Being rendered outdated and useless is a looming threat for practically millions of working people, in the face of the onward march of technology. Many fall on the wayside, blinded by the speed at which it is happening, while some learn to cope.
Singaporean filmmaker Wei Tin Tan’s short film ‘Cash’, screened at the 12th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK), is about four middle-aged women who are about to lose their jobs as cashiers in a supermarket, which is about to implement a cashless system.
It is the kind of material which could have ended up being a sob story on screen. But, here it gets a light-hearted treatment, with some humour thrown in, without losing the seriousness of the issue at hand. When the four women get the message, that they are to be laid off, they refuse to back down and decide to fight back. After everyone has left one evening, they lock the supermarket from inside, refusing to open it until their demands are met. These are honest people, who have worked by the book all their lives.
In one poignant scene, we see them taking foodstuff from the rack, overcome by hunger, and then pooling in all their money to pay for all the stuff they have taken. The management sends a messenger to negotiate with them, who makes up offers to placate them. These range from compensation amount to promise of funding education for their kids.
These common attempts at breaking worker unity have an effect on some of them, leading to differences between the foursome. The subject can ring some bells for viewers across the globe and especially in India, who have heard enough of the ‘cashless’ mantra ever since demonetisation.
‘Cash’ is not exactly a message to slow down the fast-paced implementation of technology in all facets of our life, but a call to not lose our humanity, a call to carry along those who can’t cope.