Directed by: #AdrishNath
Written by: #AdrishNath
Eligible? is an intimate and moving Indian short film that challenges negative perceptions about certain female workers.
In a dark room, a young Indian woman (Pratyusha Rakshit) browses social media, and sees a post from an ex-partner celebrating the fact he has moved on from her. A black-and-white flashback scene then shows her defending herself over a phone call, boldly responding to his scathing critique of her profession, her class and her romantic eligibility. Following this phone call, the young woman’s professional identity is revealed as she tries to move on from this man, and we see her defiant words in a new light.
The structure of this plot, which hinges on a reveal in its final scene, cleverly subverts our perception of the protagonist and the profession she works in. Eligible? displays a sensitive treatment of a topic many are dismissive of, and its message is defiantly feminist. It is surely for this reason that the short film has been nominated for and won numerous awards, such as Best Message at the Athens International Film Festival.
For someone in their early twenties, writer-director Adrish Nath shows an impressive talent for framing shots and creating mood: we only see this young woman in strict close-ups of her eyes, her mouth and her hands. This creates a very intimate feel, which not only reflects the intense solipsism of scrolling through social media but also develops the short film’s tenderness towards its central character. The black and white scene is also well-photographed and atmospheric, especially as the phone call ends and she stares broodingly into nature. Furthermore, the background music of Sayana Das is disposed effectively in the dark room, enhancing the private drama unfolding.
At just over 3 minutes, however, Eligible? is ultimately a little lacking in development of drama and plot. Overall, the film ends up feeling more like an advert seeking to change social perceptions, rather than a fully-fleshed out story. There is definitely potential to go deeper into the life of this character, and to elaborate on the attitudes of those around her. However, the film ends rather abruptly and leaves the viewer surprised that it’s already over. Nonetheless, Nath shows enough potential in his film-making to leave us intrigued to see a longer story told.
Eligible? is an admirably defiant short film that seeks to destabilise certain harmful, patriarchal double standards in Indian society. Despite being slightly under-developed in terms of character and drama, it exhibits many signs of film-making promise from its young writer-director.