New Delhi, 22 Jul 2020 8:30 IST
The short film starring Annup Sonii and Divya Dutta has its heart in the right place but fails to convey the complex range of issues that victims of domestic abuse face.
While the lockdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to deal with being cooped up in their homes for weeks and even months, the situation has only worsened the plight of victims of domestic violence as they have been caught in the vice-like grip of their abusers, often without any recourse.
Starring Divya Dutta, Annup Sonii and Anupam Kher, the short film The Relationship Manager is directed by Falguni Thakore and addresses this very issue of domestic violence by delving into the mindset of the victims and those wishing to help them during the lockdown.
Bank employee Vinay (Sonii) is the relationship manager for his clients and starts calling them regarding their financial investments. On one such call, he suspects that his client is beating his wife (Divya Dutta). While he is not quite certain, he cannot let it go without finding out for sure either way, and so he calls the client’s wife to figure out if he she is okay.
The film highlights the choices that victims of domestic violence have, even in a situation like the current lockdown. Though Vinay is acutely aware of his position, he goes through the gamut of concerns which prevent women from speaking out and examines the ways in which abuse even gets accepted over time, as he encourages his client's wife to exercise her rights.
The short film conveys the helplessness to some extent of people who cannot physically reach out to others to support them but also stresses the importance of speaking to those who may be troubled and being there for them emotionally and mentally.
However, the film offers an easy resolution at the end, which is quite unbelievable and, frankly, a little insensitive as well, as these Band-Aid solutions do not reflect the complexity and hindrances in the way of taking a step in the right direction in real life.
There is also the problematic portrayal of gender as the male client (Kher) is shown to be completely focused on his finances and investments, but a woman client is a ditzy actress (Sana Khan) who is only focused on raking up followers on social media and the lack of a manicure, while asking her relationship manager to take care of her financial decisions!
The film has its heart in the right place and the performances by Dutta and Sonii stand out, but one wishes the filmmaker had thought a bit more in depth about gender than just the issue being highlighted.
The Relationship Manager was released on YouTube last week. Watch the film below.
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