Papeeha
(1993)

(Certified: Aug 31, 1994)
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Forest Ranger Kabir Sagar is a dedicated officer, fiercely protective of the dense rich teak belt of Jharnapada. Despite Kabir's valiant efforts to guard the forests, onslaguhts on Teak Territory continue, often with the help of forest professional. In to Kabir's forest and life; enters Jiya Rajhans, come to study the modes of the local tribals. Kabir has no patience with such expert who photograph naked tribals, record a few songs; and return to write thesis on tribal life. Sensing his resentment, Jiya assumes a cold superior air. She does however take an instant liking to Bichhua, Kabir's devoted Man Friday. Mangeram lives in a palatial bunglow in the heart of the forest. He too is a "friend of trees". He has close ties with a multinational company which has designs on the Sacred Forest as a possible site for a rayon factory. Jiya gets acquainted with the tribal way of life. She goes to Bichhua's little hamlet in the interior, where he stays with his fiancee and her family. The tribals have a sophisticated approach to marriage. Kabir and his senior officer Chopra have a seirous argument about Kabir's refusal to certify the Sacred Forest as degarded. Mangeram rushes to Delhi on an urgent mission. Jiya, indignant at the hounding of tribals, feel they have a right to jungle produce. She leads a womens procession carrying headloads of firewood, defying the forest Departments orders. This incident finally brimgs Kabir and Jiya close. On a visit to the exotic weekly bazzar, he buys her a tiny ornate comb. She later learns that it is the tribal mans way of professing his love. If the girl reciprocates she wears the comb in the hair. Not seeking romantic involvement, Jiya hastily puts the comb away. Mangeram and Chopra set a plan in action. Kabir is sent away on a short course. The witch doctor brainwashes tribals into believeing that the Sacred Forest is possesed by evil spirits, each tree a threat to life. Big money is promised to the local men to cut down the massive trees. Mangeram paints a rosy picture of the all-round development that the intended factory will usher in. The men are inspired. Axes are sharpened. The women, fiercely loyal to the forest; are not impressed. Aided by Jiya and Bichhua, they make their own plans. Come D-Day the Sacred Forest is teeming with men armed with axes and saws. And then a miracle takes place. Women march to the forest, to save their beloved trees. Each man is confronted by a woman clutching a tree. Often his own wife, mother or child. Axes are dropped. The men are shamed into joining the women. Hired cutter arrive on the scene. But Kabir takes over, and the forest is saved. Jiya reveices a cable confirming her scholarship to study abroad. She rejects Kabir's proposal, and bids goodbye to Jharanapada with a heavy heart. Gudang Babas story is over, but the children are indignant. They refuse to accept the sad ending. Gudang is forced to continue the story. We see Bichhuas wedding festivities where Jiya makes a surprise appearance wearing comb in her hair, tribal style, signifying her acceptance of Kabir.

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