When Salma was 13, her parents took her out of school and locked her away in a room with a single window. After nine years she gave in to pressure to agree to an arranged marriage and was released from her house arrest into another kind of prison, in the home of her new husband’s family.
Throughout her desperate years of confinement, Salma poured out her anguish writing poetry, which she sneaked out of the house, eventually getting a notebook into the hands of an enthusiastic publisher. Against the odds, Salma became one of the best known Tamil poets and her newfound fame helped her start on the path to freedom.
Following Salma on a trip back to her village, renowned British director Kim Longinotto paints a nuanced portrait of an extraordinary, resilient woman. DocHouse is bringing Salma to London RichMix tonight and Sophie Mayer reviews the film for The F-Word’s readers:
Salma is as artful as its protagonist and her poetry. In particular, Longinotto’s eye takes advantage of the deep colours worn by the women, set against cool turquoise walls, and of the contrasting village landscapes and cityscapes, to offer a subtle and un-touristy picture of Tamil Nadu. The unforced, intimate conversations of women at work in domestic interiors lends many scenes their energy and fascination, setting up a contrast with the more formal to-camera interviews with Malik and with Salma’s other family members. Some viewers may be frustrated with the amount of time given to establishing the delicate and complex web of relations in the village, drawing focus from Salma, but it pays off in the extraordinary conclusion.