An 11-minute short film starts with two brothers talking about a place — Eden; a place where nobody fights, a place where dreams come true. Seven minutes into the movie, the children take off on their boat for Eden, amid a fight between their parents. Minutes later, one brother falls off the boat while the younger one arrives at an abandoned island.
The film, titled Eden, now has found its way into the city’s family courts, with judge P L Palsingankar directing couples in two separate child custody battles to watch the short film made by WhistlingWoods International Film Production.
On January 29, one couple was asked to step out and watch the film on their smart phones. The parties were told to come back into court in the afternoon session after they’d watched it.
In another recent order, when one of the litigants told the judge that she could not watch the film as she did not have a smartphone, Judge Palsingankar asked the husband to “provide his smart phone to the wife for few minutes so that she can watch that short film to educate herself, also that she can educate her daughter on the issue in question”.
The movie is based on a couple fighting incessantly. The elder of the two brothers, Akash, is seen hurting himself to distract his parents or hiding beneath bed covers along with the younger brother Rahul, pretending to not hear the fight. The parents realise only later that their kids are nowhere to be found.
Such instances, according to Gayathri K R, a senior psychiatric social worker in the court, are similar to behaviour she notices among children whose parents are fighting custody battles. “The child is usually seen trying to help the parents, distract them and is seen putting efforts to be loyal to the non-custodian parent,” Gayatri said.
Early 2014, in a bid to look for innovative ways to portray the condition of the child, Gayatri stumbled upon the film Eden and another Hindi-movie titled Rahul. In March and June 2014, the court made some couples watch parts of the movie Rahul.
Also, outside the child access room in Bandra’s court building, is a poster asking litigants to watch the movie “Papa tum Kahaan ho”, for the same reasons. The hour-long movie is about a couple who part ways because their families cannot accept their newborn second child, a girl. This film was a suggestion by other parent litigants, said Gayathri.
“The children grow in such hostile environments in the house that it starts to affect their subconscious mind which ends up affecting their own family life when they grow up,” said president of the Family Court Bar Association, advocate Dilip Teli. “ We have noticed a rising trend in custody battles where one parent refuses to give child access to the other. They should know this prejudices the child’s mind. This could lead to mental problems,” he added. “We have had positive feedback from a few non-custodian parents, but we still hope to get positive reviews from the custodian ones,” said Frenny Italia, senior counselor at the court .