Sara'S: A childfree happily ever after taletext_fields
Forming a family and raising children are considered a 'rite of passage' from adolescence to full adulthood and is tacitly assumed to be central to the notions of a fulfilled life. But what happens when you decide to not get pregnant/bear a child? Or what is it like to regret having children? I'm sure many of you might have felt this way at some stage of your life and some may have even cursed themselves over such 'demon' thoughts for children are seen as 'gifts' from god.
'Sara'S, aptly directed by Jude Anthany Joseph, tries to communicate that you are not alone in these thoughts regarding ethics of procreation by focusing on voluntary childlessness (i.e.childlessness by choice). More specifically, the movie examines how a woman's decision to not have any children after marriage can contribute to stigmatization, which often leads to humiliation and social exclusion.
Anna Ben wins hearts for portraying Sara so convincingly that it gives sheer joy to watch her bring life to the character, with great aplomb. Sara is a girl who is sacredly unapologetic about her life choices. She is not sorry for having boyfriends, talking about sex or carrying independent thoughts regarding her career and personal life.
"For me, a person's ultimate aim should be to contribute something so the world will remember you after you die..not just have kids and be remembered by them", Sara tells her partner Jeevan, played by Sunny Wayne.
In a society where parenthood is never an option, Sara's decision to not have babies is viewed as a "temporary phase" which will "get sorted out on its own". But we know that Sara's desire to remain childless is something she had proclaimed at a very young age and that she has remained consistent in her choice even after her graduation when she started working in the film industry.
Though Sara happened to meet Jeevan with whom she could relate on her various choices, she couldn't stand the conniving endeavours of her mother-in-law Reethamma (Mallika Sukumaran) who is hell-bent on convincing Sara to conceive and adhere to their family's choices.
Let's face it, the screenplay by Dr Akshay Hareesh has conveniently downplayed Sara's struggles by placing her in a privileged space wherein she is financially stable and has a soft and supportive dad who is there for his daughter through thick and thin. Sara's father Vincent, played by Benny P Nayarambalam greatly resembles Dr Mathew Devasya (Renji Panicker) of Jude's 2014 movie 'Om Shanthi Oshana'. To an extent, this seems to be a thoughtful approach by the filmmakers to retain the feel-good essence of the film.
Similarly, though the movie tries to put a gender lens to reveal the sexism and male dominance in the film industry, it barely scratched the surface of the problem. It almost seems like someone waves a magic wand for Sara to get the things she wanted.
Producer Sandeep, enacted by Kerala's 'Collector Bro' Prasanth Nair, who claims to be 'non-sexist', refuses to hire Sara for being a girl only to call her back the very next day requesting to direct the film for him. In another instance, Sara convinces a veteran actress Anjali (Meera Nair) to make a comeback through her film after having a kid.
The gynaecologist, Dr Hafees played by Siddique also surprisingly approves Sara's decision to abort her 'accidental pregnancy' and advises the couple that "It's better not be a parent than be a bad parent". His monologue on pregnancy and parenting is educative and refreshing.
Though the movie has a very predictable climax, it is commendable that the makers of the film refrained from doing the usual balancing act of "glorifying motherhood" to pretend to be naive. Also, the sudden acceptance Sara gets after her film's FDFS (first-day first show) exposes the convenient stance of the conservative milieu wherein women are heard only when they prove themselves, be it at work or in the family.
In totality, Sara'S is a brilliant team effort. From interior designing to costumes, lighting and sound, everybody on the set deserves equal credit for creating this film with a horde of actors amid a pandemic. Shaan Rahman's peppy music also makes the film an enjoyable watch. Above all is the fine craftsmanship of director Jude Anthany in engaging the audience with simple yet relatable thoughts throughout the film without being offensive or preachy.
Sara'S reaffirms that it's "perfect ok" to solely decide what is best for you and accomplish your unfinished life goals without feeling guilty about motherhood myths. So, before labelling women as feminists or trouble makers in the family and judging them over her big bindi, let's stand by her side regardless of her success and downfalls.
The movie is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.