‘Kshay’ is a film about a lonely housewife named Chhaya who comes across an idol of Goddess Lakshmi and is completely enchanted by it. The idol costs 15,000 Indian Rupees and that’s a hefty sum for her husband and her. The film is shot in black and white. I was wondering if there was a psychological reason to this: Psychological disorders are often a result of looking at life through a black and white lens. Of course, we all look at life in a black and white way to some extent. But when we start thinking in extremes and lose track of the grey reality, we harm ourselves and others around us. This film is about how Chhaya’s enchantment with the idol turns into an obsession and how that affects people around her.
Chhaya’s life (before the idol obsession) was simple: All she wanted from life was to become a mother. Unfortunately, she loses her child because of miscarriage. The depression and the loneliness that comes from being alone at home adds to her trauma. Sometimes, she goes along with her husband and hangs out at nearby places to cure her loneliness. At one such instance, she finds a very young idolmaker’s shop and becomes mesmerized by an idol of Goddess Lakshmi. The idol has not been distempered but Chhaya likes its simplicity. She wants the idol for its purity: she doesn’t care about decorations and improvements. For the first time since her traumatic miscarriage, she has a reason to live. She has a goal, a dream. Her husband promises her to buy the idol but he has salary issues at his job. Meanwhile, Chhayya, gets more and more obsessed with Goddess Lakshmi. She starts noticing Lakshmi everywhere: on the bus, at the grocery shop, her neighbor’s necklace, etc. Her brain slowly starts blocking out ANYTHING that is not related to the Goddess to the point that she cannot pay attention to mundane activities or conversations. She even finds one more reason to get that idol: her neighbor’s friend also had a miscarriage but due to her devotion towards Goddess Lakshmi, she is now a mother of a healthy child.
As the film enters the second half, Chhaya’s means to fulfill her dream become unethical. That’s because she is desperate: the longer she waits, the more hands will touch her pure idol. Moreover, someone else can buy it. This is where she crosses the thin line between love and obsession (See my posts about it here and here). Instead of making judgments about how selfish Chhaya is, maybe it would be a better idea to understand the nature of obsession itself.
I have experienced obsession..maybe not as intense as Chhaya’s but strong enough. From my personal experience, we get obsessed when we direct all our desires, all the good things that we expect from life towards one activity or one person. The reason why we do this is fear. Probably, we had bad experiences in the past where our loved ones didn’t treat us the way we expected them to and that made us withdraw from the world. Since we all have a desire to connect with others, we try to reach out. However, we still haven’t forgotten the past and that makes us look at the world as a mean place. We feel that the universe is against us. We zero in on a particular activity or a person and project our ideas of purity onto them. The basic thinking is: the whole world is corrupt but atleast there is something/someone who is stainless and completely incorruptible. This is an idea of perfection, an ideal world where everything is beautiful. But as we all know, nothing is perfect. Eventually, the reality hits us hard. People are not 100 percent pure or perfect. Deep down, the person who is obsessed KNOWS this and that is actually the reason for his obsession. It is an aggressive attempt to hide reality.
The solution is to know that the universe has distributed beauty to all kinds of people and activities. Love or beauty are not exclusive. Moreover, by trying to control others, you end up repelling them.
Kshay succeeds in capturing the nature of obsession to a large extent. Some people have equated Chhaya’s obsession with people’s obsession with money (Goddess Lakshmi symbolizes wealth). That could be one way of looking at the film but IMHO, the object of the obsession doesn’t matter. We must remember that obsession is unhealthy and it could be about anything. Even a spiritual person can be obsessed.
You can watch the film on Youtube: