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Sulige Sikkidaaga (“Be Fluid as Water”) is low budget Indian film that uses a Sliding Doors-style narrative to send an empowering message. With a touch of Bollywood flair in the form of dance and song, we follow Pallavi’s juxtaposed journey through life and discover the difference loving support and acceptance can make in one’s challenging life.

Pallavi is a hard-working and beautiful young woman with epilepsy. She captures the interest of a young man, and soon their marriage is arranged. When both families first meet each other, Pallavi’s mother tries to disclose her daughter’s serious health condition, but the groom’s side keeps cutting her off to toast the joyful occasion. All is well until Pallavi experiences a seizure in front of her new family. In all the wedding excitement, she forgot to take her medication. Their reaction is appalling. They are disgusted by her illness and feel cheated by this scam of a marriage. Her husband beats her and casts her out of his house.

They are disgusted by her illness and feel cheated by this scam…”

This is where Pallavi’s journey splits in two. Side-by-side screens reveal two different reactions from her mother. In one, she chastizes Pallavi and instructs her to go back to her husband before bringing shame upon the family. The second path is one of compassion. Pallavi’s mother is loving and supportive. She encourages her daughter to be strong and persevere.

Pallavi’s strength becomes literal when she masters martial arts and becomes a successful competitor. She excels in life, controls her destiny and can take care of herself. Without that kind of support, her downtrodden doppelganger returns to her abusive husband and leads a miserable life of submission, fear, and torment.

“…PSA for women’s empowerment and epilepsy awareness.”

The meaning behind Sulige Sikkidaaga is higher than the film itself. Women remain repressed in so many cultures, even in America. It is tough to break away from the restraints that have shackled women for generations. Men and old-country mentalities can be incredibly overbearing. When a woman’s baseline already starts as less-than, you can imagine how much harder it is for a woman with other kinds of personal challenges. It takes great strength, courage, and support to stand up for oneself.

This film could serve as an after-school special or PSA for women’s empowerment and epilepsy awareness. Pallavi is relatable in many ways, and her parallel journeys serve as a vital warning to young women. All women are worthy of respect, and they should never settle for less.

Sulige Sikkidaaga (2015) Directed by Sundeep Malani. Written by Scott Barker. Starring Kalpana Pandit, Vivek Punjabi, Lalitha Rajagopal, Clement Sequeira, Akash Hora, and Cliff Janke.

6.5 out of 10 stars

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