Natkhat: a short film breaking down the notion of ‘boys will be boys’
I’m sure all of us have heard the phrase ‘boys will be boys’ at least once, whether on our television screens, internet, advertisements or in reality. This notion has been around for a very long time. But as normal and casual as it may seem; it is highly problematic. Shaan Vyas’s short film ‘Natkhat’ breaks down this notion along with the themes of everyday misogyny and oppression towards women starring Vidya Balan as Surekha and Sanika Patel as Sonu. The film follows the format of an embedded narrative.
The film commences on an unpleasant note, it features a group of boys talking about abducting girls and taking them to the jungle in order to “Teach them a lesson”. This conversation is overheard by a naïve Sonu. Then, Sonu along with his classmates followed everything the latter heard from the boys. In the following scene, Sonu’s mother, Surekha (Vidya Balan) is introduced, a soft-spoken, loving mother, unaware of everything her son was getting involved in and learning from outside. His ‘learnings’ were disclosed to her the same night at the dinner table.
It all started when Sonu indulged in a conversation with his grandfather and uncle when they were talking about a woman. Sonu jumps into the conversation and suggests “Teach a lesson” to the woman they were referring to. While his father is agitated by Sonu’s suggestion, his action is dismissed by the grandfather who then proceeds to imply the notion of ‘boys will be boys’. It is Surekha who is shaken by her child’s words.
It is then, she decides to change his perspective through a story narration. While she does this, the viewer also gets to know that Surekha too is a victim of abuse, she covers up her scars every morning but as the story progresses, she decides to show Sonu her scars. Seeing a new scar every day on his mother’s face, Sonu enquires about them to which Surekha would reply that it is a consequence of him being ‘naughty’. As Surekha’s bedtime story proceeds, we see Sonu learning new things from outside and executing them. His actions cease when he witnesses his mother getting abused by his father. He realizes what he has been doing. In fact, he goes on to change his ways, the next day, he tries to stop his friends from troubling a group of girls.
Natkhat shows the abuse women face, it seems like a story that has already been told while also steering away from the norm and the already known. It represents the abuse women have faced and are still facing, from generation to generation. It talks about how even the wrong doings of men/boys are casually justified by notions like ‘boys will be boys’. It sheds light on girls/women being victims of rage from men. The short film has many accolades to its name and premiered on Youtube as a part of the We are One: A Global Film Festival in 2020. It is currently streaming on Voot Select.
This short film definitely deserves a spot on your ‘must-watch’ list for how beautifully it calls out the misogyny and beliefs of ‘boys will be boys’ and portrays that while learning begins at home, wrong behavior must be called out.
-By Aadya Punj