Umbartha, India, 28 May 1982

Sulabha Mahajan (played by  Smita Patil) is a woman who dreams to step out of the four walls of the house, assume greater responsibility as a citizen and play an important role in shaping the society. She has passion to do something constructive for the abused, assaulted, neglected and traumatized womenfolk of the society she lives in. She gets a job offer as Superintendent of a Women's Reformatory Home in a remote town of Sangamwadi. The job offer raises objections from her lawyer husband Subhash (played by Girish Karnad) and conservative mother-in-law who refuse to understand her need to move to the town and work for rehabilitation of the women. But her sister-in-law supports her by offering help in looking after her young daughter Rani. Determined Sulabha then goes ahead with her dream job.

She meets various challenges in her new endeavor. She starts with bringing discipline in the Home and also discovers frauds that take place there. But she is not helped by the managing committee which is filled with selfish and careless people. She hence decides to take steps against their sanction. She starts some classes to educate willing women and also marries off one of the inmates in order to give a new start to her life. She discovers how a local MLA Bane has been regularly using the inmates of the home to satisfy his sexual needs. Two of the inmates decide to run away but are forcefully brought back to the home. They both commit suicide by burning themselves. Sulabha is then questioned by committee and newspapers for her improper control on the home. An administrative enquiry is set up against her. It is then that she decides to resign and give up all her work and return home.



Umbartha (IPA:Umbaraṭhā) (Marathi: उंबरठा; English: Threshold) is a 1982 Marathi film produced by D. V. Rao and directed and coproduced by Dr. Jabbar Patel. The film is a story of a woman's dream to step outside her four walled home and bring change in the society. Smita Patil played the lead protagonist in the film for which she won Marathi Rajya Chitrapat Puraskar for Best Actress. The film was adjudged as the Best Feature Film in Marathi at the 29th National Film Awards for "a sincere cinematic statement on the theme of a woman seeking to establish her identity by pursuing a career, even at the risk of alienation from her family".