I know you aren’t done! I know you have more to say. And rather than picking through the Scene By Scenes trying to find the right place for these Big Discussions, I am giving us designated places to talk about it all. (full index of JHMS coverage here)
I’ll start the conversation off with my feelings about Sejal. Which aren’t necessarily right, or wrong, they are just what I think. And you can put in the comments what you think keeping in mind, again, that you aren’t necessarily right or wrong either, the film is purposefully open to interpretation and multiple options.
A couple of days ago in the discussion in the comments, I stumbled on the exact phrase to describe my feelings about Sejal. She is still in her “factory settings” stage. Her environment, her family, everything in her whole life up until now has tried to make her a certain way. She has never had the opportunity to find out what she wants to be outside of that, if she can be anything outside of that.
And so, yes, she is rude and demanding and spoiled. But I can forgive her for that in the same way I can forgive the 12 year old in my Sunday School class whose parents are going through a divorce, or the 4 year old I recently spent the day with who has no sense of limitations because she has a serious health issue and her mother indulges her. They are merely reflections of how they were raised, I can’t expect them to be anything different than what they are.
Sejal, on the outside, is a grown woman not a child. She should be able to take responsibility for her actions and decisions. But as I see her through out the film, she has never had the opportunity to grow up, to experience things in the world outside of the narrow environment where she has been kept. How can we expect her to be any better than what she was made to be, if she has never had a chance before?
And the thing is, now that she has that chance, she is grabbing it with both hands. It may be irritating for Harry to put up with her questions and her adventures, but this is what she has to do to grow up. Growing up, changing your worldview and yourself, it’s a messy process. It’s not something that can be done overnight (despite how most films show it). And there is some back and forth in it too. One moment she can have a flash of insight, of empathy, and the next she can go back to being that person she was for the first 24-26 years of her life.
So yes, I find her legitimately irritating, as does Harry. But, like Harry, I also pity her. And I respect her bravery in attempting this messy journey towards being a better person.
Most of all, I can’t find it within myself to blame her for most of what she does. In the same way I can’t find it within myself to blame the children in my Sunday School class for being products of their background, but also in the same way I can’t find it within myself to blame Harry for anything he does. This film isn’t asking us to love everything the characters do, but it is asking us to understand and forgive them.