As we log in to our twitter accounts only to see yet another #MeToo allegation, the threat of getting sensitized to the idea of violence is just as great as the movement actually working out. While some might, quite correctly express the injustice of having entire creative teams punished by scrapping films and shows for the sake of a single person, Light in the Room explains just how grave the matter is; because much like Sudha, many women who’ve cried for help have only met with pity and the nonchalance of a “it’s perfectly normal for this to happen with a married woman”.
Light in the room by Rhul Riji Nair explores two major themes — marital rape and taking the law in your hands when there seems to be no other option left. Sudha is newly married to Chandran, a short-tempered, abusive husband, no different than the men who’ve preceded him as the head of the family (as casually pointed out by Sudha’s mother-in-law). Soon, Chandran’s repeated and inescapable violence leads Sudha to contemplate different ways to murder him and act upon them; only to disappointingly watch Chandran get saved in the nick of time. As much as we, as viewers share the hatred towards Chandran, a question that indefinitely arises is whether murder is justified for the sake of justice. Interestingly, we are answered, as the fury of nature (the storm) and the fury of Chandran’s nature (him deciding to refuse Sudha’s help when she offered it) disastrously clash and result in his death.
The light in the room itself perfectly encapsulates Sudha’s plight. It is harsh and denies her rest and privacy. It changes colours most unexpectedly, not unlike Chandran’s violent outbursts. Most of all it can’t be switched off like the situation she is trapped in. Ironically the light is the symbol of hopelessness and suffocation. Though it is celebrated as Chandran’s greatest invention, the brilliant albeit, brutal husband of Sudha, we are constantly reminded of his own ‘unblinking’ maleficence.
The protagonist is by far the simplest and least problematic character and yet, we see a completely different person by the end of it. Eager to begin a life that would be her own, the film starts with her delightfully exploring the picturesque hilltop village of tea plantations. Soon disillusioned, her inner psychological trauma kills her child-like innocence (this is unnecessarily explained in the form of two songs that describe what we already can see through the protagonist’s expressions).
With the sub-plot of trapping the hog that threatens to ruin the tapioca plantations being resolved with the death of Chandran, the climax is satisfying but is also followed by a scene that though possibly eerie, tells us about how the wounds of trauma have given Sudha a strength unknown to her until now. She is no longer the product of her circumstances but that of her decisions.