SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU HAVENT WATCHED IT, GO WATCH AS THE REVIEW GIVES THE FULL STORY AS WELL
After repeated requests from a schoolmate, प्रीतेश गुप्ता, I watched this short film by Anurag Kashyap, That Day After Everyday. He would tell me that he wanted to discuss about it (I, being his senior in school) and that there are criticisms on it. I thought let’s see it and see what is there to be criticized about this work.
Simple YouTube search and the first link is the film in HD. I watched it from title to cast and crew name scrolling upwards. There were a lot of people involved in making of this 21-minute long short film. Believe me, a lot of them from pre to post production phase. Now, why am I talking about this cast and crew stuff?
If you have ever made a film, even a two-minute long one for you college project, you would know how much time goes in to thinking and execution. From the name to the final editing and release, there is a lot that goes through it. So if you dismiss a film, just take care of that and provide logic for the dismissal. Don’t be the lame person saying, “Aah… that was THE worst movie I ever saw…” and that’s all.
Anyway, let’s start with the story. The plot is: Amid daily rape cases, a group of three ladies bothered by a group of men daily decide to take on them one day and they succeed. That’s all it is. The plot is the story. It doesn’t need more description.
When we make movies, especially the ones with social message, with real issues we ought to keep our bag of technical brilliance of analyzing films and looking for the aesthetics and camera angles on the back seat or even in the attic of the house when you drive out to run them over.
There are two ways to look at any art form, considering literature, paintings, and photographs in the same set, the intention and the execution. Generally, we go for a mixture or balance of both when we talk of commercial cinema. We weigh in more on the aesthetics in execution when we analyse a film which is considered an art film or parallel cinema.
And then, we have these unnoticed, small or say no-budget films, which intend to earn nothing but to reach out to people and have some of the ideas which are universally accepted. They are somewhere close to the reality. They represent the society as it is. Or, they represent the society with a mixture of as it is and as they wish it should be.
These films should be judged more on the basis of their intention. It happens that, in order show our (pseudo) intellect, we come down quite heavily on some works of art. When the director wants to show you the reality, the content has to be the prime thing and not the way camera zoom-in with dolly out! When it is about denouncing a culture of rape and presenting something that happens inside our houses, with our own young brothers, uncles, fathers, friends doing it, you mustn’t be concerned about the background sound of it.
Coming to the film, the title That Day After Everyday is about the present as well the hope that it carries. It means the day after everyday is just everyday. And in the end, it tells you that no, the day after everyday doesn’t have to be the same everyday. It can change if you wish it to change.
The title is flawlessly poetic summing up the current situation from India to New Zealand where a counsel asks the victim to close her legs to avoid her rape and if she didn’t that meant she enjoyed being raped. And then our Indian version of such morons blames it on Chowmin, short clothes, make up and everything on earth but the sick mindset of a certain percentage of us.
The film starts with a few dialogues from the husband of one of the three girls and ends with his dialogues only. Husband reads stories from newspaper about various rape cases reported in the newspaper and in doing so suggests her to not to look at those boys who harass her every single day, twice. And that she must take a work-from-home job as many others do.
Her careless listening and word-less expressions tell you that she is your every single girl that wants to do something and has to listen to these words that make women a card board cut out in the society. You are born to give birth and prepare tea for your husband.
She feels helpless and yet she has to walk out of the room. She has to go and work. She has to have a life for whatever it is worth. The filmmaker brings out this stereotype quite brilliantly by showing another lady being advised in similar tone by her mother. And then there is this third girl who goes with them on their way to their respective offices.
The film shows very real situations in three sequences. The three girls are filmed by two teenagers and don’t stop even after they are warned. Then there is a group of men waiting for her at a dhobi shop who hits one of them with a slingshot. She tries to resist with all her disgust building up inside her for so many days. But they overpower her, circle her and try to molest in the name of asking where did it hit!
That struggle is the struggle of every single girl in our society. It defies age, class, stature and notions of beauty. It is just this gender which gets molested, commented upon, gazed and groped inside running buses, raped inside moving cars and inside our homes by our own uncles, brothers and even fathers. Where will she go…
We have conditioned generations of women by saying them they were inferior physically and, in the process, we made them feel inferior mentally as well. Underestimating every achievement, colouring her walls pink and bringing them chocolate cakes, we made them look silly to make ourselves look better. And then, we say, “ Aah… that’s so girly…”
She somehow runs away. That is a symbolic run on behalf of every sister, daughter, friend, mother, wife or any female we have among us. She has to run because five people molest her everyday and tens of us watch it happen thinking it is not my wife. And even her husband would blame her that she must be doing something to provoke them.
And this gender board a bus. In the bus, a boy hits her four times from behind. Annoyed, she hits him hard in the crotch. And we all feel a certain sense of relief. Message is, hit it on the spot. If you keep getting hit, you will keep getting hit… No one is interested what is happening. This is a dead society, if it is a society in any sense of it.
Office is another place where colleagues keep making videos and converse in the lewd ways. She is all aware of it. She know that the guy who has come to look for the file in the cabinet has something else in his mind. It is to go near her, touch her in anyway.
The film, in the simplest way, brings out the daily saga, the routine affair inside every closed place and outside them. There is nothing romantic about it. There is no exaggeration in presentation. There is no brilliant shot from that particular angle to enhance the tone of the sequence. Because there is no need of it. Let the content do the talk.
When the three friends meet, she breaks down. She cries over herself but gathers her wits and talks to her friends as they all realize this is a daily thing and they know they are working on a solution. She is delighted to know that her friend hit that guy in crotch. That’s a small smile on the face of the gender.
Then, they all come out of a self defence class where her teacher accompanies her and offers to drop them on her way. She asks her the question that when would they be ready.
The mentor replies, in a philosophic way as any mentor or teacher does, that it was their selfbelief and mental strength to wipe out that fear and take on their enemies. Once they believe that there is no fear inside and that they will have to resist, they will all be ready.
And there are these men waiting with their drunken selves to triumph over the gender again. They wait, as they have waited all the eternity and till now for the gender to pass and allow them to grope, molest and rape. Men wait, women enter with an assurance from the mentor who is standing close by.
The story unfolds. Men circle them all and try to be funny as they always do with an arrogant face and that wretched smile challenging them to pass their ‘area’ and go through the gate to the society. Stage is set. Public is in the balcony as always expecting the same hapless scene to be enacted, in silence.
But no, they take out metal rings wearing them on their hands and take on the men. Appalled and unsuspecting manhood is shocked. Female gender struggles and men attack and defend. The ‘society’ wakes up but it just wakes up physically as it always does. It watches in silence, as it always does. And the part of this society is the husband as well. He is also watching, and just watching.
Eventually, the girls take the men down. There is a sense of anger as well as fulfillment in their eyes as they know at least one obstacle is gone forever.
The film ends with the husband preparing tea and boasting about how good she did and that he himself wanted to do ‘something’ as he was thinking about doing ‘that’. She is all silent as she always have been. She knows what he means.
The words have changed but they are as meaningless as they were in the opening lines. There is a sense of defeat in his dialogues which the gender knows. Because the gender has heard these meaningless words for generations.
The film doesn’t have any hidden meaning. The message is apparent. No one is too powerful and no one is too weak. We have to take a stand because no one else will. Our friends run away, the husbands/brothers/fathers/uncles all drag our self-belief down. We are all to our own.
The fight is against that two dimensional thought process which doesn’t have any depth. The society is too timid to take a stand. All it can do is is to walk to India Gate. It can feel for you, but not too long. And anyway feelings haven’t brought any solutions, ever. Action did.
The film is not a masterpiece as it never intends to be. The film is a portrayal of what it is and what it should be and what it can be. The ‘should be’ part is silent inside the faces of the three girls. This film is not for cinematic evaluation. This film is about hope that society should change for better. It conveys the message in a good way.
That good way needn’t be about a girl getting down from a BMW and being molested inside the subway and on her way back she kills them with gun. Neither it has to be about the slum girl who is a devotee of Durga and one fine day she dreams Maa Durga telling her to fight and she fights them.
No… This is not about this girl, that girl. This film is about a possible hope. This is about standing up for yourself as no other person would. This is about awakening that belief inside us which is forced to freeze in the most seclude area inside us. It is about hope and selfbelief of a gender.