Between the Lines: Cineplay Hotstar Originals

Watched “Between the Lines” on Hotstar today. It is a Hotstar Originals Cineplay directed by Ritesh Menon.

Shot in a theatrical manner, the play features only two actors Nandita Das and Subodh Maskara. They are a lawyer couple married for 14 years. Both met in college, romance brewed and Shekhar married “the sharpest woman on earth” “Maya”.

Years later, they seem happy though set in their specific roles. Shekhar pursued his career seriously and is now a respected criminal lawyer, who never loses a case while Maya juggles with her duty as a wife, mother and housekeeper efficiently. And, their life is running smoothly.

Well, at least they thought it was or so it seemed on surface untill Maya takes up the case of a woman who shot a bullet at her husband. Maya is smitten with Kavita’s simplicity and feels that she couldn’t have committed the crime, she is accused of. And, is super excited to defend her and get her out of jail. Shekhar is okay with her choice, till he learns that he is pitted against Maya herself, as a Special Prosecutor for Mukesh, Kavita’s husband!

While Maya is a little surprised at this twist, Shekhar is flabbergasted that both of them would now be arguing against each other in court. He tries to convince Maya to drop the case, telling her that he doesn’t want his wife to lose or get entangled in a worthless case. Maya, on the other hand, is convinced of Kavita’s innocence and is keen on defending her. And as fate would have it, they end up arguing against each other not only in court but in home as well!

By and by, Maya realizes that her husband may not be physically violent and oppressive like Mukesh, but he does put her down verbally and emotionally. He is happy focusing on his career, conveniently letting Maya do all the work at home, right from paying bills to booking taxis for his mother! And yet she is supposedly not doing any work!

Kavita becomes a mirror for Maya. She keeps observing and realizing, that she has also been subdued to lower status in their married life. She wishes to talk it out loud to her husband and faces criticism from him. Shekhar himself undergoes great turmoil as his ego is bruised by his client and media alike, pitting the hotshot lawyer against his own wife and then losing the case!

By the time the case gets over, their pretended happy married life also shows chinks, and both of them are now locked in verbal duel!

Awesome concept, I must say, executed to perfection by Nandita Das in her double roles as Maya and Kavita. So did Subodh Maskara in his double role as Shekhar and Mukesh. He did hold himself well in front of seasoned Nandita, but at times he appeared too theatrical. Still he was a good match to Nandita. I loved the fiery fights they had, impeccable verbal repartee both of them indulged in, arguing the case from the different standpoints of a man and a woman.

Maya infers it superbly, when she says in the climax that “We always give others, what we ourselves need”. In a way, we see others as our mirror images, trying to understand them from our point of view, failing to recognize that the other person’s need may be different from us.

Maya, for instance is proud of her husband’s achievements as a lawyer, because she wants herself to be recognized as a winning lawyer too. She tries to live through her husband’s success. And yet she wants to be appreciated for her efforts as a wife, while she herself fails to recognize her husband’s attributes as a good husband!

Complicated we humans are! We hardly know what we ourselves want. And then we wonder why the other person is not appreciating us or why we are feeling miserable.

The Cineplay poses lots of questions, but gives no clear answers precisely because there is no puzzle, there can be no clear cut answers. I couldn’t help relating it to life. And I did like what Shekhar repeats tirelessly, “There is always a choice. And making no choice is also a choice”! Most of us have conveniently stuck with “making no choice” option, I guess!

Food for thought indeed!

P. S. Though I watched this on Hotstar Originals as a Cineplay, Between the Lines is actually Nandita Das’s directorial debut. It was staged in 2012, when she and Subodh Maskara were real life couple. The play is wriiten by Nandita herself with Divya Jagdale and is Subodh’s debut as a theatre actor too.

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