“A tender, if brittle, introspection about the (un)conditionality of filial love and its unsanitised articulation.”
— Ishita Sengupta, Indian Express
In this intimate and often funny observational portrait, director Archana Phadke trains her camera on three generations of her own family, who live and work together in South Mumbai.
The director here does not open her heart to us but does something even more private. She unlatches the doors of her house, takes us to all the rooms, and entreats us to stay and witness.
As the family prepares for her brother Rohan’s wedding, Archana – who clearly isn’t herself in any hurry to get hitched – observes the shifting, and frequently unintentionally comic, household dynamics. Archana has a knack for cutting through the noise to focus on the feelings below the surface.
Her mother, Maneesha, confesses a secret escape from her own feelings of marital frustration; her long-suffering grandmother, Neela, tends to her ailing, sexist husband.
Indian tradition insists women marry young and move into their new husband’s family home to cook, clean and raise children. A sense of regret resonates through Maneesha and Neela. Their affection for their husbands is real, but doesn’t detract from the idea that, for these women, love is as much about duty as emotion.
“Archana has a knack for holding her gaze
as quiet, unassuming moments
turn into something far more poignant.”
— Nikki Baughan, Screen Daily
Constant bickering and low-level tensions characterise this close-knit family. What ultimately emerges is the difficult, second-fiddle role women are called on to play to their entitled, self-absorbed husbands — who seem much less enlightened than their wives.
Director Archana was a producer and editor on Raghu Rai, An Unframed Portrait, which played Doc Edge Festival in 2018. One of the strengths of About Love is the casual familiarity with which this caustic comedy is shot, something perhaps only possible among family.
Previous festival selections include:
Sheffield Doc|Fest: winner, New Talent Award
Busan International Film Festival
DMZ Docs: winner, Best Film – Asian Perspective Award