt that the film "falsifies their role inexcusably". There was also concern that the film may end up annoying the Gurjar community, to which the accused belong. The State Government was apprehensive about the film leading to caste-based tensions.
The film was submitted to the examining committee of the Central Board of Film Certification on 18 September 2000. The committee head Asha Parekh despatched it to the revising committee, which saw the film on 6 October, and gave it the expected "Adult" certificate. It recommended five cuts, two of which were described by the journalist Pinki Virani as "grotesquely unfair to Bhanwari Devi". The first cut was Bhanwari Devi and her husband being held down by men, as she is raped by an uncle-nephew pair. The censors found inappropriate the forcing apart of the woman's legs. The second cut was the "visuals of suggestive masturbation by a police officer".
- Aayo Holi, sung by Sapna Awasthi and Ram Shankar
- Ab To Jagna Hi Hoga
- Ab To Jagya, sung by Mahalakshmi Iyer and chorus
- Ghaghario, sung by Sapna Awasthi
- Har Aayo, sung by Parmeshwari and chorus
- Ab To Jagya - 2
- Ab To Jagya - 3, sung by Sonali Vajpayee
- Kesaria (Instrumental)
- Kesaria (Sad), sung by Rita Ganguly
- Tumse Achha Kaun Hai, sung by K Vikas
The film was showcased at several international film festivals and won multiple awards:
- Audience Choice Award , Bermuda International Film Festival (2001)
- Political Film Society, USA (PFS) Award - Peace Category (2004) 
- Best Actress (Nandita Das), Santa Monica Film Festival
- 2001: Zanzibar International Film Festival: Golden Dhow
- Pushkar Raj (February 2002). "Gender inequality and development in society". PUCL Bulletin. People's Union for Civil Liberties. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Rohit Parihar (2001-12-01). "Desert Storm". India Today. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Smriti Ananth (2001-12-28). "A film album supervisedby Vishwamohan Bhatt". The Music Magazine. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Shivam Vij (2007-10-13). "A Mighty Heart". Tehelka. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Pinki Virani (2001-03-04). "Long wait for justice". The Hindu. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Awards IMDB.