Through movies we learn about things that happen in far away places that we would never know about otherwise. One such movie is WIDOW OF SILENCE, which opened virtually this week.
WIDOW OF SILENCE tells the story of Aasia, a woman in Kashmir (an area in the northern part of India) who must fight bureaucracy as she attempts to get a death certificate for her husband, who has been missing for seven years. She needs that certificate to gain title to her family’s land and to have something to pass down to her daughter. Instead of help, she receives pressure to sell her property for cheap and must withstand sexual harassment and other types of public humiliation.
The movie, directed by Praveen Morchhale, is based on the real life experiences of multiple Kashmiri women. They are called “half-widows” because their husbands are taken away (usually by the powers constantly at odds in this volatile area) to not return, but they’re never officially declared dead. That brings all sorts of economic and personal hassles to these women.
There are only two professional actors in this film – Delhi film and theater actress Shilpi Marwaha is Aasia, and Ajay Chourey is the corrupt Registrar. The rest of the cast is made up of local people, which gives authenticity to the film. Bilal Ahmad, who plays a most charismatic taxi driver in the movie, is also a taxi driver in real life, for example.
WIDOW OF SILENCE is 86 minutes long, in Urdu with English subtitles. While its development feels a bit slow, know that your patience will be completely compensated by an altogether unexpected ending.