In the backdrop of continuous delay in execution of the Nirbhaya case convicts, Priyanka Banerjee's recently dropped short film, Devi, is the need of the hour.
Devi is a film that every woman can relate to, especially those who are survivors of sexual assault.
The 13-minute long film, starring actors like Kajol, Shruti Haasan, Neha Dhupia and Neena Kulkarni, features a single room that houses nine women belonging from completely separate backgrounds. While all the women are different from one another and fight over their differences, they are all stuck in the same abyss. All of them are survivors of rape.
The nine women are stuck in the same purgatory as they have all been sexually assaulted by either a stranger or a family member.
Compelling and hard-hitting, Devi brings to the fore the disturbing levels of crimes against women in the country.
The room houses a calm and composed woman, a deaf-and-mute girl and even an elderly woman - throwing light on the fact that despite all the victim-blaming and shaming in the country, women from all ages, castes, creed, religions and backgrounds continue to suffer the same fate.
The small room depicts the country, which is again too small when compared to the number of rape survivors that it houses.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which published the annual Crime in India Report 2018 on January 8, revealed that witnessing a rise from 3,59,849 in 2017, a total of 3,78,277 cases of crime against women were reported in India in 2018. Uttar Pradesh, which topped the list with 59,445 cases, was followed by Maharashtra (35,497) and West Bengal (30,394).
The director's nuanced portrayal of resilience works on several levels - the ironical title being one of them. The country that worships women as Devi, or Goddess, is the same country that makes these women scared and vulnerable by perpetrating the worst forms of brutality on them.
Throughout the film, the women in the room attack each other on 'who's had it worse', only to unite in the end as a new member walks into their room - a little girl.
Devi is an intriguing must-watch that reminds us that even if our religion, language, class, thoughts, beliefs and ages are widely different, women in India are unsafe and united together in a battle against evil.
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