Memory makes up the entirety of our identity and existence. We affirm who we are and what we want in context of our memories with ourselves and the people around us. When this central pillar of memory is fractured, so does our connection to reality, causing emotional despair and even violence as a response. A recently released short film explores this emotional turmoil experienced by humans who are caught in the vortex of fractured dementia and cognitive impairment.
The Broken Table is a 23-minute short film by Chintan Sarda starring Naseeruddin Shah and Rasika Dugal that follows Giridhar, or Giri, a 60-year-old retired lawyer and Alzheimer’s patient and his young caregiver, Deepti, an aspiring psychologist who is struggling to tell her husband that she cannot bear children in fear of separation. Challenging the stigma of mental illness and our perceptions of those who suffer from it, the film is largely a tale of self-acceptance.
The interplay of Giri and Deepti leads both of them into a journey of self-revelations; whether it's Deepti studying him as a patient, repeatedly reminding him that he has been retired for a while and his wife Prabha is dead, or Giri taking notes of her marital equations and dissecting their relationship that might come apart because of her inability to have children. As the power dynamics shift between the two, with both of them taking notes on each other, the binary concept of who is the 'broken table', who's taking care of whom is lost in the mix to charming obscurity.
The Broken Table tackles the serious themes of mental illness among senior citizens as well as the definition of womanhood in a traditional Indian family. In a way, both of these characters are unable to meet their respective roles and expectations that put them in the way of a judgemental and skewed perception from society. Function becomes their flaw — Can you be a person if you don't remember your life? Can you be a wife if you can't get pregnant? The film poses these painful questions through a sincere interaction between two vulnerable human beings.
Watch The Broken Table below.
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