Sunday, July 5, 2020

Movie with Abe: Widow of Silence

Widow of Silence
Directed by Praveen Morchhale
Released July 10, 2020 (Laemmle's Virtual Cinema)

Historically, women have almost never been afforded the same rights as men. Being granted the ability to vote and expecting to be paid the same as their male counterparts are momentous achievements that should not have required any sort of fight. The inequality that exists in countries like the United States seems small when compared with others who prescribe little to no rights to women, or base them entirely on their relationships to men, typically a husband or a father. In almost all such cases, it is men who are empowered with deciding what women can and cannot do, leading to unchecked corruption and horrific oppression.

Aasia (Shilpi Marwaha) spends each day riding in a small taxi to wait to speak to a representative of the government (Ajay Chourey) who may be able to help her. In the decades-long conflict in Kashmir, a region claimed by both India and Pakistan, Aasia’s husband disappeared, and has not been seen for seven years. Known as a half-widow since his death cannot be confirmed, Aasia needs to officially have him declared dead so that she can become the lawful owner of her own land and ensure that it passes to her eleven-year-old daughter Inaya (Noorjahan Mohmmad Younus).

Introduced as “based on many true stories,” this film exposes a disturbing reality that has shaped the existence of women in Kashmir and in other places. After a lengthy ride each day made even longer by repeated unnecessary stops at checkpoints along the way, Aasia is to be told by the registrar that she has played a role in her own fate and that, to help her, he would need to go above and beyond and would require something from her in return. Her situation is untenable but she is powerless to do anything about it, and even incurs blame for troubling others by daring to think that she might be entitled to her own autonomy.

This film offers a stark presentation of its content, panning from Aasia sitting next to the driver to the winding road that she travels all too often and including no cinematic frills to emphasize any of the film’s themes of injustice. Its story and performances are strong enough to convey it, using these characters to bring attention to an all-too-common situation experienced by many around the world that no person with the true power to change it would ever accept. Aasia’s persistence in the face of certain failure is inspiring and affirming, and this film’s straightforward style serves well to underscore its importance.


No comments: