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Review Gujarati

Anita review: Shattering the construct of the independent, progressive NRI couple

Release Date: 22 Feb 2021 / 18min


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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Sushma Khadepaun’s short film deals with gender, patriarchy, women’s empowerment, marital rape and the misguided idea that by leaving one's country, one can escape its prejudices.

Sushma Khadepaun’s short film Anita made history after becoming the first Gujarati film to be premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival 2020.

The film revolves around Anita (Aditi Vasudev) and her husband Vikram (Mitra Gadhavi), an NRI couple who come home to India to attend her sister's wedding. She enjoys the attention showered upon her, shrugging off questions about any ‘good news' from her relatives. She has a different kind of ‘good news’, not the conventional, normative one. She has got a summer internship and plans to take it up, making this a decisive first step towards getting a job. 

However, anticipating the reaction of her conservative parents, she coaches Vikram to broach the subject with them, making it seem like he is completely on board. Her sister tells her that she is lucky that her husband allows her to work and she wholeheartedly agrees. But Vikram crumbles in the face of the parents’ enquiries, and as his open-minded, liberal façade begins to crack, she realises the uncomfortable truth about the man she has married.

Khadepaun’s immaculately crafted film interweaves concerns about gender, patriarchy, women’s empowerment, marital rape and the misguided idea that by leaving one’s country behind, one escapes its prejudices. Through her exploration of a pivotal moment in the couple's lives, she lays bare women’s struggle for economic independence and reveals the reality behind the construct of the independent and progressive NRI couple.   

Aditi’s performance splendidly captures Anita’s transition from feeling like the cat that got the cream to a veritable caged bird who can feel her world coming crashing down. 

Anita is being screened as part of the ongoing Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

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