Review Tamil

Kanya review: A visually stunning coming-of-age drama

Release Date: 29 Oct 2020 / 15min


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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Apoorva Satish’s graduation film captures the reality of growing up in a traditional society.

A coming-of-age drama, Apoorva Satish’s short Tamil-language film Kanya is about an adolescent girl whose worldview shifts when she attains puberty and gets her first period. The evocative film captures the reality of growing up in a patriarchal society and the ways in which gender roles are reinforced.

Kanya Sridhar (Tarunya Satish) is a champion swimmer on her way to competing on the national level. She plays cricket with the boys and has a largely carefree existence until she gets her first period. As her family gets ready for an elaborate rite of passage, Kanya can only think about the championship that she is missing. She is constantly told that she is lucky to be born as a woman and the ceremony is to celebrate her entry into womanhood. But all she sees are the boundaries that begin to helm her in.

Apoorva juxtaposes the elaborate rituals that surround the birth of a girl child and her initiation into womanhood with the restrictions that patriarchy places on young women. She tracks the ways in which gender stereotypes get imposed and reinforced as not only does Kanya have to forsake the swimming competition, but any attempt at questioning the decision is firmly quashed. 

Tarunya vividly captures her protagonist’s state of mind, her focus as a swimmer and her inability to understand the ways in which changes in her body equate to the changes around her. In the end, Kanya makes her choice, doing things her way and reasserting herself in the only way that she can.

With stunning cinematography by Faraz Alam, Satish transforms water into a sensorial space, at once evoking the womb and a safe space for Kanya to retreat into when the world outside of it is confusing. The film is rich with symbolism, gesturing towards the changes in Kanya’s body and imbuing it with a lyrical beauty.

Kanya was Apoorva’s graduation film at the FAMU film school, Prague. it was premiered in the Wide Angle: Asian short film competition section at the Busan International Film Festival 2020. The short was screened as part of the Auroville Film Festival 2022.

 

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