NRI Pulse

Movie Review

Yes Papa: Hard-hitting film on scars of child abuse

By Arnab Banerjee

The severity of the emotional trauma experienced by any victim of physical or emotional abuse is so heinous and ghastly a crime perpetrated by the sinner that unless one scratches the outer layer of the victim’s psyche, one never gets to know the brutality or the cruelty.

In dealing particularly with a sex crime, there are several ramifications that overrule and throw out several fundamental causes and leave a permanent impression on the victim. For one, incest continues to be a taboo subject and interferes with any wounded sufferer’s mental health some of which lead to numerous personality disorders.

Child abuse or incest is not a subject often discussed and deliberated upon both either public or within the narrow confines of our secure homes. And since it is such an offensive and unmentionable issue that it’s considered forbidden.

Understandably, cinema, too, though it reflects and mirrors society and its ills, stays away from an authentic depiction of such a crime being committed in homes. According to statistics provided by NCRB, 1.62 lakh cases of crime against children were registered during 2022, an increase of 8.7 per cent over 2021 when more than 1.49 lakh cases were registered. And we are all aware that nearly 80 per cent of such crimes are not even reported.

It’s therefore a welcome relief that a truly terrifying and tragic drama on celluloid ‘Yes Papa’ has gotten a theatrical release.

Saif Hyder Hasan, a playwright, theatre director and producer who started his career as a journalist and copywriter, and has to his credit several noteworthy theatre productions, such as, “Ek Mulaqat 2014”, and “Gardish Mein Taare”, makes his directorial debut with this 85-minute feature film.

The film is about a young woman Vinita (Geetika Tyagi) being tried in the court of law for the murder of her father. The story is then narrated through the eyes of a girl who is sexually abused by her biological father.

For a child to even realise that a father could go to the extent of raping his daughter is unthinkable; in fact, a child does not even know the difference between right and wrong.

And that’s the reason why she doesn’t see anything wicked or immoral about his ‘touch’. When she explains her lack of courage to protest in court while she is being tried for his murder is appalling. As an innocent child, she had all along known that, perhaps, all fathers behave the same way with their daughters.

Another shocking fact that comes to light is the silence, or rather, the tacit involvement of the girl’s mother (Nandita Puri) who, despite knowing the truth, remains tongue-tied.

Vinita grew up with her mother as her parents were divorced. The incident later makes her disturbed and that affects her marital relationship with her husband Harshit Kapoor (Hasan Zaidi) who finds her ‘frigid’ and is incapable of giving him conjugal bliss.

The narrative moves more like a blurred incident revealing horrendous details of a girl’s traumatic childhood, and so, the tone used is illusory with chunks of scenes used as flashbacks.

What also comes to the fore is the father’s (Sagni Ghoshal) apparent respectability in society. He is a man of taste who enjoys singing and listening to ghazals from Hindi films.

The nightmarish incident is not in the least a romanticised vision of incest, and helps the talented bunch of actors have an “enlightened” approach to their complicated roles. Jump cuts and crisp editing by Abhijeet Deshpande helps in comprehending the complexities of her character that is torn, anxious and unsure.

Hasan has made a debut with this well-acted, uncompromisingly depressing drama about a middle-class family torn apart by incest and abuse. He chronicles a painful journey through a dysfunctional family’s past to unravel a vicious circle of abuse, incest and molestation, and their devastating effects on three generations. Mahadevan turns in a teeth-gnashing performance that has a veneer so innocuous that its evil seems too pure to be real.

For him to show just enough of these incestuous moments to spark outrage, but never sink to cheap sensationalism speaks volumes about his sense of commitment towards his sensitive approach to such a rare topic with so much thoughtfulness and compassion.

Film: Yes Papa Duration: 85 minutes

Director: Saif Hyder Hasan Cast: Geetika Tyagi, Ananth Mahadevan, Divya Seth, Nandita Puri and Tejaswini Kolhapure

Cinematography: Vineet Dubey, Chetan Chand and Tanha Fermin Rezi

Playing in cinemas.

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