Review Hindi

Cinestaan Curates: Happy Birthday Mummyji is about finding some breathing space in a stifling life

Release Date: 23 Jul 2021

Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

The film has been written and directed by popular actress Shefali Shah who also plays the only character in it.

Way too many times we see women sacrificing their desires and dreams at the altar of their husbands, family members, children, and so on. Shefali Shah’s short film, Happy Birthday Mummyji, explores the freedom that a woman feels when she finds herself unexpectedly alone.

Suchi (Shah) is an ideal wife and daughter-in-law, frantically running around to arrange the best possible birthday bash for her mother-in-law. However, as she is putting the finishing touches, the pandemic-induced lockdown is announced and the party is cancelled. Suchi finds herself all alone in the house, but what she thinks of as a curse turns out to be a blessing in disguise.

Too often, women, especially in India, are defined by their relationships and confined by them. Happy Birthday Mummyji is an attempt to not just recognize this but to also break out of it. We see Suchi being criticized by her husband and mother-in-law despite doing everything to make their lives comfortable. The husband sees everything as a problem, is irritable, impatient and just plain annoying.

Written and directed by Shah, the short film offers glimpses into Suchi's situation and mind — her unhooking her bra, lying in the pool without a care, the obviously strained relationship with the mother-in-law where everything amazing is attributed to the son and everything askew is the daughter-in-law's fault. Her mother-in-law tells her to eat tinda (gourd) as Suchi takes a bite of a sumptuous cake, rolling her eyes at the suggestion. The idea of being free and oneself extends to Suchi indulging in a fancy meal, playing marbles and even being a slob, things one cannot imagine her husband would approve of.

Although the sentiment is relatable, the setting feels staged and a bit over the top. The music also needed a lighter touch, tending to be overpowering at times. Shah as the sole performer captures her situation beautifully and, in the end, we know that although things may not have changed in any significant way, Suchi gets a much-needed reprieve, a big gulp of air, which enables her to just be.

Happy Birthday Mummyji was released on 23 July on YouTube. 


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