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Batul Mukhtiar makes Mumu Shelley: a terrific film you will love
I exercised a special friendship right and persuaded the lovely Batul Mukhtiar to share her new film Mumu Shelley after she shared how the film was received at a posh film festival abroad. So why am I writing about it now?
Easy. The film is going to be played online in the South Asian Feminist Film Festival from the 3rd of December (check out doculive. blogspot.com link here:
I want you to see it because it’s your story. And mine.
A young woman shows up for a dinner party at her room-mate’s supposedly woke aunt’s home. Her purpose? The young woman wants the aunt to help the two young women share some news with the family…
Don’t we all look for some sort of support from one person in the family if we need to announce something you know the family is not going to like?
The house is filled to the gills with things. The setting makes everything claustrophobic. And the woke aunt Mumu (played by Pubali Sanyal) overdoes the friendly hospitality by plying the young woman, Shelley (Aiman Mukhtiar, who also wrote the screenplay) with food. It’s not just food, the aunt mangles the cocktail and you want to say, ‘No! Don’t!’ when the young woman is encouraged by the ‘Drink up!’ request. And as Indians are wont to, the aunt makes the drink only for the guest.
The two women don’t know one another, but as it happens with so many, the initial awkwardness soon vanishes. The two are no longer wary of one another but are sitting at the dining table sharing more than kebobs. Many secrets come out and confessions are made when the two women realise that neither the aunt’s husband, nor the neice are going to really show up for the dinner party. Surely, the rice spilling on the floor is a sign?
It’s fun to watch the exchange of ideas on the way the two women live. You will find your life mirroring the aunt’s in some aspects, and you will nod approvingly at how the young woman is able to insist on the life she chooses to live. You envy the freedom afforded to the young. And when the fire alarm goes off, you know that it’s another sign for the two women: do they listen to the demand made by the alarm and evacuate this little cocoon? Or should they stay put and thrash out the differences and find common ground.
The film ends too soon, alas. It makes you want to know how Mishti and Shelley announce their ‘news’ to the family? Will Mumu then deny knowing anything about it? Will Mumu’s husband get mad at Mumu for hiding the fact from the family that she has met Shelley? Will Mishti give in to family ‘pressure’ and get married to the ‘good guy from a good family’ they will find for her?
This conversation gets over as the credits roll. But the film stays with you like the little wine stain on Shelley’s satin shoe.
I am biased about Batul. She makes National Award winning children’s film called Kaphal one day and then happily reads out wonderful tales of strange and marvelous characters in a girl’s school the next time writers meet. And she does not exhibit any airs that superbly talented folk often do. And I hope this film is just the first of a series: ‘women are talking’.