Ever changing face of Indian cinema has always been a fascinating subject for me. As I had mentioned in one of my previous blogs, there used to be a time when one could rarely view a film that did not present stereotypical duplications of romance, relationships or representations of many aspects of individuals’ lives in their respective social milieus. Therefore, my joy knew no bounds when I noticed the current trend of Indian film makers, which is to challenge stereotypes, be it social, political or psychological issues. ‘Awe’ a Telegu film directed by Prasanth Varma conveys the inner machinations of a human mind affected by Multiple Personality Disorder also known as Dissociative Identity Disorder, which the medical dictionary defines as, “a condition in which two or more distinct identities or personality states alternate in controlling the patient’s consciousness and behaviour.” If society has been clueless about the mental state of a patient suffering from MPD or DID, this film would bring them out of the tunnel of darkness into the passage of light. The nuances with which the film director has handled this heavy theme deserves congratulations. But for the ingenious concluding scene with emphasis on the catalysts that trigger this condition (child abuse, re-emergence of such traumatic experiences and the patient’s need to switch to alternate personalities and their alters being distinctive individuals possessing different names, genders, histories, personalities, sexual orientations, age etc.) the message would have been lost on his viewers. The only way to escape from the alters, which could range from two to ten and sometimes even to a hundred, is the decision made by the lead actress in her role as a DID patient. A thought provoking film indeed.
Shelly Chopra Dhar’s directional debut ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ is a didactic film which focuses on the feelings of a girl who is different from the majority around her, due to her sexual preference, and who suffers in silence from her childhood through to her adolescence and to her womanhood. The only person who is aware that she is a lesbian is her brother who forces his sister to hide her true feelings as he shies away from the stigma he could face if this secret comes tumbling out of the closet and is revealed to his community members. With the constant encouragement of a playwright who comes to her hometown, she develops the confidence to emerge out of her cocoon of secrecy and acts in a play ending in a lesbian marriage to provide strength and confidence to girls like her in the urban community. The honesties and the earnestness with which the need for change has been conveyed deserves special credit.
Another Indian anthology film comprising of four short film segments that has left an everlasting impression on my mind is ‘Lust Stories’ directed by
Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap and Dibaker Banerjee. Each director has presented his story from a new angle and with a different cast. Being an advocate of womanism, the last segment arrested my attention. Women, who are dissatisfied with their male partners and who are strong in their convictions that they deserve sexual gratification from their boy friends or better halves, resort to vibrators. The toy, which serves as a substitute for a lover, does not make the women feel disadvantaged in any way or deprived and depraved. What is commendable about the direction of this segment is the realistic portrayal of a husband’s response to his wife’s reliance on a battery operated toy. The film segment, which is a deviant from mediocre male reactions to such a situation, captures the reaction of a husband who not only confesses his love for his wife despite what has happened but accepts his shortcomings and is looking forward to continuing his marital relationship with his life partner. A brave, novel approach indeed!