Reviewer: Dr. Asma Sayed

One of the issues that has been much discussed over the last few months is that of the rise in domestic violence due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic in late February 2020, concerns were raised that domestic violence will see an uptick as more people will be confined inside their homes with their oppressor, and vulnerable individuals, especially women and girls, will bear the biggest brunt of it. Research has now confirmed these fears. However, one needs to be aware that domestic and intimate partner violence is an ongoing epidemic, one that we need to continuously shed light on. The film, Thappad (2020), tries to raise voice against intimate partner violence especially within the institution of marriage in India.

Produced and directed by Anubhav Sinha, Thappad challenges the issue of domestic violence through intersecting stories of four women – a lawyer, a businesswoman, a housewife, and a housemaid. Highlighting male chauvinism and questioning the acceptance of casual violence, both physical and psychological, in the institution of marriage, the film raises some pertinent questions: Should women put up with abuse in a marital relationship? Is one slap (thappad) enough of a ground for a woman to seek divorce? Thappad underscores the pervasiveness of domestic violence across class divides and women’s struggles for freedom from the patriarchal holds that confine them.

Reviewer: Zahid Rajan

Director:  Sharan Sharma

Year: 2020

Language: Hindi (with English subtitles)  

Country: India

Genre: Biographical Drama film

Running Time: 112 minutes

The film is the true-life story of Gunjan Saxena who dreamed of becoming a pilot ever since she was a young girl. She finally enrolls in the Indian Air Force and makes her maiden rescue flight during the Kargil War in 1999. For viewers who are not familiar with the historical circumstances: the Kargil War was fought between India and Pakistan in the Kargil district of Kashmir along the ‘Line of Control’ (LOC) which constitutes the legally controlled border; established in 1947 when both India and Pakistan became independent countries. You can read more about the Kargil War here

Although the title of the film is hyped on the ‘Kargil’ aspect, it is really about one woman’s struggle to achieve her dreams in a male dominated culture that permeates family and society. The deeply embedded patriarchal system made it inconceivable that a woman could become a pilot, let alone serve in a national institution!

Reviewer: Zahid Rajan

Written and directed by Zakariya Mohammed 

Year: 2018

Language: Malayalam (with English subtitles)

Country: India

Genre: Sports Drama film

Running Time: 115 minutes

The mainstream media is nowadays full of stories of immigrants crossing from Africa into Europe seeking better economic fortunes as they escape from countries they describe as failed states and dictatorial regimes that make life unlivable. There are no statistics on the illegal migration of African people into India in particular and Asia in general but presumably, it does take place.

Based on a fictional account of an African football player who travels to the town of Malappuram in the state of Kerala in India to participate in a ‘Sevens’ football tournament, the film follows the story of ‘Sudani’ played by Samuel Abiola Robinson and his manager ‘Majid’ played by Soubin Shahir.  While the story line is quite simple of Sudani getting injured and staying with Majid while he recuperates, it is the interaction of Majid’s household and village with Sudani that makes for fascinating viewing.