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Kajol’s Short Film Devi A Must-Watch Commentary On The Gruesome Reality Of Indian Women

Posted: March 4, 2020
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“9 fierce women, 9 different backgrounds, 1 stark reality”. This stark reality is of Indian women, rape and murder, seen in the 13 minute short film Devi.

The film released on 2nd March is set in a single room occupied by several women, some almost unconscious or vegetative in the background while nine of them lead the plot on.

Written and directed by Priyanka Banerjee, Devi thus becomes an exploration of what binds these women together.

Announcing her short film Devi on February 24th Kajol had said in a tweet – “”9 fierce women, 9 different backgrounds, 1 stark reality.” The stark reality she was hinting at is rape and murder.

A look at this gruesome reality

Even by physical appearance the diversity of this group of women is established in the very first scene – various age groups, different social strata – medical student, English-speaking working woman, homemaker taking the arti-thali around the house, elderly maushis playing cards, party girl, teenager with a disability, burkha-clad Muslim woman waxing her legs, and yet all of them together in a crowded noisy room.

As the doorbell rings a debate ensues as to whether she, the visitor should be allowed in or not. It unravels that these are all rape and murder victims stuck in the same purgatory kind of space. Watching the news on their dysfunctional television which again symbolizes a media that has failed these women, they learn that their little space will keep getting more and more occupants every day.

They try to debate then the criteria of who is eligible to get a space there and bring forth the problematic aspect of sexual violence – that while they all have met a similar fate ultimately no two acts of sexual violence are the same and yet all are equally traumatic and tragic.

A rape where the victim was burnt alive cannot and must not be pitched against another case where the victim later died of trauma. A rape where the rapist was younger must not and cannot be compared to what relationship was there or not between the rapist and the victim.

The gruesome methods of murder are also discussed, and finally it is decided that they can’t let those waiting outside wait forever. Since they were “adjusting” in their earlier lives as well they might as well adjust here. Jyoti played by Kajol in this short film Devi says- “….better than living with those demons.”

Watch the short film Devi here

A commentary on women’s safety in India

The 13 minutes long film is a vivid commentary on the state of women’s safety in India, however the execution could be too nuanced to understand for a lay person. The first few minutes generate intrigue; it is much later in the film that it is established that these are all “dead women”.

The twist and final comment comes in the form of the newest member of the room brought in by Jyoti- a girl child. The end slate brings statistics and the irony of worshipping Goddesses where crimes against women and girls are constantly rising.

The film successfully showcases how rape and murder have become the ugly fact for Indian women across age, social status, religion, education and class.

The film has come at a time when the country is still awaiting the execution of the death penalty in the Nirbhaya gang rape case after almost eight years of the crime. The women in Devi are symbols of the women victims who have become mere statistics, and each case meets the same fate after grabbing social and media attention for a few days.

It is a dystopia albeit “a room of one’s own” for these women, for whom this isn’t a choice. The helplessness of these women is a mirror held to the helplessness of the society as a whole when it comes to sexual crimes against women.

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Pooja Priyamvada is a columnist, professional translator and an online content and Social Media consultant.

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