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Review Marathi

Snakes And Ladders review: Agonizing film about power and its subjects

Release Date: 02 Dec 2020 / 30min


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Sukhpreet Kahlon

The Marathi short film is being screened virtually as part of the Bengaluru International Short Film Festival 2020.

Mayura Dolas's Marathi-language short fiction film Saapshidi (Snakes And Ladders) traces the fate of a family that changes overnight.

Rajesh (Prathamesh Joshi) is an overbearing man who keeps his family under his thumb. Every little action of his wife Anita (Ketaki Saraf) and children Sameer (Kaivalya Mulay) and Amruta (Pranjali Shrikant) is monitored and controlled and they are allowed very little access to the world outside.

Living in this unnatural situation, the children are petrified of the father who does not allow them to go out and play, to watch TV, or even to make a phone call. In one instance, a small mistake makes the father forbid the children from going to school altogether. Any break in the created structure is severely punished. As the older of the siblings, Amruta has internalized the rules.

Dolas has authentically created the claustrophobic environment of the home, where the family members are imprisoned within the four walls. The incidents of domestic abuse and indoctrination of the girl child are chillingly captured. In stark contrast, the children come alive at their grandmother’s home where they can be themselves.

The film's title refers to the game of chance, where one can ascend quickly and emerge victorious or be sabotaged at every turn and defeated. The metaphor is employed for the psyche of the girl, who is so scarred by her father that she envisions a harsh reprimand at every turn. And so, she keeps her head down and tries to follow the rules.

The film is a bit long and tedious in parts, but what makes it work are the performances that lend it a certain authenticity. Pranjali Shrikant is exceptional as her eyes convey her abject fear, uncertainty and conflict at the altered circumstances.

Snakes And Ladders ably captures the deeply unsettling effects of machismo in our patriarchal society and its devastating impact on the psyche of a child.

The film won awards for Best Child Actor and Best Screenplay at the Kolkata Short International Film Festival and is currently being screened virtually in the Indian Competition section at the Bengaluru International Short Film Festival 2020. Click here to watch Snakes And Ladders.

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