Shweta Tripathi’s Laghushanka is a short film that takes up an uncomfortable subject and aims at creating a better acceptance of the issue in Indian society. But does it succeed in doing so?
Written and directed by Nikhil Mehrotra, the film revolves around Shruti (Shweta) who suffers from bedwetting and is all set to get married. While the family is rejoicing and going overboard with the preparations the way only Indian families can, Shruti wants to share her truth with her soon-to-be-husband. When she shares her plan with her mother, the entire family (not just parents, but all the cousins, aunts, and uncles) gathers in the living room to confront Shruti.
As the relatives share their own reasons why Shruti must go ahead with the marriage without informing anyone in her soon-to-be in-laws’ family, the filmmaker draws our attention to the lack of respect for the individual that we often normalise in our day-to-day lives. The need for truth in a relationship dwarves when compared with someone’s guest list for a function or even another person’s salon charges in preparation for the celebration. Of course, we also get to see the classic “do what I say or I shall die and you lose your parents” threat used on Shruti.
Watch Laghushanka trailer here:
Laghushanka draws attention to how our society overlooks the importance of an individual’s thoughts for their relationship and sacrifices them all at the altar of social security and the comfort of others involved. It also highlights how there is no space for an individual who is perceived as different.
Unfortunately, the film with such a noble aim does not make an impact, especially given how powerful its message is. Laghushanka has all the characters trying hard to sound like the regional Hindi spoken in UP and Bihar but fail miserably with the accent. Except for the final sequence, the entire film seems like a badly-made government social message ad. The final sequence, nonetheless, brings a smile to your face with the kind of simplistic and fantasy-driven solution to the problem being addressed.
Shweta does fine as she underplays her act, emphasising how constant vilification from her own family can turn the character into a reserved individual. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast does not quite grab the opportunity to shine in the space created by Shweta. Kanupriya Pandit, Yogendra Vikram Singh, Narottam Baid, Rita Agarwal, Vijay Kumar Shukla, Bharat Jha, Garima Vikrant, Sapna Basoya, Ravi Chauhan, Aakash Maurya, Ovaish Rashid, Kartikesh Thakur and Vivekanand Jha play the rest of the characters and are, at best, true to the message, even if not the film.
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