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REVIEW: Yes Papa

A disturbing, hard-hitting film on the life-long scars of child abuse

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

That Hindi film Yes Papa, a truly terrifying and tragic drama, has gotten a theatrical release is a matter of some relief.

Child abuse or incest is not a subject often discussed and deliberated upon both either in public, or even within the narrow confines of our secure homes.

AT A GLANCE

Film: Yes Papa

Duration: 85 minutes

Director: Saif Hyder Hasan

Starring: Geetika Tyagi, Ananth Mahadevan, Divya Seth, Nandita Puri and Tejaswini Kolhapure

Cinematography: Vineet Dubey, Chetan Chand and Tanha Fermin Rezi

Rating: ***

Understandably, cinema, too, though it reflects and mirrors society and its ills, stays away from an authentic depiction of such a crime being committed in homes. According to statistics provided by India’s National Crime Records Bureau, 162000 cases of crime against children were registered during 2022, an increase of 8.7 per cent over 2021 when more than 149000 lakh cases were registered. And we are all aware that nearly 80 per cent of such crimes are not even reported.

Saif Hyder Hasan, a playwright, theatre director and producer who started his career as a journalist and copywriter, and has to his credit several noteworthy theatre productions such as, Ek Mulaqat 2014, and Gardish Mein Taare, makes his directorial debut with this 85-minute feature film.

The film is about a young woman Vinita (Geetika Tyagi) being tried in a court of law for the murder of her father. The story is then narrated through the eyes of a girl who is sexually abused by her biological father.

Yes Papa hindi film poster

Vinita had no way of knowing that there was anything wicked or immoral about her father’s ‘touch’. As an innocent child, all she had known was that, perhaps, all fathers behave this way with their daughters.

This came to light in court as Vinita explained the ghastly crime committed against her. Equally appalling, was the tacit involvement of her mother (Nandita Puri) who, despite knowing the truth, remained tongue-tied.

Vinita grew up with her mother as her parents were divorced. This history affected her at very deep level, impacting her relationship with her husband Harshit Kapoor (Hasan Zaidi).

The story moves like a blurred incident revealing horrendous details of a girl’s traumatic childhood, and so, the tone used is illusory – with chunks of scenes used as flashbacks.

What also comes to the fore is the father’s (Ananth Mahadevan) apparent respectability in society. He is a man of taste who enjoys singing and listening to ghazals from Hindi films.

The nightmarish incidents in Yes Papa are not in the least a romanticised vision of incest and helps the talented bunch of actors adopt an “enlightened” approach to their complicated roles. Jump cuts and crisp editing by Abhijeet Deshpande help in comprehending the complexities of Vinita’s character – torn, anxious and unsure.

Hasan has made a debut with this well-acted, uncompromisingly depressing drama about a middle-class family torn apart by incest and abuse. He chronicles a painful journey through a dysfunctional family’s past to unravel a vicious circle of abuse, incest and molestation, and their devastating effects on three generations.

Mahadevan turns in a teeth-gnashing performance that has a veneer so innocuous that its evil seems too pure to be real.

For him to show just enough of these incestuous moments to spark outrage, but never sink to cheap sensationalism speaks volumes about his sense of commitment towards his sensitive approach to such a rare topic with so much thoughtfulness and compassion.

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