Period.End Of Sentence Movie Review: It Is Not The Pathbreaker It Strives To Be

Period  End  Of Sentence

A Short  Film Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi

Rating: ***

So we  have finally  won an Oscar. This  short film with a  big heart about a  village 90 miles  away from Delhi,  describes the efforts  of the local women to  educate, instill and install  an awareness and  accessibility to sanitary-pads .

The  villagers  of  Hapur are filmed in  clusters  of  bewildered oblivion.This is the way the Western gaze invariably falls on rural India. They prefer  to look at us not  as  a nation on the go, but country waiting to grow… underdeveloped  , ignorant, clueless, reluctant to  change…This  film  asks a bunch of teenaged  boys about menstruation and  pads. And they  provide  the  enlightened  Westerners a  chance to giggle.When asked if they know what “period” is  , the boys give answers that range from strange to  deranged. Clearly they  have no mother  or sister at home.

The film, though well-intended, seems to be in a  hurry to make  its  point. It moves from  one point of view to another , from one village commune to the next,  without letting the  pebbles in the stream settle down  at  the bottom. A bright  enterprising  girl named Sneha   in the village  who wants  to become a police officer(“So I can resist marriage”) does emerge at the centre of the flustered narrative as she  goes from door-to-door with a friend selling the idea of sanitary pads to  reluctant women(“I am  pregnant”) to actually the item itself.

I wish  the  film had focused  on  Sneha and her struggles  instead of scampering in  various  directions to squeeze  in  the maximum  viewpoint  in  the  28-minute narrative.

The  film’s  makers are  rightly proud  of the fact that their film captures  rural India’s efforts to empower women with sanitary pads  and menstrual knowledge. But  this  is  certainly not  a  taboo subject, not in  society  at  large, not in our films. R Balki’s feature film Padman last year told  the  story of menstrual awareness  with warm  and  candour.

And  in  the short-film space  do check out the Marathi film Arrey Baba where a  motherless girl gets into a dialogue about her  first period with her empathetic father.

Yes, we  do have a long way to go  in empowering rural women. But we don’t need to look at  the non-city  belt as  a region  of  amusing  innocence.

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