On International Women’s Day, it would only be fitting to see more stories about women and by women take centre stage. More than just a gimmick to sell greeting cards, these stories enable us to be aware of the inspiring, interesting and sometimes even prosaic lives of the women around us. ‘Ghar Ki Murgi,’ is all of those things wrapped into one.
This short film, directed by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari and written by Nitesh Tiwari, focuses on homemaker Seema. We are introduced to her humble home where she lives with her husband, two kids, and in-laws. Apart from having a rather tasking daily routine taking care of everyone and everything, she also runs a small salon. Recall how Sridevi, in Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish runs her house and also runs a business impeccably, but to her husband, she ‘was born to make laddoos.’ Seema’s plight… in fact her story… is practically Shashi’s twin. Undervalued for all that she does, she finally puts her foot down and decides to take a month-long break and travel to Goa.
More than a strong narrative, it is really Sakshi Tanwar’s triumphant performance that holds this film together. Much like English Vinglish, or even Tiwari’s similarly themed Panga which released earlier this year, it is not only imperative that the lead shows a certain sincerity as someone who fulfils her familial responsibility but also evokes empathy for the usual thanklessness of it all. Sakshi is luminescent and strong-willed and performs with the same gumption as she has so far in both TV and film. It is evident as the film moves that she is slowly becoming the person who is acknowledging that she deserves the joy and happiness of her own desires. And women in similar dispositions would feel adequately represented through her performance.
Apart from a relatable lead character, the initial bits of the film do well to establish the simple yet somewhat myopic worldview of the film’s environment. There are small instances where Seema’s individuality and her place in the family hierarchy are questioned. Perhaps the smartest part of the writing is how, after she decides to go off on a holiday, the entire family sits together in a round table conference discussing the repercussions of this decision. Who will cook? Who will clean? Who will buy the groceries? Who will pay the bills? We are left wondering if it would have been even half the discussion if a man were asking the same question. And why does she need anyone’s permission anyway? Each member of the family is almost paralysed at the thought of their personal needs not being met, and not one is concerned about whether Seema’s were all this time. However, the switch to them realising her worth is far too radical and too convenient in such a short time span, which dilutes the overall effect of the message.
Tiwari has a knack for presenting realistic, simple and endearing households in all her films. This Old Delhi setting is no different, which is still relatively untouched by the pace of the rest of the city. Seema’s world is small, but its visual grammar is universally resonant. At one point, we see the only other person who supports her is her maid. Beyond the class difference that exists between these women, their responsibilities evoke the same pathos in this setting.
Ghar Ki Murgi is well-intentioned and well-timed. But it is less wholesome and smaller moments of realisation, which are carried solely by Sakshi Tanwar’s mettle. Perhaps a little repetitive of what we’ve seen in English Vinglish, the runtime is underutilised in subtlety. Instead, in order to show that Seema deserves to be taken seriously, there is one monologue and one conversation that is enough to turn the whole household around. We know that one moment is not enough. This is years of conditioning and it cannot miraculously change just by making a list of bills that are saved upon by our mothers every month.
However, I enjoyed the simplicity of the setting and the every-woman story. It is pure joy to watch Sakshi Tanwar get meaty roles across mediums, and if this is enough for her to headline a movie… I’m on board. Recommended as a worthy one-time watch. It’s not a simple conversation, but if it makes you think even once about the selfless women in your life, that is a small battle won.