Coincidentally, Justice Chandrachud was one of the members of the five-judge bench that passed the historic judgment of allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala. In the film, the topics of menstruation and the Sabarimala verdict, besides other issues, form the crux of the story.
During the launch event of Community for the Eradication of Discrimination in Education and Employment (CEDE), Justice Chandrachud referred to the film in his speech on the topic ‘Why Representation Matters. Founded by a group of lawyers, CEDE is a network of lawyers, law firms, judges, and other organisations and individuals, who are committed to reforming the legal profession.
Directed by Jeo Baby, The Great Indian Kitchen stars Nimisha Sajayan and Suraj Venjaramoodu in lead roles. It premiered on streaming platform Neestream in January and later released on Amazon Prime Video.
Justice Chandrachud said that he recently watched the film which was nominated for the Shanghai International Film Festival.
“The movie was situated in modern Kerala, where a newlywed bride was adjusting to her husband’s household. In the latter half of the movie, some men are shown to be preparing for their pilgrimage. The film charted out the compounding indignities that the bride faced in unpaid and thankless labour that was exerted in domestic chores and cooking. The denial of her ambitions to work a job of her choice, and finally, the harsh isolation and associated untouchability when menstruating,” he said.
Talking about the film’s reference to the landmark Sabarimala verdict, he said. “The movie poignantly engaged with the news of the Supreme Court judgment and juxtaposed it with the lived reality of this woman who was not asserting the right to go on the pilgrimage but was fighting a much deeper battle as her existence was diminished by her gender. This is a stark reminder for how mere legislative or judicial intervention does not automatically upend the inequities that are entrenched in our society.”
On September 28, 2018, in a majority opinion of 4:1, the Supreme Court headed by the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, lifted the ban on women from the age of menarche to menopause to enter Lord Ayyappa’s temple at Sabarimala and stated that denying the entry to the temple was unconstitutional. While Justice Indu Malhotra dissented, Justice Chandrachud was among the four others in favour of women’s entry into the shrine.
Supporting the verdict, Women in Cinema Collective, an organisation for women working in the Malayalam film industry, said that it “stands by the Constitution” and “supports all initiatives that acknowledge the dignity of women”. While the controversial verdict has been opposed by many, several celebrities like Aditi Balan, Chinmayi welcomed the judgement.