‘Ghar Ki Murgi’ Is a Tribute to Women’s Unpaid, Unseen Labour
The film is directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and stars Sakshi Tanwar.
‘Ghar Ki Murgi’ Has a Relatable Premise but Removed From Reality
“My wife was born to make laddoos,” says Adil Hussain’s character in English Vinglish mocking Shashi (Sridevi) as she serves sweetmeats to her niece’s in-laws. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s short film Ghar Ki Murgi, released on Women’s Day (8 March) has a lot of similarities with Gauri Shinde’s film.
Starring Sakshi Tanwar as Seema Batra, ‘Ghar Ki Murgi’ recounts her monotonous life as a wife, mother and daughter-in-law. As the pressure cooker whistles, other family members stir in their sleep but Seema’s day has long begun.
She makes breakfast for the family, collects milk, serves bed tea to her in-laws, drops the children off to the school bus, takes her father-in-law for an evening walk, teaches her kids, makes dinner and stares at another day full of chores. Nobody bothers to sit with Seema as she eats her food alone or even place their hands on her tired and sore body. The only time this woman gets a taste of freedom is when she counts the money she’s earned from working in a parlour.
One day, the cooker bursts. Seema declares to her husband that she needs a break. “I want to go to Goa for a month and do nothing,” she says. “What do you need a break for?” asks her husband and she gives him a piece of her mind. All hell breaks loose and the Batra family loses sleep over how to manage the household. “Who’s going to make breakfast?”, “Who’s going to wash clothes?”, “Who’s going to collect the ration”, “Who’s going to give me medicines on time?” - the questions are endless and the answers point at the one person who is taken for granted day in and day out.
Ashwiny creates a relatable character in Seema. She is the beast of burden. She loves dancing, but her daughter finds that an embarrassment. Just as Shashi’s daughter scoffed at her mom for trying to speak in English with the school principal.
Seema’s husband is also the middle-class, conservative man who cries about slogging in office but refuses to acknowledge his wife’s contribution at home. “Doing upper lips and eyebrows is not enough to run a household,” he humiliates his wife in front of his friends. The only person who understands Seema is the house help. Both ensure that families are fed and looked after, both are subject to everyday sexism and both are united in their miseries.
Sakshi Tanwar gives a compelling performance as Seema who sheds silent tears but never lets her family get a whiff of her troubles. She wants to break free from the shackles of domestic duties, but her life as a robot prevents her from enjoying the happiness she deserves. Seema stands for all the mothers who embrace their loved ones in their protective arms but who are deprived of the basic appreciation and warmth and are undervalued for their efforts.
Ghar Ki Murgi is a film celebrating all the women who balance their homes and passions, but it is removed from reality. We all yearn to see a welcome change in society, but the wall of conditioning is too opaque. A monologue isn’t enough to turn people around. Also, I would have loved to see Seema enjoy her peace and not take the decision she did in the end. Nevertheless, here’s hoping that the dark clouds hovering over every Seema’s head give way to sunshine.
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