By Gayatri Everitt Bajpai

Preeti’s world is opulent. A well-to-do husband, expensive jewelry, and lavish parties. But underneath all that beauty, there is rot. Preeti’s husband hurts her. And she has been too afraid to do anything about it.

In some ways, this is a coming-of-age Romantic Dramedy about a middle-aged woman finding herself and her true passion. But there is darkness, too. The film brings elements from the romcom genre and character-driven study. With a daughter to protect, Preeti has made herself small for many years. The light has gone out of her eyes.

What inspired me to tell this story was the characters. Preeti seems the opposite of a rebel. She is polite, dutiful, and warm to her friends and doesn’t stir up trouble. She looks out for her daughter first. She doesn’t want to be cast out of her community or gossiped about. Yet, she becomes someone who does precisely that.

Our film begins in the status quo of Preeti’s world, which we paint with both richness and darkness, leaning into the golds, reds, and jewel tones of Indian celebrations in our production design but finding the colder blue undertones and dark shadows that contrast with this richness in our lighting. Preeti’s world is small. We show her boxed-in by compositions that keep her overshadowed.

But as Preeti struggles to free herself, more and more warmth makes its way into our frame. Her world gets brighter. Camera work becomes more dynamic. The rich colors and textures become liberated from shadows and pop. The lighting warms. It is as if the dark has melted away.

Preeti’s frame starts to breathe. She becomes larger in it, taking up more space. Tentative notes of the jazz-inspired score will erupt into a more frenetic score as her husband engages in a manipulative game to make Preeti a pariah in her social circle. Then, it will string together into something bolder as she finds love with a man who owns a bar. Preeti finds inspiration in her daughter’s freedom.

Our cinematography finds a smooth flow and movement as Preeti laughs with new friends and makes her first sale. It follows her into a world painted in warmer and brighter tones. The euphoria of true love and finding her passion takes over. Preeti steps into the center of our frame for our last image.