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Review Tamil

Cinestaan Curates: B Selvi & Daughters is a heartening tale of self-affirmation and solidarity 

Release Date: 13 Aug 2020

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Directed by Drishya, it was one of four short films created for the Her&Now film campaign to raise awareness about women entrepreneurs in India.

Digital media has opened up several possibilities for small businesses but the older generation, which can be intimidated by technology, is largely hesitant to migrate to the digital realm, missing out on its benefits. The short Tamil film B Selvi & Daughters sees an older woman taking tentative steps to establish and grow her small business.

B Selvi (Kalairani) runs a small saree business. Self-effacing and reserved, she tries to figure out things on her own and applies for a business loan but is clueless about the procedures involved. Her daughter Kavi (Gayathrie), who comes visiting, is a complete contrast to her mother. A working woman, living on her own in Bangalore, she is confident, assertive and speaks her mind. She decides to help her mother with her social marketing skills but Selvi is overwhelmed by the sudden spurt in business and starts to fall apart.

Everyone around her calls her “poor Selvi” and she too has started believing in the narrative of her being a helpless woman who cannot do much. She second-guesses herself, hesitates in taking ownership of her business, falls apart at the prospect of too many orders and is overwhelmed by things. “This is our fate,” she says resignedly, but her daughter puts things in perspective, counsels her and enables her to find solutions.

The film poignantly captures the doubts, fears and trepidation of a woman trying to do something new in her 50s. It also emphasises the aspirations and dreams that Selvi nurtures, wishing to accomplish something on her own, away from the traditional mores that define the sphere of women’s work. As an older woman, her work is seen as a hobby and not taken seriously by the man in the family, who talks down to her, only to bite his tongue later. Be it the daughter who encourages her mother, or the women who help her run her enterprise, B Selvi & Daughters foregrounds the strength of sisterhood and solidarity amongst women.

The music complements the portrayal of the mother and daughter and the realistic performances of Kalairani and Gayathrie breathe life into the characters, accentuating their bond.

Directed by Drishya, B Selvi & Daughters was one of four short films created for the Her&Now film campaign to raise awareness about women entrepreneurs in India.

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