Hidden Bonds: Maid In Mumbai Reveals The Unexpected Connection Beyond Business

Hidden Bonds: Maid In Mumbai Reveals The Unexpected Connection Beyond Business

The relationship with your maid is not just a monetary arrangement, in some cases it transcends business

Yogesh PawarUpdated: Saturday, May 04, 2024, 11:10 PM IST
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Naach Ga Ghuma |

The adage, “Behind every successful man is a woman, and behind every successful woman is a kamwali bai,” may be more relevant in today's world considering the essential role that domestic help plays in the family and home setting. Notwithstanding their disagreements and bickering, both sides depend on one another.

Naach Ga Ghuma (NGG) which released on May 1st follows one such lively duo at the core of every household — the woman of the house and the house-help. This humorous bitter-sweet take explores their love-hate relationship, which not only governs the house but also impacts the surrounding environment through their antics.

While films have occasionally zoomed in on the help in the past too — Teen Batti Char Rasta (1953), Arth (1982), Tarang (1984) and more recently Sir (2018) and The Mirror (2023) not many have looked at the Tom-and-Jerry side of the relationship.

Director Paresh Mokashi spoke of NGG’s gender lens which highlights the positive, symbiotic nature of the relationship between the women. “We’ve woven many minute details related to women in the script to ensure uniqueness of womanhood is projected subtly. The story has accurately woven witty and daily life incidents in the screenplay to ensure entertainment, while consciously upholding dignity and humanity of the women involved as they negotiate life’s maze of merit and emotions,” he added.

Pramila Advirkar heads the Mazgaon, Mumbai, based National Domestic Workers' Movement, which promotes the rights of migrant domestic workers, children employed in domestic labour, and domestic workers since 1985. She said she has heard of NGG and will definitely go watch. “Most films and TV serials make us suffering silent victims or gossip mongers and petty thieves,” she lamented and added, “It will be nice to go and watch a film where we are treated like other normal people.” Malti Shinde, her fellow office bearer felt that Namrata Sambherao is the reason most will go watch the film. “Her antics in Maharashtrachi Haasya Jatra (MHJ) leave us rolling in laughter as we watch it on our phone while commuting to work or between jobs.”

Namrata Sambherao (a household name thanks to MHJ) who played a smaller role in Mokashi’s dark comedy Vaalvi (2023) is thrilled that people are looking forward to NGG. “I was thrilled the moment Mokashi approached me to play the lead. Unlike the 15-20 minutes we get in a skit here one gets a lot more time and bandwidth to live a character,” she said while praising Mukta Barve, Sukanya Mone, Supriya Pathare, Madhugandha Kulkarni, and Sharmistha Raut — her co-stars in the caper. “This film also made me understand how I can afford to be a Maharani (Queen) in the world outside only because I have a Pari Rani (Fairy Queen) who helps me keep home while away.”

Need of domestic workers is growing thanks to nuclearisation of families, and increase in working women in the metropolitan region. While Maharashtra Domestic Workers’ Welfare Board figures say there are 15 lakh such women domestic help in Maharashtra, they are employed by 40–50 lakh families, mostly in metropolitan regions like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, and Nashik. Those in the know like Advirkar say the government’s figures are conservative.

Madhugandha Kulkarni who has co-written NGG said, “While ensuring that entertainment quotient is not lost we have tried to humanise both the help and her woman employer.” 

Advirkar hopes that the reel-life characters will draw attention to domestic workers’ long-standing issues.

Under the terms of a similar Act that was adopted in 2008, the Maharashtra Domestic Workers Welfare Board was established in 2011. It was tasked with registering all domestic workers with the state and thereafter investigating their wellbeing. The Act's sections cover maternity benefits, financial support for dependent children, and aid in the event of an accident. The ground reality, however, is starkly different.

Since registration necessitates an employer letter, it takes months. Since not everyone is eager to give their name and address for official records, obtaining letters is difficult. Additionally, every woman domestic worker works at many houses at once. Advirkar estimates that women make up nearly all the domestic workers in Maharashtra, with 60% of them being single moms. “Most left violent marriages where their jobless husbands were drunks or drug addicts.”

She feels NGG will bring hope to such women.

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