When a lack of identity and a sense of dependency on others becomes the norm, freedom can scare you.
There is something very anticipatory and hopeful in our protagonist’s eyes which makes you sympathize with her situation (which you aren’t aware of yet) from the get go. The lack of an independent identity from her husband is established in the first scene, when the abortion form requires her husband’s signature (and consent), but not her’s.
This scene, which is shot through the window screen (or jaali) makes her sense of exhaustion and desperation very apparent.
The film provides you with an appropriate amount of visual symbolisms sprinkled throughout to make up for the lack of dialogues from the part of the protagonist.
There’s one where the kitchen ceiling is literally at a one-palm distance from her head, thus, reflecting the suffocation within and around her.
However, my favourite was the one in which she stands near an opening in the corridor of her flat. Shot from an extreme low angle, the opposite walls of the building seem to uncomfortably close in and sandwich her, with only a small opening at the top for minimal light to seep through. Seldom do we come across such accurate visual representations of the famous idiom – ‘walls closing in’.
However, there were some other scenes (and characters) whose intention and messaging seemed vague.
Like there was the actor dressed as Ram who creepily wished her “Happy Dussehra”. Apart from (unnecessary) comic relief, the random presence of the character could, from a long shot, only signify that Kalyug has set in and the world has become apathetic.
There was also the partially (and forcefully) westernised teenager who helped her search for flats. A possible explanation for its placement could be to signify the educational limitation of our protagonist.
A random detail that cracked me up in the cyber cafe scene was the ‘NO PORN’ poster as it was screaming to me like a ‘NO SMOKING’ instruction on the wall!
The anguish of constant rejections by brokers and the unsolicited visits by prospective tenants who could kick her out were enhanced multi-fold by the gradual progression of the prompt and breathless editing.
When left alone, she comes back to her husband’s place. However, the fear of her husband is so predominant, that when he uses the electric racquet to kill mosquitoes, she crawls her toes under the shade of her saree. An impulsive action that even she might not be conscious of.
When she locks him up in his house and runs away, you can still see the fear of the unknown in her eyes. The thumping music that emanated from her surroundings acted as the appropriate transition from her initial passive form of dissent to the adoption of a ‘counterfeited’ route to find a house, and claim a fresh sense of belonging.
In desperation to claim this new identity, she hastily washes away the sindoor. As she watches it go down the drain, the apparent redness of the same gives it the imagery of blood, and of sacrifice that this battle demanded from her. (Sacrifice of the life she aborted maybe?)
The walls of her new home aren’t closing in on her, the ceiling is high and she celebrates this, not by throwing a housewarming party, but by substituting it with pleasuring herself. Which, to be honest, felt more like a ‘pat on the back’!
Her ‘celebration’ of this victory (and her femininity) is shot from a distance, thus, detaching us unlike the usual close ups used all throughout.
But the ear-pricking bell, which has been a recurring motif throughout, announces itself again like a prophecy. Like a reminder that she will never be alone, isolated and happy.