Awake, written and directed by debutant Atul Mongia, is a rather silent yet masterful tale about companionship, with its roots embedded within patriarchy. A film that talks about the beautiful vulnerabilities of a married couple, wherein one is there, but not quite, while the other overcompensates for the two.
In one of the defining scenes from the film, Sameera’s (Ishika Mohan Motwane) friend asks her as to why she turned down her dream job as it was what she always wanted to do. When asked by a man, he said, “but what about Vikram?”, because it’s always about the man. A woman is bound to sacrifice and compromise on her goals and aspirations, especially if the husband benefits from it. This is the society we live in.
Debutant Ishika Mohan Motwane (also a photographer in reality), is seen shooting this couple who are also having the same kind of small talk about fitness and other things. Ishika’s life is like any other working woman, until she gets home. At home, while cuddling with her husband (Yudhishtir Urs), we feel that sense of emptiness within that bond. That feeling is confirmed when we see him on a wheelchair, with a rather unknown illness, which makes him seem like a vegetable, barely surviving.
Sameera has visibly given up on her life goals, to stay back with Vikram, and to take care of him. To one, it may seem like a patriarchal, robotic decision where the man’s needs always come first, but within the film it plays off as a bond of utmost tenderness and love. The film does cut between past and present timelines where Sameera thinks about the shift in their lives, but it also shows that she has made peace with it and chose this lifestyle and is happy with it.
Ishika Motwane is inch perfect playing Sameera, and for a debutant she knocks it out of the park. Hardly having any dialogues, though not needing any, she encompasses that feeling of vulnerability and layers of her emotions to utmost perfection and delivers them with great ease. Having been behind the camera for so long may have helped her for her expressions go to great lengths in telling us what her words don’t otherwise.
Written and directed by casting director and debutant Atul Mongia, Awake talks about a relationship wherein one is more in it, than the other, who isn’t there… quite literally. It also focuses on the topic of patriarchy and tries to go against it showing how if it comes to it, the women won’t be what the men are to them.
One can catch Awake as part of the We Are One global film festival, till 14th June, 2020, on Youtube.