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Ghar Ki Murgi review: Places the drudgery of household work in sharp relief

Release Date: 24 Oct 2020

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Starting Cinestaan Curates, where we recommend short films and documentaries for the keen viewer. This week, Sakshi Tanwar shines in Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's short film about the unpaid, invisible labour of homemakers.

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s short film Ghar Ki Murgi explores what a regular day in the lives of most Indian women looks like, where they perform countless tasks everyday and get taken for granted.

Seema (Sakshi Tanwar) is a homemaker who also runs a salon. From early morning to late at night, she is busy catering to every demand of her children, husband and in-laws, fulfilling the roles of ideal wife, mother and daughter-in-law. One day, tired of it all, she decides to take a break from her daily routine. This creates quite a stir within the family as the members struggle to even understand what it is that she needs a break for!

Much has been written about the invisible labour of homemakers, who, despite working outside the home, are expected to be in charge of the needs of their family. Ghar Ki Murgi brings that labour into sharp focus as the film addresses societal expectations from a woman and the ways in which homemakers are taken for granted. It is interesting that the film does not give us a woman who is a homemaker alone, as Seema is also a working woman who runs a parlour, but, predictably, the husband does not quite think that’s real work.

At one point, Seema observes pointedly that the pressure cooker at least has the ability to let off steam, unlike her. She does not even have an outlet for expression as she crumbles silently under her Sisyphean tasks. However, Seema’s desire for a break stops short of being a radical one as the film pulls back at the end to opt for a more realistic ending. But the point is made.

The film is fairly predictable in the point that it is making, but the thing that makes it stand out is Tanwar’s performance. As the bahu in a Punjabi household, she has got the accent and the simmering aggression down pat. It is also a welcome break from the subdued characters that she generally portrays. The film is held together by her performance.

I love the scene where there is utter panic at the thought that the real head of the household will not be around to do the chores and the father, in a bid to step up, decides to drop the children to the bus stop. Only, he does not know where it is!

Several recent short films have explored the ways in which a woman is relegated to the home and the kitchen as the family continues with its life, blissfully unaware of her slaving away. Neeraj Ghaywan’s Juice and Tahira Kashyap’s Pinni in the anthology Zindagi In Short (2020) are some examples.

Although Ghar Ki Murgi was premiered on Sony LIV on Women’s Day (8 March), all of us under lockdown can doubly appreciate the immense value of countless women who make life so much easier for the rest. Watch the short film here.

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