Nil Battey Sannata

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Still from the movie Nil Battey Sannata

Swara Bhaskar doesn’t look as old as the mother of teenage girl, but she has method-acted in a significant way by portraying herself a typical housemaid). Her character brings alive the typical daily help — not domestic workers but a whole wide variety of the poorer section of our society, who work hard in an ever-struggling life and sleep soundly each night. Swara as Chanda Sahay is not a stereotypically submissive member of her class: she has a distinctive personality: a headstrong, confident bai befitting a modern women. Chanda believes: “Gareeb toh vo hota hai, jiska koi sapna hi na ho” (Poor is he who doesn’t have a dream).

Ratna Pathak Shah is one such blessing in Chanda’s life who will never laugh at her dream. Rather, her employer understands, supports and genuinely helps her find a tough but effective way to achieve the dream. It’s a simple story showcasing mother-daughter relationship, the regular terms between the maid (Chanda) and her employer (Shah) in a moralistic script. The movie revolves around a lower middle class teenager Apeksha in 10th standard, who quite adamantly isn’t following any dream. Her mother is not at all ready to accept this because she toils day and night, in shifts, in a shoe factory, as a maid, as a washerwoman, with just one dream: of making Apu something quite unlike what she is.

Quite engagingly, the story also touches on maths phobia and how the tuition centres are a money-making business. Everybody wants the best of results, but those who are already in the cream layer get more attention than those who are really in need for improvement.

It is easy for the audience to connect with this story. The message goes: In life, you will find plenty of people who will never understand your dreams. Ask them to go to hell! Only a few will genuinely understand your dreams: Hug them tight,. A lot of obstacles will come in the way but always remember that it’s only your dream.

Apu learns that what matters is how far she can go to achieve a dream — it can only be via luck or hard work, and for a lower middle class girl the only choice is hard work.