Based on Rabindranath Tagore's novel of the same name, this is a classic tale of deception, adultery and relationship exploitation and finally inner freedom.
Tagore's story is about our beautiful heroine, a young widow Binodini (Aishwarya Rai). Despite her dazzling beauty, two handsome men, the rich Mahindra (Prosenjit Chatterji) and his friend Behari (Toto Roychowdhury), denied marrying her.
Mahindra chooses a naive Ashalata (Raima Sen) over Binodini and marries her. Leaving behind the country life, the free-spirited Binodini accompanies Mahindra's mother to Calcutta as a caretaker. Soon, her friendship with Ashalata flourishes. It looks like, the two, addressing each other as 'Chokher Bali' (sand in the eyes), share an enduring bond. The English-speaking Binodini captures a special place in the house. But, soon, she unmasks her real face. Manipulating good-natured Ashlata, Binodini gets closer with Mahindra and fulfills her sexual desires.
When, she is thrown out by the enraged mother of Mahindra, Binodini seeks solace from a reluctant Behari. The remaining part of the story shows how the lives of these four characters crisscross and culminate in an unimaginable climax… Aishwarya walks through the role—a manipulative, rebellious lady, still gaining the viewer's sympathy—with a ballet dancer's elegance. The other lead artistes—Prosenjit Chatterjee, Raima Sen and Toto Roychowdhury—are equally brilliant, in enacting their characters.
The Inner Freedom
Tagore has penned this story narrating the nations' freedom movement in parallel. the author asserts the importance of individual freedom from the caged life. Binodini undergoes an awakening at Kashi, the place of Moksha. Usually when some one undergoes suffering in life and does an inner search , gets this awakening moments. Binodhini takes such moments to look deep in herself and realizes that she has been struggling for her inner freedom, which she writes in the letter, like the fight for India Independence.
All through her life she had catered to the wish of the Ego, which seeks only for its survival and in that struggle does not even hesitate to ruthlessly grab the peace of friends family kith and kin. When Binodini is abandoned by everyone she seeks solace in her Self, the source of all strength and peace. She frees herself from the tyrannical rule of her Ego (like India freeing from British rule) which is Moksha. The true meaning of Moksha is to get free from the rule of the Ego.
It is appropriate to quote here Gandhi's words "The protection of interpersonal freedoms can be the object of a social and political investigation, while the metaphysical foundation of inner freedom is a philosophical and psychological question. Both forms of freedom come together in each individual as the internal and external values mesh together in a dynamic compromise and power struggle; the society fighting for power in defining the values of individuals and the individual fighting for societal acceptance and respect in establishing one's own values in it.
Spiritually, freedom encompasses the peaceful acceptance of reality, which Binodhini finds in the end of Choker Bali. Ego is the Sand in the eye , which truly blinds and hurts the vision of Truth.