Kajal review: Paakhi Tyrewala's short film shows how kohl-laden eyes are a woman's ideal weapon of choice

Devansh Sharma

June 08, 2018 14:42:19 IST

The concept of cinema and reality seeking mutual inspiration finds resonance in the short film Kajal.

A lone, scared women, dressed in traditional Indian clothes, roaming about in dimly lit deserted lanes of Mumbai, is a common sight. But as soon as reality starts leading the viewer to a predictable path, director Pakhi Tyrewala's imagination takes over. She uses a familiar setting and adorns it with unexpected events to facilitate the marriage of reality and cinema.

Salony Luthra in a still from Kajal. YouTube

Salony Luthra in a still from Kajal. YouTube

Salony Luthra plays a nameless and voiceless (by choice or compulsion) protagonist, who serves as the centerpiece of this 20-minute short. The camera follows two days of her life, from her home, where she coexists with an abusive husband, to office, where she is the only woman in a sea of men, some lecherous and some genial. The first day marks her saturation point from subjugation to inferiority and the second, her first yet bold effort to defy what pulls her down every day.

On Day 1, she is ill-treated by her boss who keeps her waiting for his approval signatures on routine paperwork. She leaves office late, only to be greeted with a warm smile by the office attendant and a lewd song by the building's watchman. She makes her way to the bus stop where a man deliberately leaves behind a package after being summoned by a police officer who is looking for 'company' on his way home. She is irrepressibly attracted to the contents of the package and takes it home.

While reality would have alluded to possibly something else, she is actually shown with a gun. She demonstrates how a woman derives both pleasure and power from a revolver. The protagonist wields the gun in a show of supremacy and moments later, caresses her body with the gun, surrendering herself to the cold metal of her weapon of choice. Her relationship with the gun is depicted as parasitic. She is at her strongest, and her weakest, in the gun's company; but is empowered by the choice to feel either emotion.

Day 2 sees her assert her will on all the men who hold her back. It starts with applying kohl or kajal, much to the ire of her abusive, gambler husband who forbids her from any kind of shringar. The kajal only underlines the brimless eyes that pour out pent-up rage. The eyes soothe the affable attendant, embarrasses the sleazy watchman and compels her husband to break down. Her eyes are a symbol of the movie screen which establishes a transparent, permeable boundary between the real and the reel. Similarly, the eyes not only help the person to look at the world but also allow the world to look within.

Tyrewala brings home the point that a woman only needs a pinch of kajal to underline her reality, one that often evades the prying eyes of the patriarchal society.

Updated Date: Jun 08, 2018 14:42 PM