Movie Review Courtesy: Carol Saldanha
In the movie 15 Park Avenue, Annu is the elder sister and caregiver of Meethi, who suffers from schizophrenia.
While Meethi constantly hears voices of her imaginary family calling her home at 15 Park Avenue, Annu finds it increasingly difficult to explain to her that she is delusional and that the place doesn’t exist. After a conversation with Meethi’s doctor, Annu finds out that Meethi developed early signs of schizophrenia in childhood, and a series of events throughout her life triggered the illness. Their brother Mahesh insists that Meethi should be left in an asylum but Annu is adamant to care for her sister at home.
Although she has household help, Annu is still very involved as a caregiver. She juggles her work as a professor and being the primary caregiver for her sister. Even with all the caregiving responsibility, she manages to find time to work on and publish her book.
She expresses feelings of guilt because she couldn’t detect her sister’s illness when it first manifested. As a caregiver, she takes care of her sister as well as her old mother and is frustrated most of the time.
She is also seen struggling to find a balance between her work and personal life. Annu constantly puts Meethi’s needs before her own. When Sanjeev, a professor Annu shares an intimate relationship with, urges her to join him at Princeteon University, she declines the offer as she cannot leave Meethi. Due to the constant worry she also fights with her family. As a caregiver, Annu feels helpless and refers to herself as a monster because she feels she is not good enough in any role that she plays, whether a daughter, sister or a companion. To feel better, Annu takes her family on a holiday so that she can relax and care for her sister at the same time.
The movie highlights the different challenges that Annu faces as a caregiver. The overwhelming job of being a caregiver negatively impacts her work as well as her relationships with loved ones. In the end, she gains support from others. The movie brings to our attention that a caregiver finds it difficult to handle different roles simultaneously, so a constant support system is the only thing that can help them cope.
In our next segment on Reel Caregiving, we will explore caregiving in another movie. Watch this space!