The message is blatantly on the market and in your face: we’re a tousled society, snug in sustaining social boundaries.
“I never understood why she left me after everything I did for her,” thinks Lexi Makhija (Kaneez Surkha) to herself upon discovering that her live-in home assist, Lakshmi (Suman Patel), had left her condominium with out intimation. It’s an oft-repeated assertion at residence (mine, yours, everybody’s), one made with out realising that nobody ever wishes a lifetime of servitude and submission.
Lexi acutely lacks this consciousness. She is consumed by a singular, albeit trivial need to host the most effective, most lavish tea occasion in her social circle. She waxes eloquent in regards to the opulence she has skilled at each good friend’s home. One throws a celebration with an costly tea set, one other with flower bouquets made completely out of Rs 2,000 payments, and one good friend has “not two, not three, not four, but five maids to one teacup.” The visuals of those conditions are amusing, although not completely unlikely. Never underestimate the eccentricities of rich individuals with massive disposable incomes.
For her mission to have a tea occasion, Lexi has the whole lot at hand, simply not the proper candidate who can help her. The story circles again to the time earlier than Lexi employs Lakshmi, and the way she hires and fires 12 girls inside two months. “A good maid is like finding a man in your forties. A fucking unicorn,” she says till Lakshmi arrives at her doorstep.
Patel’s Lakshmi is all the time stored at an arm’s size, an all too acquainted observe. Even her personhood is rapidly dismissed when Lexi rechristens her as “Shaila.” She is scrutinised from head to toe: “Her hair was free of lice. Her nails were clipped short, no dirty nail polish. The locket was not a good sign. Did she have a boyfriend? Only one way to know, check for the waxed upper lip.” However, the quick doesn’t even cowl half of the mistreatment that ladies home staff face —sexual exploitation, harassment, and trafficking.
The Shaila(S), in comical method, pinpoints how profoundly ingrained the thought of othering is — the “yes” and “no” labels for meals in Lexi’s fridge, how Laksmi is requested to make use of the “servants lift,” and the way uncomfortable Lexi is when her good friend asks Lakshmi to sit down on the sofa.
The class variations withstanding, the 2 occur to share a quick second of camaraderie, the place Lakshmi (Shaila) turns into an outlet for Lexi to speak about being emotionally deserted by her husband. Despite being othered and excluded, the home assist usually turns into an essential a part of the household they work for, and are within the know in regards to the deepest, darkest secrets and techniques.
In a flip of occasions, nevertheless, the social hierarchy is thrown off steadiness. Lakshmi will get her foot within the door to precise a greater work life — they’re naked minimal requests, like taking interval leaves or sleeping within the AC. Lexi complies reluctantly. It is a contest of energy between the 2 ladies, however one is extra depending on the opposite. After all, the D-day was shut, and shedding out on Lakshmi’s assistance is out of query.
Surkha embodies the classist, vacuous South Bombay socialite completely. There is exactly nothing to love about Lexi, not even when she makes the small reluctant gesture of celebrating Lakshmi’s birthday, and even when she is desperately lonely, and in want for companionship. This characterisation ably holds up a mirror to what’s fallacious in our society.
The Shaila(S), written, directed, and produced by Neha RT, bluntly tackles the problems of caste and sophistication discrimination in Indian society. There’s nothing a lot to learn between the strains. Though some scenes, for the sake of including humour to the narrative, are exaggerated, they’re impactful. The message is blatantly on the market and in your face: we’re a tousled society, snug in sustaining social boundaries.
The Shaila(S) is streaming on Voot Select.