Yeh Freedom Life


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Yeh Freedom Life
"There's a good sense of place but the stories chop between the two women and their friend and family circle with little structure." | Photo: Courtesy of Open City Documetary Festival

Priya Sen dives into a working class neighbourhood in New Delhi for her feature debut, which puts the spotlight on two women trying to negotiate the cultural and personal implications of being in a single-sex relationship.

Sen shows the emphasis on heterosexuality in Indian cultural life from the start, capturing women attending a "Perfect Health Mela", which hands features kids' shows and healthcare guidance - stressing the dangers of complete fasting - as well as providing each pregnant woman with a baby shower goody bag. Same-sex relationships were only decriminalised last year in the country and its evident that away from the legal system familial expectations for women are marriage and children.

The documentary focuses on Sachi, a woman who works in a beauty parlour, and Parveen, who runs her family's tobacco kiosk. Sachi is in love with Sai but under pressure from her family to marry. Similarly, we learn that Parveen has had a series of same-sex relationships that have frequently ended in the other woman getting married. Sen develops a good rapport with the women in the film - whom she followed for a year - but it remains frustratingly light on context.

The only indication of the situation is what is captured on camera, giving you the urge to be able to stop the film and read around the subject before going back to it - not ideal for a documentary that wants to reach more than a domestic audience. There's a good sense of place but the stories chop between the two women and their friend and family circle with little structure, making the stories sometimes hard to follow. What the women have to say is important but the lack of background information makes it difficult to connect the dots.

Reviewed on: 03 Sep 2019
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Documentary following the difficulties faced by women in lesbian relationships in India.

Director: Priya Sen

Year: 2019

Runtime: 69 minutes

Country: India


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