The irony is that people in this country only respect women when they appear in the form of stone statues in temples. Devi is a short film that plays on this irony to depict brutality towards women in India. The film is written and directed by Priyanka Banerjee and produced by Electric Apples Entertainment. It is a YouTube short uploaded to the Royal Stag Barrel Select LargeShortFilms channel.
There is a room where women from different backgrounds, of different ages, and of different personalities stay together. Despite occupying the same room, they seem to be living in their own worlds; they carry out their different tasks regardless of each other. The room is almost chaotic as there are old women chatting loudly, a young girl struggles with the television remote, another girl is studying, a woman is praying and more.
The news on television goes static, and all their activities come to a halt when a loud beep is heard, shrouding the room in an uneasy silence for a few seconds. A ring goes off, ensuing an argument among the occupants. This argument unravels the anger, agony, and bitterness of these women, who are so different from each other but have one thing in common – they are all victims of the same crime.
Kajol delivers a strong performance in her digital debut; her character is a picture of calmness on screen but her dialogues are the most impactful.
Neena Kulkarni stays true to her character and does come out to be a mean old-woman with a sharp tongue. Other actors, including Neha Dhupia and Shruti Hassan, also play their part well.
Banerjee’s direction is praise worthy. She aptly times the silences, the sounds, and other such elements to unfold the narrative and to give a voice to the unspoken experiences of women.
One of the great things about Devi is that it creates a women-centric world where the experiences of rape are viewed from the eyes of the victims. It shows that women from all classes, positions, and backgrounds are subjected to this crime, sometimes even in the safety of their homes, which somewhat helps in shifting the burden of the crime from the victim to the perpetrator.
It also deconstructs the notion of some cases being more painful than others; the degree of an individual’s pain cannot be measured and ranked. It sends out the message that trauma is not always caused by physical violence, it can be psychological as well.
In the film, the room becomes a haven for these women who have been through similar things but it fails to find a space for solidarity. Despite it being a female space, the women do not support and sympathise with each other.
Some of them even negate the experiences of others. It, in a way, reiterates the sentiment that always views women as adversaries who can never be companions.
The short film does a great job at narrating the bone-chilling experiences of these victims without involving any visuals and has the power of moving the viewers to tears. It gives a different perspective on several cases we see in the news everyday. It is a must-watch film as it deals with an important issue.
Watch Devi here: