By Abhigna Ghosh
Direction and Written By: Shefali Shah
Review: With the transition from a girl to a woman, the new responsibilities and identities often tend to overshadow our true selves. As a woman goes on to be a wife, a daughter-in-law, and a mother, she keeps giving away a part of herself and keeps losing herself. It has been deeply rooted in our culture that a woman needs to give up on herself to love and care for her family. That’s the century-old patriarchal shackle that Shefali Shah’s directorial Happy Birthday Mummy Ji released on Royal Stag Barrel Select Large-Short Films aims to break.
The film directed and written by Shefali Shah takes a fresh approach on this subject and delivers beyond our expectations.
It opens with Suchi played by Shefali Shah preparing for her mother-in-law’s birthday. She decorates the house beautifully with her own hands and coordinates with the caterer single-handedly. While she is busy planning a grand party for her mother-in-law’s 75th birthday, the ongoing global pandemic wrecks her plan.
The government announces another lockdown, barring her family from reaching the venue. She is left alone, stranded in the luxurious villa, desperately trying to get back to her family. But destiny had other plans for her and the lockdown was extended by another 14 days. The only option that she now had was to wait for her driver to pick her up. The worst part is she arranges for her family to have fun and celebrate the birthday but they still feel she hasn’t done enough.
However, it was the first time in forever that she had time for herself. She was in peace, exploring the grand estate, doing things she loves, and enjoying blissful silence. The film follows her on the journey of self-discovery as she spends quality time with herself.
The tale revolves around a very vital topic that’s so important yet not much talked about. When we look around at the woman in our lives, how often do we think about what they want? It’s mostly about our needs which turns out to be their duties. However, this brilliant short film shows that beneath the layer of a mother, wife, and daughter-in-law is a woman with her own wants, will, and wishes. And it’s absolutely unjustified that women are forced to suppress their desires.
The tasteful direction by the actress also adds to the cinematic brilliance. The excellent cinematography takes the movie to a whole new level. Each scene and each emotion has been highlighted with a resonant background soundtrack as well. The dialogues have been skillfully woven to maintain a seamless flow. The heart-touching narration matched with an equally wonderful direction will certainly leave a mark on every woman’s heart.
The film also flaunts a tasteful set of video montages depicting how Suchi finally begins to enjoy her own company and rediscovers herself. Those are a sheer masterpiece with a blend of brilliant cinematography and hard-hitting narration. Also in the climax, when she is shown cooking her own meal with a glass of wine in her hand, the warm color palette of that scene hiked its beauty to an unmatchable level.
The movie ended on a high note when the actress was a scene taking a dip in a tub surrounded by brightly lit candles. The breath-taking contrast of countless dazzling candles against a dark background is strikingly mesmerizing and a feast to one’s eyes. Apart from the visual brilliance, the scene subtly delivers an inspiring message. Suchi finally embraces her rights to devote time to herself and is unapologetic about doing so. This scene tenderly empowers a million women and teaches them to be unapologetic for catering to their own needs.
Shefali Shah being the brilliant actress she is, nailed the role of Suchi perfectly. Her reactions to her family and their statements, her expressions, body language, and everything made Shefali disappear into Suchi. Her transition from a woman whose life was centered around her family to someone who actually appreciates her “me-time” is exemplary and a lesson for every woman.
The film ends on a positive note when Suchi decides to embrace her newfound freedom and take care of herself for a little longer. Both in terms of the story and the set design, the final scene was simply magnificent.
Happy Birthday Mummy Ji is a perfect late-night watch, especially if you need to sleep early. The feel-good, 14-minute short film will melt away your day’s exhaustion and when you finally go to bed, you will definitely be happier and at much more peace. Although simple and short, movies like these touch your heart and leave you with a message you will carry forever.