Awake is a short film directed by Atul Mongia. It revolves around a woman Sameera(Ishika Mohan Motwane) and her husband Vikram(Yudhishtir Urs). It is a story of dynamics between a husband and a wife where he is diseased, apparently paralyzed but the reason for it is unknown and she has a mysterious arc to her.
The film does not have a definite end to it. As the story unravels, we see a flashback where during a car drive Sameera is confronting Vikram not to sell their house and he predominantly asks her to relax and “go to a spa and holidays”, she feels belittled by his ignorance. Vikram seems to be a highly ambitious guy who ignores his wife’s desires, wishes, and ambitions. Sameera has psychological shades in more ways than one. Her silences speak more than words. Her expressions of rage, anger are evident whenever Vikram does or says something which she doesn’t find right or makes her feel inconsequential. Presently we see her as a photographer. In the first scene, we see her capturing a couple guiding them to pose to be picture perfect. Perhaps, Sameera exactly wants her relationship to be like, “picture perfect”.
I think it is the passing of the relationship’s control from Vikram to Sameera. Is it karma or one of Sameera’s psychological shades that makes us question her, we don’t know. Once Vikram was driving a car and not caring about Sameera’s opinions but now it is the other way around. She is on the driver’s seat and he is on the adjacent seat, completely still with his eyes closed. This is metaphoric in so many ways. Maybe that’s what she wanted.
In the flashback, we see their wedding anniversary party at their home. When Vikram finds Sameera opening the fridge, he condescendingly asks her to bring more beer reminds me of Shefali Shah’s short film Juice where men are entitled to be served by their wives. Her expressions of offense and disgust are evident. What I understand about their equation is that Sameera never felt like an equal counterpart in their relationship. She does not hold any identity of her own until he becomes paralyzed and she finally got to pursue her career.
In one of the scenes, she sits across the dining table with Vikram on the other side, eats her food while his eyes are closed. It is their anniversary which she is celebrating. It is quiet and peaceful. It’s just two of them. She cuts a cake and eats sitting by his side. At times I felt she is a control freak and wanted her husband to always be her way or maybe she never got appreciated or accepted by him which she is kind of redeeming now. Maybe or maybe not. It seems to be an obsessive love because all she wants is him.
Even with his difficult medical condition we never see a helper or a nurse for his care or a helping hand to her. She is doing all by herself. Some instances in fact suggest that. When her friend Maggie(Reshmy Kurien) tells her that she should pursue the project that she always wanted to. She refuses by saying that she is occupied with a lot of work already or when Maggie’s husband(Suhaas Ahuja) tells her that she should let Vikram leave in a care facility as he is no more like he used to be and that she has changed her completely according to her taste. She leaves abruptly or when a friend Nikhil(Nicholas Brown) whom she meets after eight years wants to get close to her, she backs off. Just after that, we find her being intimate with her unreactive husband on the bed.
There is no single conclusion that we can draw after watching Awake. It leaves you with a lot of questions and we all can make answers to them within the arena of our sensibilities.