Sometimes people (read: men) heap scorn on and mock concepts such as reserved train compartments for women and reserved seats for women aboard buses. The argument is that if women are independent and equal to men in all ways, why do they need such special treatment? The simple answer to this is that the day women can travel on public transport without the fear of being pinched, groped, felt up, pressed against and violated in a hundred different ways, we can dispense of this special treatment.
That Day After Everyday is a short film that deals with just this issue of harassment and molestation of women. The film has been described as being about “teasing” or “eve teasing”; however these are laughably inadequate, inaccurate and insultingly coy terms to describe what women undergo on a daily basis. The film seeks to explore that defiling male gaze, the debilitating harassment women are subject to; the sort of persecution that has the ability to scar for life.
Film: That Day After Everyday (Release date 29 October 2013)
Starring: Radhika Apte, Aranya kaur, Geetanjali Thapa and Sandhya Mridul
Producer: Sankalp Achrekar and Omer Haidar
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Story/Screenplay: Nitin Bhardwaj
The direction of Anurag Kashyap always meant for celluloid which was well-made, engrossing, hard-hitting and thought provoking. The filmmaker has given us films such as Black Friday, Dev D, Gangs of Wasseypur and more so it’s no wonder that this film is another dark and brooding slice of real life.
The 22 minute film starts with a woman working quickly to get ready for another day ahead while a querulous male voice in the background demands tea and drones on about crimes against women, offering unwanted and useless advice. That Day After Everyday follows the mundane lives of three women who struggle to live their lives; battling the harassment of local thugs and others every day – walking on the road, in public transport, in the work place.
Where That Day after Everyday Scores
At a lot of levels the film works really well. The stark terror and helplessness that women feel when stalked is well captured. The overt advances from men in public transport and the sadistic enjoyment that the perpetrators feel is also brought out very well. The subtle harassment at offices is underplayed but unambiguous nonetheless. The distress that women suffer daily and female solidarity in the face of it as well as their satisfaction in roundly rebuffing unwanted advances is touchingly real.
The film underscores the futile advise often offered so that women may be safe from harassment – stop working, stop interacting with certain people and yes, that ridiculous suggestion – stop men from eating chowmien!
The idea that women need to take charge and not let the harassers triumph is a useful one. Women learning self-defense and giving the attackers as good as they get is certainly a satisfying concept. The climax of the film features a violent sequence where the attackers get a just, but violent comeuppance. Where the film also works is the delightful little end where a short mirthful gasp of relief; a satisfied chortle escapes the lips.
Where That Day After Everyday Somehow Falls Short
However the suggestion that the ability to defend oneself and the subduing of one’s own fears is the solution is somehow inadequate. Sure it’s a great idea for women to learn self-defense and protect themselves from predators. But even a woman who is physically strong and well trained will get easily overpowered by a much larger man – particularly if she is alone or if there is more than one attacker. So standing up to your attacker and punching them in the face as a solution to harassment and molestation falls short.
Also this solution once again casts the onus on women. It tells them protect yourself, equip yourself, arm yourself, abandon your fears. What about weeding out prejudice from society? What about educating men to respect women? What about changing patriarchal mindsets?
Why That Day After Everyday is a Very Worthy Attempt
Well, obviously these are monumental social changes that will take a very, very long time to come about. Meanwhile, if women empower themselves in any way possible – by becoming financially independent, by learning how to knee a man in the groin, learning taekwondo, carrying pepper spray or simply becoming more aware, well, that’s a start.
The film finds a workable solution for the here and now. It is an excellent attempt and certainly more than 4 lakh people need to watch The Day After Everyday (the latest count of the YouTube video was over 1.6 million hits). The idea that women should take charge of their own safety is not an ideal solution – but at this moment perhaps the only workable one.
By Reena Daruwalla