Made by upcoming woman director Mohanjeet Kalsi, the award winning short film The Blue Helmet raises important questions about road safety.
The movie centres on Mira (acted by Hira Mehta), an older woman with a positive attitude to life, living alone in Mumbai. At the surface level, Mira’s life seems similar to any other woman leading a solitary life. But, is it really?
The film encapsulates a typical day in Mira’s life. Like clockwork, she wakes up and goes about her daily chores. From brushing her teeth to relishing her morning cup of tea, her life comprises the same mundane activities as any other person’s. Except that she does everything wearing a shiny blue helmet!
At the market, she is seen accidentally bumping into things, her helmet definitely not helping matters. Needless to say, she becomes the object of ridicule for clueless onlookers. If the giggling women pointedly making faces at her to men casting bemused glances bother her, her expression doesn’t give it away. In fact, her expression is unreadable as she buys her groceries, seemingly oblivious to the attention she is drawing.
On her way back home, Mira almost collides with a two-wheeler. The helmeted rider, who looks petrified, expects a stern telling-off. But he is flabbergasted when she instead warmly caresses his cheek. So, why does this woman exhibit such unpredictable behaviour? What is the mystery surrounding her? And why does she constantly wear the blue helmet?
Just shy of 10 minutes, The Blue Helmet attempts to convey an important message on road safety.
Every year road accidents claim millions of lives; a significant portion constitutes death by two-wheeler accidents. So, it begs the question: shouldn’t one wear a helmet and save their family from a lifetime of pain? Through Mira’s predicament, The Blue Helmet underlines the excruciating pain a mother goes through at the loss of their child. A child whose life could possibly have been saved had he just worn his helmet.
Besides road safety, the film also subtly hints at the judgemental nature of our society. A person who doesn’t conform to society’s ideals of appropriate dressing is mocked at. Mira’s helmet invites derision but who are we to judge her? And is this attitude of society the reason why so many young people fail to wear the life saving helmet?
Part of The Blue Helmet’s brilliance lies in the fact that not a single word is exchanged throughout the film. And yet, so much is expressed. The story flows seamlessly. In fact, the subject matter has been dealt with brilliant precision, infusing just the right amount of humour. Be it Mira’s clumsy antics or the reactions of puzzled onlookers, it is not all seriousness and no comedy. It gives the viewer several light-hearted moments as well.
But, it is impossible to speak about this film without appreciating Hira Mehta’s acting. Without uttering a word, her expressions and gestures speak volumes. Even her absent-minded mishaps allude to a possible inner turmoil in the deep, dark crevices of her mind. Her face registers every emotion – from exasperation at her maid to pain upon being injured – with singular beauty.
Count your blessings, says the film, and wear a helmet on the road.
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HR by profession, but a writer by choice, I find creative respite through writing.
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