30 Nov 2018  |   04:28am IST

Two oppressed sisters and a tale of class and co-dependency

As part of a three-day indie film festival being held at Museum of Goa, ‘The Housemaids’, a film on class and co-dependent relationships, is being screened today
Two oppressed sisters and a tale of class and co-dependency

Zoya Rebelo

Museum of Goa in collaboration with indie cinema

community Aabobo, is hosting a three-day indie film festival from today, November 30 to December 2, 2018.

Founded by Devashish Makhija, director of films like ‘Ajji’ (2017) and ‘Bhosle’ (2018), Aabobo is a community of people with the same artistic inclination and love for indie cinema that supports independent cinema practitioners.

One of the films that will be showcased at the festival is titled ’The Housemaids’. The debut film of director Asawari Jagushte with screenplay by Nihaarika Nagi tells a subver­sive tale about class and co-dependent relationships under domestication. The movie was inspired by Jean Genet’s play ’The Maids’. The movie revolves around the mind space of two sisters and their journey through their oppressed captivity together, where they spend their time enacting a freedom that they never feel. “Jean Genet, one of the most notorious outlaw-artistes of the post war avant-garde theatre, often wrote about people on the fringes of society, he wrote about outcasts and those made to feel ‘other’ by society. The play was inspired by the true story of the Papin Sisters in 1930s, France. I wasparticularlycuriousaboutthemakingofsuc hwomen,theirdesiresandwants. When Ireadthe screenplay by Nihaarika, what struck me most were the boundaries of a maid with her Madame, the relationship between the two maids and the relationship that lies between them and their Madame, says Asawari.

The idea of such a film was to give voice to the desires and wants of those deemed as outcasts by a society steeped in class-distinction.

Asawari has always been inquisitive about the notions of privilege and skin colour that are rooted deep into Indian society. She aimed at digging into the inner world of those who belong to the lower class through the eyes of two woman that only have each other in their oppressed captivity. She explains: “With Verena and Cecilia as the housemaids, I wanted to peel the inner world of two such women – who only have each other. So I created a space where thesecharacterscouldbreathe ,thriveandleadlivesoftheirownmaking.Inthedocumentary ‘Grey­Gardens’, the


lmmakers represented ‘bigEdie’and ‘littleEdie­’byacceptingthem,similarlyIcreatedaspacewherethetwohouse maidscouldliveand speak. While Verena and Cecilia’s behaviour is driven by their past, we chose to hide the backstory from the audience. We wanted the story to act as a bit of a Rorschach test, encouraging audience to imprint their own emotions onto the two characters.”

Fundamentally, the film is about companionship and womanhood, told through a female perspective. “The charactersweredevelopedincollaboration withthetwoactor­sKirtanaKumarandNihaarikaNegibyhavingintensivetrainings, rehearsals and conference calls that discovered a 30-year-old relationship between the maids. We wanted to create a world that blurs the lines between illusion and reality, the maids cherishing their new dream in to the world of the unknown,” reveals Asawari.

The 23-minute film looks beyond traditional rep­resentation and seeks to examine the inner lives of those less thought of so that it might hold up a mirror to society. With a feeling that is ancient, the treat­ment of the film is contemporary. “I hope we have managed to create aworldthatlooks throughthelensof theoppressed,inalanguage thatis personal to us. And I hopethe film raises the same emotions that we felt while making it,”the director states.

A panel discussion will be held on the first and second day of the festival, wherein the director of the film, Asawari Jagushte, will also be a part of the panel.


Iddhar Udhar