Eye For Film >> Movies >> Goddess (2017) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
It begins with a fight. Violence, anger, vicious name calling. Tara (Aditi Vasudev) is left bruised but unbroken, fortified by her sense of righteousness. But it's one thing to stand up for one's own rights, fortified by the courage of youth. What happens when somebody else's are at stake?
Tara's mother, Lata (Tanvi Azmi), is unimpressed by her daughter's exploits, and especially by the bruise she has acquired on her cheek, which turns red like a smudge of lipstick. We get the impression that it's not the first time Tara has been in trouble, that Lata perceives this as rebellion for the sake of it as much as anything else, and that she's afraid of what could happen to her daughter as a result. Indeed, Devi (Priyanka Bose), the maid who has helped raise her, tells Tara as much, trying to explain that her mother is not being unreasonable.
The trouble is, all closeness between Tara and Devi has become complicated. Late at night when they're leaning out of a window whilst Devi smokes a cigarette, it's obvious that something between them has changed. Then one afternoon in the kitchen when Devi is working, Tara abruptly kisses her, and Devi kisses back.
Is it a moment of romantic triumph, a glorious breaking of boundaries? It's easy, from a Western perspective, to see it that way. But has Devi considered the import of interacting like this with someone who, as Lata later puts it, has been like her own child? And has Tara considered the far more serious consequences that Devi faces if they are caught - as a servant and as a member of a lower caste? Is she so focused on rebellious acts that she can't see how the weight of tradition affects the whole family?
A thoughtful film which places the yearning for individual freedom into the context of a world in which people are interdependent, Goddess takes a gentle approach to asking difficult questions. The three women, living in a country where their lives are defined by men but there's no apparent man around to look after them, all have difficult decision s to make, balancing their instinctive desires and concerns with the pragmatism necessary to survive. There is a sense that Tara is just waking up to hard truths which the others have known all along, whilst lashing out from a position of unrecognised privilege.
Azmi is a standout as the mother trying to balance the desire to set boundaries with her instinct to put Tara's wishes first. The story is simple but its import is a great deal more complex.Reviewed on: 26 Jul 2018