The musical short discusses physical and emotional changes that women encounter, especially during menopause
Mood swings, depression, insomnia, hot flash, memory issues… many women past 40 have experienced all or one of these symptoms. With menopause still a few years away, getting through the perimenopause or pre-menopause phase can make life hard for some women once they cross 40.
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W@40, a musical short film conceptualised and directed by Smitha Sathish, looks at this phase, which several women, if not all, have to deal with. The 12-minute film moves through the lives of women from different walks of life. “Even as they deal with physical changes and emotional turmoil due to hormonal imbalance, they feel helpless, especially when their families, fail to understand them,” says Smitha.
Smitha, a former member of the Juvenile Justice Board, a counselling psychologist, social worker and motivational trainer, has taken instances from her personal life and of people that she has interacted with for the film.
Early this year, she had made a short film, Hot Flash, which was about a homemaker in her 40s who has hot flash [a sudden feeling of heat followed by severe sweating], one of the symptoms of perimenopause/menopause. Becoming irritable, getting angry or crying for no reason, feeling neglected…the character goes through an emotional roller-coaster until her doctor and psychologist come to her help. “The body goes through a sea of changes. There might be irregular periods or heavy bleeding, for instance. Many viewers could relate to her and after reading some of the reactions, I felt that I should do something more on this topic. That’s how W@40 was conceptualised,” says Smitha, 43.
While Smitha acts as a photographer, other actors are first-timers from various professions. Real-life families have been featured in the film, which has lyrics and music by Kiran Krishnan. Dr Aswathi Jayaraj has sung the track.
Knowing the symptoms
She brought in an array of characters to highlight common symptoms. “A question, ‘Are you okay?’ can make them feel better. But the problem is these women themselves fail to understand why they are having a tough time. The family members also are clueless about their mood swings or changes in behaviour,” she says.
Awareness can go a long way in supporting such women. “People are now discussing postpartum depression. It is high time that we talk about pre-menopause or menopause as well. Doctors prescribe hormone treatment in some cases. A healthy lifestyle can make a world of difference. Following one’s passion or doing something creative can also help. But what is more important is that family and friends should stand by them and lend an ear to their problems,” adds Smitha.
Smitha’s first short film was Diya, which looked at the “secondary victims” of sexual harassment, and Pulimittayi, a work about letting children follow their passion.
W@40 is available on YouTube.