By Sarabjeet Singh Arora
Imagine bleeding from where you urinate and not knowing why you’re bleeding. Imagine thinking you have cancer. Imagine wanting to hide it from your parents because you don’t want to hurt them. And then imagine finding out that this is a natural course of life for women…but not being able to talk about it openly within your own family, within your own home.
A Bloody Mess is inspired by one too many real-life stories of women who talk about being a young, scared girl who didn’t know what was happening when they first got their periods. Even today, they struggle with opening up about cramps, leg pain, back pain, and everything else that can accompany the monthly visitor.
Director Asis Sethi set out to write a script that would show just how over-the-top we have gone with the dealing of an everyday, routine matter – menstruation. A heartfelt story, she wanted to depict characters that exaggerated their ideas and beliefs, to really capitalize on just how ridiculous such a notion of hiding your period actually is.
“When peeling back the layers of hyperbole, what you are left with is the simple notion of menstruation. And people watching this film will realize, hopefully, that it is just a period so why is the mother reacting this way? But that’s exactly it.
That’s the point. It’s just a period, so why do we still whisper about it? Why do we say our monthly visitor is here? Why do we say it is that time of the month? And in family settings, why do we say we don’t feel well? Being on your period is not the same as being sick,” says Asis Sethi.
A Bloody Mess came together with lead actors who spent weeks with the director, understanding the idea and vision that she wanted to bring forward. Varsha, played by Maria Crystal-Melo, struggles to normalize conversations about menstruation within her conservative South Asian family while battling against her mother’s first traditional beliefs.
Her mother, Aarti, is played by Annie Koshy, who is a devoted family woman. Her husband and children are her pride and joy but things must be done the way they have always been done. After all, traditional and personal beliefs have to be followed by every generation in order to maintain an equilibrium in life.
And Varsha’s father, Sanjay, is played by Devanshu Narang. Sanjay is a busy man and while he tries to keep up with his family, his work keeps him occupied. He loves his children immensely but does not always find the right ways to communicate with them. Feelings aside though, he firmly believes men should be men and women should be women.
With a team of strong females working in the background of the film, notably Daisy Kaur, Amreen Ghouse, Shwayta Sharma, and Armin Sethi, the film came together authentically. Each woman working behind-the-scenes of the film had a story to share about menstruation, and a ring of familiarity hit home.
That familiarity of secrecy and keeping things under wraps. No matter how progressive the world became, somehow, menstruation was not something to be mentioned out loud. The Director of Photography, Daniel Everitt-Lock, carried through Asis Sethi’s vision, with a detail to capturing the true essence of each character, with each nuance being captured by beautiful moments.
As the journey begins for A Bloody Mess, the director, Asis Sethi, urges everyone to join in on the conversation.
As an avid fan of good films and good scripts, this one I’ll recommend for all. One, for the soul of the film. And second, for the soul of the director of the film.