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Zero Kilometer review: Middling drama about a woman’s condition in a patriarchal society

Release Date: 2021 / 15min

Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Shamas Nawab Siddiqui’s short film plays out like a cautionary tale for women who choose to exercise their will.

The short film Zero Kilometer, starring Tanya Desai and Jaihind Kumar, examines the situation of a poor village woman and her limited options in a patriarchal society. Written and directed by Shamas Nawab Siddiqui, the 15 minute-long film was screened as part of the virtual DC South Asian Film Festival which ends tomorrow.

Kajal, a young woman, is the bread-winner of the house. Working at a briquette furnace, she struggles to feed her family. Her good-for-nothing, lazy husband sleeps all day and does not want to make any effort even when he is offered a job. Meanwhile, the supervisor of the furnace, Jai, has his eye on Kajal, but she does not pay him any heed, that is until he gives her an unusual gift.

When Kajal realizes that her gift has been given by Jai, she warms up to him, eventually getting together with him. However, she realizes that instead of getting the financial security that she had hoped for through him, she becomes trapped in a hopeless situation.

Though Kajal is the protagonist of the film, we do not get much of an insight into her desires and hopes. While her husband is useless, she is not looking to find another partner. Only when Jai makes it known that he bought her a gift does she warm up to him. She wishes to escape her poverty but does not seem to care much about her lover.

Kajal is feisty and mostly independent in the first part but becomes subservient and lifeless in the second, which is at odds with the established character. Eventually, she becomes trapped in a situation of her own making and realizes that she is used by both men, making this a cautionary tale for women who choose to exercise their will.

Tanya Desai and Jaihind Kumar are adequate but one wishes the writing gave their characters more depth.

Zero Kilometer was screened at the DC South Asian Film Festival from 16–30 January 2022.


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