Asis Sethi’s short film, A Bloody Mess, comes to me at the most opportune time, and at the risk of my family reading this, I’ll leave it at that. The 10-minute short film examines a conservative family from India and their traditions surrounding menstruation.
Varsha (Maria-Crystal Melo) is a Westernized teenage woman from an immigrant family, and on this particular morning, she has started menstruating, as women her age do. Walking into the kitchen, her mother (Annie Koshy) knows exactly what is happening and insists that Varsha leaves the kitchen immediately, as her mother had just cleaned it. Frustrated by her exile, she heads to the living room where her father (Devanshu Narang) is watching television. When asked what’s wrong, but her mother cuts off Varsha and says she is feeling “sick.” Not to be shut down, Varsha attempts to speak again, but her mother will have nothing of it.
“…insists that she leave the kitchen immediately, as her mother had just cleaned it.”
A Bloody Mess addresses the shame associated with the natural process of menstruation. In the case of Varsha, her family’s culture and religion made talking about it taboo and never to be spoken out loud. Males cannot be told about menstruation, which creates ignorance and misunderstanding on their part. On the other hand, women have no voice and thrust upon themselves self-inflicted shame, which implies they are broken somehow. Because practice is cultural and religious in nature, the cycle of ignorance continues from one generation to the next.
Writer/director Asis Sethi takes the issue head-on with a purpose to expose what her culture (and to some degree ours) keeps hidden. She brings the perfect balance of humor and drama to make her point. She speaks truthfully about the subject while only stepping on a few toes to make her point.
"…addresses the shame associated with the natural process of menstruation."