In Atul Mongia’s Awake, a girl comes dwelling to her ready husband. By the time she is again from work, he’s already in mattress. There is an ease with which it unfolds, quietly suggesting it’s a daily affair. Her husband is comatose. The brittle dignity accorded by the medical time period falls aside when seen in particular person. His dependence on her, so uncomplicated and apparent, is heightened by his unawareness of it. She fixes his hair, smears a little bit cake on his mouth on their anniversary. She kisses him goodnight. The 23-minute quick explores her life which, in textbook phrases, is unambiguously tragic.
Sameera (Ishika Motwane) is a profitable photographer. She guides from behind the digicam, telling them tips on how to maintain one another. She is skilled to evoke companionship, and on her half is aware of tips on how to maintain one. She returns to her husband unfailingly. She meets her buddies with him. She celebrates their marriage with him by her aspect. This is a curious association, one the place the girl is susceptible to be handled both with pity or scorn; her life open to be judged as transferring too slowly or swiftly. But Mongia’s twisted and ingenious quick resists such apparent studying. Instead of specializing in them, it facilities on her. And by doing so, the seeming dysfunctionality of their marriage serves as a critique of the performance of marriages.
His function within the association — passive, stripped off a alternative — is acutely acquainted. The husband’s peripheral presence evokes the central existence of wives in marriages. The quick is conscious of this amusing irony. At one level, he retains sitting on a chair whereas she will get able to exit. In one other occasion, Sameera shares her work particulars along with her buddies because the husband participates mutely. Mongia milks the underlying irony to the hilt when the feminine good friend on the desk urges Sameera to not let go of knowledgeable alternative due to the current scenario and the opposite man cuts in to remind the husband has no say.
But this gender swap narrative is undercut by Sameera’s real take care of her husband. She treats him tenderly, engages him in her actions, guards his situation from strangers, watches tv with him. As if she is instantly selfless. On the floor, that is her dishing out spousal duties, however Awake stresses it’s greater than that. The fixed smile taking part in on her lips — Motwane is a revelation– alerts her pleasure on this association. And via this willingness, Mongia uncovers the central thought of his movie: the selfishness of caregiving.
Caring essentially is a selfless act. It additionally fingers over the reign of management. As the movie progresses, we be taught the middle-aged Sameera was once the lifetime of a celebration. She might out-drink any man, her good friend reminds her. And but flashbacks from her marriage depict a special her. At one level, we see scenes from a celebration, a special one. But this time, it’s her husband who has the middle stage as she quietly seems on. In one other snippet from the previous they’re driving again dwelling. He informs a couple of new job supply he’s planning to take up and, in the identical breath, asks her to calm down, get pleasure from her life. These are delicate references however the implication is evident: the wedding was about him. That although they had been companions, they weren’t on equal footing. That it was his story and he or she was a bystander. This current scenario, nevertheless morbid, allows her a way of management. Caring for him sanctions her to take cost of her personal life.
In some ways, Awake is harking back to Kislay’s Aise Hee (2019), an affecting movie depicting a widow’s new pleasure of dwelling submit her husband’s demise. In each instances, their companions will not be pilloried as evil males. But that their absence, to no matter extent, might be liberating goes on to point out emancipation for girls is fortune at finest and negotiation at worst.