Krishna (Jeewan Adhikary) is visiting his friend Amrit (Atanu Chhetri) in a small village in Nepal. Telling a story about needing help to care for his pregnant sister (Tillotama Shome) back in the city, he convinces Amrit, with a fair amount of cash, to allow him to take Amrit’s young sister Bhumika (Albina Dahal) back to the city to be a housemaid. Amrit and Bhumika’s Mother (Kabita Ale) protests, but the decision has been made, and anyway Bhumika cannot wait to see the big city.
And at first, the adventure is a grand one. It’s Bhumika’s first time on a bus, and when she gets to town Krishna immediately takes her to buy a nice dress (though the color he chooses is forbidden, as she is not married yet, Bhumika does it anyway). After a night where the two are forced to share a one-bed hotel room, the two set out again, only not to Krishna’s home. Suddenly, Krishna is taking Bhumika to India, and though Bhumika is becoming more and more reluctant, she still goes along with it all, trusting that Krishna would never steer her wrong. Unfortunately, Krishna has a hidden agenda, one that becomes clear when they arrive in the red light district of Mumbai.
Sahasi Chori (Brave Girl) may be one of the more beautiful looking films I’ve ever seen that left me terribly depressed by its end credits. It’s matter-of-fact and unassuming in its narrative, yet anyone with an ounce of cynicism would be second-guessing things the second Krishna starts deviating from the things he originally mentioned. Of course, Bhumika is from a small village where this sort of dishonesty is not common, and she is easily duped.
It’s an emotional hit, when the true situation is revealed, and we realize how truly doomed Bhumika is, now in an entirely new country and at the mercy of some truly unsavory characters and situations; heartbreaking and anger-inducing all at the same time. Part of me was waiting for some miracle ending that would turn everything around; that salvation was just a story beat away. Unfortunately, that’s not this story and, by the appearance of the end credits, we’re left with the most horrible of possible outcomes. Which, unfortunately, makes the film more realistic… which makes me even angrier.
Filmmaker Erin Galey’s Sahasi Chori (Brave Girl) is a great short film that is challenging to go through, even if you don’t notice the amount of emotional investment and engagement until it wraps up and you realize how devastated you are. Which is to be applauded; the film gets under your skin without you knowing, and the impact lasts. I just wish that impact was a positive one.