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Lockdown short Kajol Mashi speaks up for migrant workers

Conceptualised by Nandita Roy, the film sees Kheyali Dastidar in the role of a domestic help whose son is a migrant worker stranded in Mumbai.

Roushni Sarkar

Windows Production House’s Lockdown Shorts series has seen films exploring pertinent issues that have risen due to the lockdown. Kajol Mashi, conceptualised by Roy, is the latest in the series. Featuring Kheyali Dasditar and Aditya Sengupta, it makes an appeal on behalf of the migrant workers, who have been stranded across the country without food or money, due to the lockdown. 

In the film, Dasditar plays Kajol Mashi, a domestic help, working for Sengupta, who she calls Chhorda. While Kajol is taking care of all his needs, cooking and cleaning for him, her Chhorda seems to be relishing the quarantine period, lazing away at home playing video games. 

Kajol Mashi is worried as her son works as a migrant worker in Mumbai and doesn’t have enough money to take care of himself. She panics when she hears the news on TV that Dharavi has the maximum number of COVID-19 cases, since her son lives there.  

She tries to talk to Chhorda about her concern for her son, but he seems disinterested. He comes across as a privileged man, with little concern or compassion for the needs of others. He only wants Kajol Mashi to be at his beck and call and pamper him. 

Finally, Kajol Mashi confesses that she cannot muster strength to even eat her food as she is not sure if her son has food to eat or not in Mumbai. She gets scared when she sees the news about thousands of migrant workers gathered at a railway station, being beaten up by the police.

Here, Chhorda’s social and economic status is in complete contrast with that of Kajol’s son. However, in the end, the film attempts to state that people who are better placed in society can help those who have been marginalised, like Kajol's son.  

Like all of Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee’s films, this film also ends on a note of hope. Though Chhorda’s gesture of feeding Kajol and then seeking her blessings by touching her feet seems over the top, the film successfully conveys the message of cultivating sensitivity towards the migrant workers stranded across the country.

Dastidar carries the film on her shoulders with her dramatic act, while Sengupta’s expressions lack depth.

Since the film has a mass appeal, it might be helpful in making many viewers aware of the plight of the hard-working underprivileged people of India. It is high time one raises a voice for them, especially as many of them have lost their lives due to hunger and fatigue, while making their way home. 

Watch the film.

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