It is no surprise Mumbai is an immigrant city with thousands of women who move here to start a new phase of life. Guided by dreams and passion, these ladies leave their homes and come to the city in the hope of living an independent and good life. Bachelor Girls, directed by Shikha Makan, captures the essence of the struggle and issues single women have to face while trying to find an apartment to live in, in Mumbai.
I would get calls at 11 in the night from my landlord asking me to switch my lights off! It was almost like he stayed up all night with his telescope pointed at my window.
When I came to this city from Jaipur, I thought finding a place wouldn't be a big deal. After all Mumbai was the city of dreams and everyone found their place eventually? Little did I know that I was living in my own bubble. When I did find a place in Bandra, I was mentally harassed by my landlord and the society I stayed in. I use "harassment" because I actually lost weight due to all the stress. I would get calls at 11 in the night from my landlord asking me to switch my lights off! It was almost like he stayed up all night with his telescope pointed at my window. Although, I have to say, the police went all the way to help me in this situation. They helped me get my deposit back and landlord was dealt with at the police station. I was so surprised at this because my landlord was no roadside dealer, he was educated and well to do. It made me wonder how far education teaches ethics to you. I'm not alone in this struggle, many people that I have met in this city have had to go through this absurdness. And this film is testimony to that.
Amongst the many things Mumbai has taught me, it has definitely helped me break the ice amongst a group of people by starting a topic around house hunting! Be rest assured you will absolutely bond with new people over some house issues you both may have faced at one point in your stay.
When I got an invitation to the screening of the movie, I knew I absolutely had to go. I am a single woman and I have had a landlord who I wanted to punch in the face. Shikha Makan, the director of Bachelor Girls, has captured the everyday problems an unmarried woman, across all ages, faces with her landlord or society or both.
"I've been told it's a gendered film. It is that of course, even if I don't want it to be. The society creates an issue around gender, and that is why this has become an issue", says Makan. The societies refuse to give bachelor girls an apartment to rent, and even if they do, some of them harass them so much with individual rules and regulations that your home becomes a living hell.
Clea, one of the girls documented in the film, says she was asked to empty the house in the middle of the night because she had 15 guests over for her birthday. Apparently the society secretary called her landlord saying they will call the police if she does not empty the house.
The number one thing the society assumes when a single woman has too many guests in her house, is that she runs a brothel. Yes, that gasp is correct.
Female tenants are not even considered as residents of the building. They are harassed, called names, and inflicted restrictions upon that make absolutely no sense! "Do not come after 11 pm, do not have boys over". The girl's character is judged by how late she comes, who she comes with, who spends how much time in her house. I've been called names just for keeping my balcony lights on till late, so I can only imagine what would happen if I had company late in the night.
The film showcases a reality that everyone needs to come to terms with. Mumbai may seem like the happy-go-lucky city that does not put its nose in your business, but you'll be surprised to know people are just the same everywhere. You become a rebel and a burden on the society if you do not behave in a way they do want you to. Bachelor Girls is a shoutout to all those women who have been harassed just for being independent.