With the recent release of “Parched”, the multi-lingual actress Radhika Apte once again has emerged as a unique actress in the Indian film industry today, who is willing to make bold film choices over more commercial concerns. Apte has also starred in a number of short films, some of which I have shared below, and each are of interest for different reasons.
This is a (subtitled) Bengali short film, directed by Sujoy Ghosh, and the only film directed by Ghosh since 2012’s Kahaani. Perhaps it gives us hints of what we can expect from next month’s Kahaani 2?
Radhika plays the eponymous Ahalya, a young wife of an older man, an artist, and she invites a police inspector asking after a missing man into her and her husband’s home.
Watch the film below:
This is a 2016 released Hindi-language short film, a thriller directed by Shirish Kunder. A viral hit, it has already had more than 10 million views.
Radhika plays psychiatrist Dr Kalpana, who seeks proof of the existence of a new girlfriend (named “Kriti”) of her childhood friend and patient, as years ago he had a similar imaginary friend.
That Day After Everyday
Directed by Anurag Kashyap (Gangs of Wasseypur, Dev.D, Bombay Velvet)
One of the most women-centric of the short films, it revolves around the social ill of “eve-teasing” (sexual harassment).
As you can see from the video above, the film opens with Radhika’s character Rekha being berated for taking her time preparing tea in the kitchen. The male voice coming from the living room is also reading aloud about a bizarre (but perhaps also unfortunately unsurprising) news item that is blaming rape on the after effects of eating Chinese food. He warns her to avoid areas where chow mein is being sold to young men as a result.
He says, placing the responsibility on to her rather than on the misbehaving men: “[b]e careful about them. Do not interact with them or try to make them angry. If they tease you just lower your head and walk away”.
“It is best for women to be quiet for their own good” he continues. In fact, Rekha does not speak a single word during this entire sequence, but her silence speaks mountains.
“Why do you need to go to work?” he questions further, positing either abstaining from work, working from home due to concern around her safety as a woman and protection from gender-based violence and abuse being rather responded to by restricting her movements and freedom in general, rather than dealing with the attitudes of eve-teasers and abusers, or punishing their behaviours.
We later see Rekha and her friends preparing to be eve teased, followed by a confrontation and attempted assault by the group of harassing men after she speaks out after being hit by a stone.
Radhika convincingly shows even in this short film both strength and vulnerability in Rekha’s response to such abuse. We see her anger and her pain in equal measure. A short scene where Rekha tears up is followed by a moment of laughter as Rekha bonds with her two friends based on their shared experiences of dealing with eve teasing.
They are also shown to be attending self-defence classes – taking control of what they are able to in the situation. Even returning home from this class safely however is challenging, as it finishes at night and the walk back involves passing through where the group of harassing young men are. Rekha and her friends’ scrappy-ness and gutsy attitudes in the face of this threat are to be put to the test. This whole section reminded me a little of Anushka Sharma’s NH10 – a film I will undoubtedly cover in a separate post soon.
The very last (short) scene is particularly interesting and amusing.
A very short and almost entirely English-language piece that is also explicitly about women’s empowerment, it shows Radhika as Shya as an architect and expectant mother, dealing with discrimination at work (notably by a female superior) due to the fact she is pregnant. It has an uplifting if perhaps unrealistic conclusion.