Kavya Madhavan on playing the role of an abused maid in upcoming film Gadhama, how the story touched her and why she hopes it will make a difference.
Widespread abuse of housemaids by their employers or agents in many Gulf countries has hit headlines in the media often. Now, a soon-to-be released south Indian film, in which a group of Emiratis and Arab expatriates have acted, will take the real-life story of an Indian maid tortured in Saudi Arabia to the silver screen.
Leading lady of Malayalam cinema Kavya Madhavan plays the role of the abused maid in the movie Gadhama, which was mostly filmed in the UAE. The original story of Gadhama, which is a colloquial version of Arabic word for servant Khadima, was written by a Saudi-based Malayali journalist K.U. Iqbal. The miserable saga of the domestic help inspired noted director Kamal when he read Iqbal’s article in a Malayalam weekly. K. Gireeshkumar has written the script for the movie in which award-winning actor Sreenivasan plays the role of a social worker who strives to help expat workers, and this maid, whose rights are violated in a migrant country.
“When I heard the story from Kamal and got to know that it had really happened in the life of a woman from our homeland, I was really moved. She is no more now. But I felt her story could be an eye-opener for many,” Kavya told .
Gadhama portrays how poor Asian women fly to oil-rich Gulf countries, which are heavily reliant on foreign labour, to make ends meet back home. Though reported abuse faced once they land in the houses of some employers has come down of late due to strict implementation of laws by governments, the cases of maids getting abused or tortured are still emerging from different countries.
“The film tells the real story of many lives in the Gulf. When many women come back home from here, we see them spending money lavishly. You get the perception that they are doing well-off here. But, it’s not true in many cases. Apart from exposing the abuse on domestic servants, this film also shows you the two-faced life that many expatriates lead,” she said.
Kamal gave the touch of originality to the plot by casting a group of Arabs, including Emiratis, in the movie. “He also gave a chance to an Arab journalist who had come for interviews,” said Kavya. The 26-year-old actress, who earlier this year made a comeback to films after her short-lived married life with a Kuwait-based Keralite ran into rough weather, hopes the realistic character in Gadhama will help her regain the glory of the leading title in an industry that hardly produces female-oriented movies.
“It’s a very strong character for me. Reliving the painful moments the woman had endured hurt me so much that I used to think about her and feel sorry for all women like her every moment,” she said. “I feel there is a need for a lot of awareness even now. It’s not that all maids are abused or all of them are like angels. We also have heard the stories of how servants have cheated families, stolen their valuables and ill-treated their children. I hope this story will create awareness for both the sides,” said Kavya.
“I’m not that type of an artiste who goes out to the streets and fight for social causes. My background doesn’t give me the guts to be an activist in real life. The only way I can do such things is through my films and I’ll be extremely happy if my character can bring in some changes in the society or in the life of at least one person. That will be worth more than any award for my role,” she added.