Devi is streaming on YouTube.
Set in a single room occupied by many women, Devi is the story of perseverance. The film opens with a few women who seemingly belong to different worlds but are all stuck in the same room - but why? The story unravels in the next 13 minutes as we get to know the trauma that they have suffered.
Written and directed by Priyanka Banerjee, Devi is an empathetic attempt to show that no matter the age, caste, religion and class, female rape victims are all stuck in the same purgatory. Be it the God-fearing woman (Kajol), or the deaf-dumb girl (Yashaswini Dayama), or even an older lady (Neena Kulkarni) - these women are different from each other but suffer the same fate. As they watch the news on television, they learn that their little room will have more occupants with each passing day.
Watch the short film Devi here:
As we meet characters played by Neha Dhupia and Shruti Haasan, and even a medical school student, played by Shivani Raghuvanshi, it is further established that no two rape victims have anything in common. They all come from different worlds but to men, they are nothing but prey.
Priyanka Banerjee has tried to tell an effective story in a span of 13 minutes, and she hits hard towards the end as we see a little girl walk into the room. Given the state of women's safety in the country, the subject is strong but the execution, not so much. The first few minutes are surely intriguing, but as each character starts opening up about their trauma, you know what's coming next.
When you consider the barrage of rape cases that are reported in the media every day and the fear that resides in every woman, Devi makes you feel even more helpless. Kajol talking about "adjustment" and how women adjust while they are alive, and they might as well do that in death further makes you realise that the desperation to break out of the vicious cycle is never going to be met with success.
The film's purgatory is suggestive of the 1,00,000 pending rape cases in Indian courts. The end slate talks about the irony of worshipping Goddesses in a country where crimes against women have only gone up in the last few years.
Devi leaves you feeling sorry for the state of women in India.