For a major part of history women were anonymous. They lurked in the oblivion of societal pressure, chauvinistic rules and sacrificial customs made by cultures around the world. But it’s difficult to contain a storm with shallow norms and they broke all the shackles and reached at par with the world and found their inner voice, their center of belief. She stood right there in front of the same society which suppressed her and there she was, looking into the eye of everyone with gleaming confidence in her eyes and alacrity in her heart to lead the change, to break orthodox norms which hinder the growth of a moth into a stunning butterfly.
Shomshukla’s debut feature film also believes in the above notion and narrates the journey of a woman from moth to a butterfly and how she carves out a space for herself in the society battling societal pressure and her self-created social limitations. It fittingly recounts the challenges a young Indian women faces from her parents, siblings and the whole structure of the society which considers change as an act of rebellion and deems it unacceptable.
Sheila a young woman, like any other Indian woman has her aspirations. She dreams of becoming a writer but is soon married to a successful Indian guy, Vikram (Rajat Sharma), who believes in the traditional values of his culture but at the same time believes in the individuality of women also to an extent. Their marriage is successful but to Sheila it’s more driven by duty and her desire for harmony rather than spontaneity and love. She is happy but not ecstatic, she lives her life but doesn’t savor its flavors. She crushes her need to spread her wings in full splendor and to vent out that desire of free expression which was suppressed since years, Maya is born. Maya, the central character of Sheila’s first novel is the answer of her sub-conscious to the societal suppression, she is an illusion, an escape from the real world but Maya is also the stick Sheila Needs to find her inner voice which is hidden behind layers of relationship clutter, emotional turmoil and social prejudice.
The debut movie of Shomshukla has its heart in the right place and is a well-intentioned drama laden with some confident performances, notably by the lead actress Shahana Chatterjee who breathes life into that character of Sheila and expresses the confusion, frustration and the liberation with ease. Rajat Sharma does a fine job of a husband torn between traditions and new age ethics. He shines in certain portions and maintains his territory throughout. The supporting cast held their realm well notably Uditvanu Das as Koushik who makes a shallow character alive on the screen, Sheilas brother deserves a special mention for making an impression in the small role he had been given.
The music by Ankur Mukherjee sets a correct mood for the story which is very essential as it determines the impact a story makes on the viewers. Director Shomshukla has voiced the essence of feminity with grace and confidence but the movie is not perfect, it has its share of glitches also. The character of Maya, the illusion, is neatly sketched on paper but the performance on screen by Malvika Jhethwani looks contrived and rehearsed. Her dialogue delivery suffers from the multiple rehearsals she did before the shoot which made the overall impact of some significant scenes like the ‘First rebellion’ a little diluted. The cinematography is not very imaginative and could have been more dynamic and colorful as the story.
Final word, the movie with its share of blemishes is a piece of art that will enthrall the viewers and make them contemplate on some of the invisible burning issues of the male chauvinistic society.
A good Watch.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5PS- The film will be screened at Hollywood’s LA Femme Film Festival (17th-20th October) at the Regal Stadium 14 LA LIVE. Sandcastle’s also been nominated in the Best Foreign Language Feature Film category at the London International Film Festival (LIFF) 2013 and prides itself with four nominations at the Tenerife International Film Festival 2013 in London on October 12, including nods for Best Feature Film, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Cinematography. We thank Ginger Liu for letting us review this wonderful piece of cinema, and we wish the team garners all the deserved success.