Reel Caregiving: Glimpses of Caregiving – Khamoshi

Movie Review Courtesy: Ishita Dinger

Khamoshi is a captivating tale of a female nurse who struggles in balancing the demands of her professional role and her own emotions. This movie captures the intricate challenges that healthcare practitioners face in their work and how that affects many aspects of their well-being.

The nature of relationships with healthcare practitioners is very transactional. Patients expect to get immediate treatment from doctors and once they are cured, this relationship ends. However, in the journey of palliative care, the relationships that healthcare practitioners form with their patients extends to much more than just a simple barter of money and remedy. Khamoshi accentuates this challenge of palliative caregiving.

The story revolves around Radha, a nurse in a psychiatric hospital. The compassion and adroitness with which she handles the patients made Radha one of the only nurses in the hospitals that patients complied with for their treatment and shared emotional bonds with. One such bond was what left Radha in a state of devastation.

Radha had previously attended to Dev, a patient of acute mania, whose symptoms had started after he had been betrayed by his lady love. Radha and Col. Sahab, a veteran doctor that Radha worked with, adopted a treatment method that required Radha to act as a motherly figure so that the feelings that Dev had for the woman he was in love with, could be projected on to Radha. This kind of treatment required Radha to share a strong emotional bond with her patient, which eventually led to her falling in love with him.

However, Radha’s love for Dev was unrequited because he failed to see her outside her role as a caregiver. Radha was merely looked at as a nurse and not a woman that Dev saw himself falling in love with. This unreciprocated love left Radha devastated after Dev was discharged from the hospital. Not only did she struggle to keep her personal desires and professional work separate, she simply could not share with her colleagues and peers about her feelings because of its unprofessional nature. This significantly impacted her psychological well-being and made her doubt her work-life purpose.

History repeats itself when a new patient, Arun, who also had acute mania because of being betrayed by a lady love, is admitted to the hospital. Though Radha resists attending to Arun at first, she eventually agrees to nurse him. Over time, Arun and Radha form an emotional bond of trust and Arun soon starts projecting his feelings of love on to Radha, who is once again stuck between her desires and the expectations that her profession encumbers her with. Radha tries to push herself away from reality in the fear of repeating the same story of unrequited love as she had with Dev. This ultimately affects her psychological health and she fails to keep up her mental and emotional health because she finds herself struggling between her roles as a woman and a caregiver. Unable to deal with these complex feelings, she becomes emotionally deranged.

As part of the palliative care journey, it is vital that healthcare practitioners form an emotional bond with their patients so that the patients maintain a level of trust with the doctors for their treatment. Like Radha, some caregivers may go out of their way to build a rapport with their patients or to understand the patients’ concerns and needs, which enables them to have a deeper bond with patients during their end-of-life care. However, this bond is often left unrequited in instances of discharge from hospitals or deaths. Caregivers may be left in a state of grief because the person that they had an emotional bond with is now no longer a recipient of their care, the very foundation of their relationship.

Moreover, some patients or their families may fail to recognize palliative care doctors or nurses as something beyond their caregiving roles. Towards the end of the movie, Col. Sahab regrets that while he always saw Radha as a devoted nurse, he failed to recognize the woman inside of her. This failure of recognizing the caregivers as people leaves healthcare practitioners in a state of an identity crisis since they may struggle to find a balance between their professional demands of “moving on” from one patient to another, and the personal bonds that they shared with each patient they attended to. This stoic role that family caregivers and healthcare practitioners are expected to play impacts their psychological and emotional strength, often making themselves doubt their own capabilities.

It is essential to understand this challenge that palliative care doctors and nurses face so that they can be holistically looked at in other roles that they may play in addition to their caregiving role.

In our next segment of Reel Caregiving, we will explore the nuances of caregiving in another movie. Stay tuned!

 

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