Jude Anthany Joseph’s Sara’s poses a single question to the audience from the very beginning: Are women mediums of reproduction in the Indian society?
It’s a familiar tale in most households, a twenty-something-year-old is asked to get married. A few months after marriage comes the next question, ‘the good news expectation’. Sara’s evocatively presents Sara (played by Anna Ben), an aspiring filmmaker who is dedicated to her craft and has zero maternal instincts. Eventually, she finds a man, Jeevan (Sunny Wayne), with similar thoughts. They fall in love, get married and as fate has it, she gets pregnant.
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The film delves into the idea of motherhood and selflessness, without didactic preaching and emotional, over-the-top dialogues. It does not advice, but it shows exactly what is expected of women following marriage and the sacrifices they have to make.
Joseph’s film is a light-hearted, satirical take on the age-old institution of marriage, romance and motherhood, which not only entertains but also, addresses all the important questions.
Sex Positive Protagonists in Sara’s
From the moment we meet Sara and Jeevan, their chemistry is obvious. Along with that comes sexual tension and the two of them do not shy away from it. They represent what modern relationships look like: they are open, understanding and expressive of their desires.
There are many occasions in the film where they openly discuss their plans for the future, the need for protection, consent, sex and life after marriage. Unlike most Indian films, it does not shy away from representing the physical aspects of a relationship. For them, love is not only dates and allowing space for professional growth. It is also understanding, sacrifice and healthy, consensual, physical intimacy.
Compassionate Treatment of Motherhood
The film does not fall into the trap of bashing motherhood as a choice. Besides Sara, most of the women in the film are proud mothers. They have chosen it for themselves, and are unapologetic and happy with the lives they lead. It propounds a very simple message, parenthood is for those who seek it. It is not a duty or a responsibility or a social norm. Rather, it is a decision each woman needs to take for herself.
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As the film itself claims, ‘It is better not to be a parent than to be a bad parent’.
A Critique of the Industry
It is ironic that the film takes on the role of a cultural critic and calls attention to the misogyny that women face in the film industry. One of the world’s biggest debates is the discrimination women face in the STEM fields and Sara’s extends the argument to the art industry as well.
Sara’s dream of becoming a director is met with scorn and disbelief at best and contempt at worst. From her mother-in-law, who believes that it is not a job suitable for women, to men who want to use her to producers who undermine her ideas with a smile, it brings out the struggle women go through in their professional, creative lives. It also offers an interesting parallel through Jeevan, a new employee in a company who gets promotions almost immediately.
Agency and Abortion
Despite its lighthearted, romantic comedy tone, it tackles two dangerous, controversial terms in an Indian’s dictionary, agency and abortion.
From the very beginning, the film makes it clear, it is Sara’s story and nobody else’s. She is the sole narrator and we experience all the events as Sara experiences them. The name of the film is an allusion to Sara’s agency to make her choices for herself. She never deters from them. Independent and confident in herself, Sara has a goal she is passionate about. She does not let anything get in her way of achieving it.
The film also calls attention to the legal side of abortion which most women are unaware of. It does not demonise the institution of abortion or glorify it. It offers a fair discussion of when and why it can be done and its implications for the parents making the choice.
Why You Should Watch Sara’s?
Sara’s delivers everything it promises – Light-hearted comedy, beautiful and classy cinematography, an independent, ambitious protagonist, romance, heavier and important discussions on agency, abortion, sex and marriage and a commentary on supportive relationships.
However, the film is far from perfect. Sara’s agency and voice come with the sacrifice of ill-developed supporting characters, who have little to no voice in the film. Also, Sara lives in a little bubble of privilege, with understanding parents, in-laws, a partner who roots for her and enough wealth to follow her dreams without worrying about daily hassles.
Regardless, this is an ode to the women of the future, the growing youth who are critical of parenthood. It celebrates and empowers them, giving them an identity beyond somebody’s ‘mother’ or ‘father’.