Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga – Film, Critics and Audience
I know of many who didn’t want to watch Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga because they were not “keen” on such a subject. Some tried to explain a little unpretentiously. “Not exactly my thing”, they opined. When I saw those posts on Facebook, I wondered if they meant that a war or revenge or murder or gangster was “their thing”! But of course, its totally an individual choice on what they spend money on and hence, no questions asked…no judgment passed. But you know what guys, you really missed something.
There were two specific moments in the film that, I felt, were the most impactful and humbling.
“Not exactly my thing”, they opined. When I saw those posts on Facebook, I wondered if they meant that a war or revenge or murder or gangster was “their thing”!
One, in Sweety’s room when the father and daughter sit side by side – facing opposite directions, the father says that though he always wanted to be a chef, he had to compromise into being a businessman. He is doing well, no problem for onlookers, but he isn’t happy. So much so, that he stays up late in the night to try out some culinary skills when everyone is sleeping and no one is offended with the man occupying the kitchen. A metaphor drawn to explain an irony – the social expectations from a man! The same social expectations that are critically sitting heavy on the daughter, forcing her to marry a man to save the family reputation. The father can be more open about his needs which are interest driven but the daughter must stay quiet about her sexuality which is existential. The common space where they mourn, in words and in silence is, the identity of both is being catapulted by a sacrifice they must make for others.
Second and the most hard-hitting one is towards the end of the film where the father enters the auditorium where a play is being staged, to find his daughter trapped inside a glass box, gasping for breath, calling out for the father to rescue her. A nightmare for the loving father when he finds himself in his daughter and internalizes the broader impact of what she is going through.
They are welcoming of the freedom on these terms, only from a distance.
While many critics have been warm with the subtle treatment of the film towards homosexuality, they have mentioned that the film lacks in building up the romance between the two girls. True that, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga didn’t invest much in scripting the exchange between lovers. This, I felt, was an interesting and intelligent thing to do, given that a majority of the Indian audience with all their liberal mindset, have not matured enough to experience a same-gender love story, even after colouring their profile images and welcoming section 377 with robust messages. They are welcoming of the freedom on these terms, only from a distance. Hence, had the makers been too pushy, the content would have turned divisive and television channels would have got yet another topic for their prime time debates.
Bold content raises a storm, they invite resistance. Humanitarian content touches hearts. That’s exactly where I feel, the film has contributed massively
I am personally thankful to team Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga for not leaving space for crude “publicity”. It shows, what they wanted to achieve through this film is far more profound. By focussing upon the pains of a woman trapped in a world where she can’t explain herself, the storytellers have attempted to inspire a social awakening. Raj Kumar Rao’s role in this space is exemplary as he plays that force which influences the silent sufferer to transform into a crusader. One more strong message here. Help them, support them, let them know that their voice holds. Love them.
Bold content raises a storm, they invite resistance. Humanitarian content touches hearts. That’s exactly where I feel, the film has contributed massively to the society and to the community. This subtle, non-aggressive communication declares that no one is here to threaten the existing systems; but the system isn’t complete unless everyone has the fair right to represent self with honesty!
Few days ago, a room full of friends – educated and well placed – were forecasting a probable funny future when their children grow up and start dating. When they came to my son finding his woman, I had asked, what if he finds a man! The simple question put the room in shock, and complete silence. After that everyone burst out laughing, pointing out how crazy I could be. I was not joking. I was not serious. I had only spelt a possibility.
Views are the author’s own