Six Good Reasons To Watch Stree

Imagine a setting where men are told to stay home after dark as the streets are too unsafe for them. Imagine a husband telling his wife to come home soon because he is scared to be left home alone. Imagine men dressing up as women to avoid getting killed. Imagine a woman luring a man to a secluded place. Imagine men’s clothes being ripped apart…

No this is not my fantasy. This is the premise of the movie, Stree.

Is it possible to make a movie that can make you laugh, scare you, and also pass on a relevant message? This movie deserves an applause for doing just that.

A lot of people find horror amusing. And that works as advantage for Stree being a ‘horror comedy’. They themselves make fun of the Bhoot.

Some more reasons to go for it:

  1. Brilliant acting

I think most of us by now are fans of Rajkumar Rao. I had loved his performance in Bareily Ki Barfi. But in this movie, he is even better. So is the rest of the cast (very aptly selected for their roles) in this sleepy town of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh. Shraddha Kapoor looks beautiful although acting wise she is probably overshadowed in the second half by such better actors. Still, she is mysterious and mesmerizing enough to keep her character engaging.

  1. Consent reinforced!

Bollywood is becoming much more aware. Not aware enough to get rid of item numbers. Nonetheless if you have a Pink that talks about consent, you have a Stree to complement it.

“Wo stree hai, purush nahi jo jabardasti utha le jaye. Wo pehle tumse anumati legi”

  1. People with patriarchal mindset, Beware!

 “Aurat paon ki jooti hoti hai”

If you think like that, then well you deserve to be punished! Ghosts have started targeting patriarchal, chauvinist men who do not give love and respect to women.

  1. Based on a ridiculously, true phenomenon.

Now this one line completely changes my perception of horror movies (in a good way). Probably this is the reason why I like the Conjuring series or the exorcism of Emily Rose.

I tried to google the original “legend” the movie is based on:

As spooky as this may sound, the story takes inspiration from an urban legend that had Bengaluru in its grasp sometime in the 1990s.

Legend says that a witch would come knocking at people’s doors every night and if they opened it for her, she would murder them. Why would people open their doors for a witch? Because she would speak in the voices of their friends or family members.

To ward her away, the town’s residents would write on their walls, “Nale Ba” which means ‘come tomorrow’ in Kannada. The witch would read the inscription on the walls and turn away, only to return the next day and the cycle would continue perennially.

This is all there is on every publication. 1990’s is still quite recent, so I am surprised there isn’t more on it. Anybody reading the article who was in Bengaluru at that time and knew about this, do leave your thoughts in the comments.

  1. Have a good laugh

Oh there are many!  The movie has some lose ends in the plot but still it is very entertaining.

  1. The language

The movie makes use of shuddh as well as colloquial Hindi. From “swayam sevi” to “phalana dhikana” it is indeed a treat to those who are away from their hometown and missing the North Indian flavor in conversations.

The essence of a horror movie lies in its ending. (If I can call this a horror movie). A friend and I are debating on the ending. I do not want to put spoilers in the ending so not getting into it. I read that the sequel is on way so no wonder.

Let me know your thoughts!!

Image source

Movies, Music and Nostalgia…

I watched Gold yesterday. I wish I could review the movie….

I usually do not watch a night show during the week days because I have to get up early thanks to work. But yesterday, I ended up watching the night show as there was only one show in the nearby theater and the whole family had planned to go. With the trailers and the non-smoking advertisements, these night shows easily start by 10 pm.

At home, 10 pm is the time when I mercilessly switch off television, irrespective of how engaging our current Netflix show is, and tell my husband it is time to “shut down”.

This is followed by scrubbing the kitchen slabs and gas stove…

Anyway, coming back to yesterday, here I was at 10 pm daring to watch a night show along with my family.  During the first half of the movie, I tried unsuccessfully to keep my eyes open. From whatever little I managed to watch, Amit Sadh looked good, and I found Mouni Roy’s character annoying.

After interval, I was completely asleep. I even had a dream which involved the movie.  Now, I am even more confused as to what was part of the movie, and what was part of my dream. Hubby tried his best to keep me awake by pulling my leg every time Mouni appeared on screen – “This angry wife is just like you.” But in vain. I was too sleepy to even react to him. However, in between, I would wake up and ask him,

Who is in the semi final?”

“Did the final match start yet?” 

I sounded a lot like my grandmother who does not pay any attention to TV serials but keeps disturbing everybody else who is watching intently by asking what is going on.

By the end of the movie, blissfully asleep I had forgotten where I was.  When people started getting up for the national anthem, I tried to reach my tummy to remove my seat belt, thinking I am in a flight.  Then I woke up, realizing that I am in a theater.  This awareness that I was not in an aircraft  gave me a strange sense of satisfaction because I thought at least I don’t have to travel…

This incident reminded me of the first time I had fallen asleep in the theater as a kid. I am sure I would have fallen asleep as a baby many times but this is the first time that I could remember. It was a charity show of the movie, Maachis. My parents and sister had loved the movie and the “crowd”. Those were the days of single screen theatres and not multiplexes. Families took balcony seats. There would be whistling, screaming, dancing, clapping and what not going on in the front. But being a charity show, the tickets were very expensive. Being a small town, half of the town was present and my parents and sister had spent the time before the start of the movie in socializing with acquaintances / friends they were bumping into.

I don’t think I ever watched Maachis properly after growing up.  Whenever, somebody mentions Maachis, I have a very faint memory of lots of people waiting outside the cinema hall for the movie to start. But it is a good, uplifting feeling (contrary to the serious subject of the movie).

In a recent road trip to a hill station I kept playing songs from the 90’s like Latka dikha diya tumne, Muqabla, Taal se Taal mila etc. My niece was also traveling with me and in an attempt to match up to her I had downloaded some English songs too. Since I am not up to date with anything other than Bollywood, my list started with Shape of You, and ended with Cheap Thrills. Thankfully, she had requested me to download song new songs (which I had no idea about).

I realized that our generation still knows songs from the 60’s 70’s etc but the next generation does not know any songs from the 80’s,90’s.

But why did these songs make me so happy? 

Probably because of the way they make me feel…

It is the association with songs / movies that make us like them years later.

Associations. Memories. And the games our mind plays with them…

That was then. Gold for me will always be the first movie I watched after my wedding, in which I fell asleep!

 

Lust Stories: Definitely Worth A Netflix Watch!

Finally got a chance to watch this. This movie is available on Netflix and has four stories.

  1. The one by Anurag Kashyap

The first story stars Radhika Apte and Akash Thosar. Akash was in Sairat, which I watched recently. In this movie, he looked much cuter.

Imagine a life where you get commitment from a husband who loves you “selflessly”. Yet, you get to “explore” with other guys. Separate the two. After all, you can’t find everything in one guy – stability, commitment, sexual compatibility.  The husband has no objections rather encourages the wife to have fun. Sounds like some fantasy!

Well No! Human nature is complicated. Jealousy, possessiveness, mood swings, longing for love in a hook-up!  Fantasy does not really turn into reality and who better to show us this than Radhika Apte as Kalindi.

Kalindi is initially relatable. Then she becomes too crazy for me to accept as a real person. But she is definitely fun to watch. The beauty of this movie is that they are not trying to show her as good or bad. She just is! Confused! Flawed! Selfish! Moody! She wants to explore but has no idea how to deal with the consequences. In fact, she has no idea how she will feel the next moment.

  1. The one by Zoya Akhtar

We see a couple going at it.  Within few seconds the girl squats on the floor, lifts her salwar to her knees and starts mopping the floor. She is the maid sleeping with the employer.

I admire Bhumi since her first movie. But I feel with every movie she just gets better and better. In this movie, she hardly has any dialogues. We see her going about her daily routine, scrubbing the floor, preparing tea, serving snacks all the while emoting with her eyes.

In one scene, the employer’s mother tells the maid (Sudha) , ‘Bhaiya ki shadi pakki ho gayi hai tumko bhi bahut badhai.” It made me smile.

Bhaiya. Bhabhi. This is how we address people in this country. The society has created the most appropriate way to clarify that it is a ‘clean’ relationship.

People still do what they have to do…

  1. The one by Dibakar Banerjee

This one was slow-paced and a bit boring in the beginning.  It was a delight to watch Manisha Koirala, though after such a long time. She has grace!

Reena is having an affair with her husband’s friend.  Why? “Main tumse chidh jati hoon yaar,” She tells her husband honestly.

She is not afraid of divorcing her husband. What about her children?

Jaise baki divorce ke baad bachhe palte hain, mere bhi pal jayenge.”

The best part of this story is that Reena never considers herself a victim.  In fact, I felt both the men did not match up to her.

  1. The one by Karan Johar

The story has a different tone from the rest of the movie.  It is loud and cliched. What can we expect from Karan Johar!

Rekha (Neha Dhupia) is a character made only for entertainment, entertainment, entertainment with zero credibility.  Her clothes are too flamboyant for a school librarian. Or for anywhere.  In fact, her character is the most thoughtless character in this otherwise refreshing movie. She uses a vibrator in the school library, and then refers to it as a “pati” because it satisfies her.  This was right after she declares that men are useless when it comes to satisfying women!!

But she is not the central character in the story. It is her friend, Megha who has an arranged marriage with Paras.  Paras is none other than Vicky Kaushal from Raazi.  I had liked him a lot in that movie, and this is a completely different role which he has carried out very well.

Megha is not sure if she should marry Paras.  She tells her mother that she never studied in a co-ed school. She was never even allowed to go out with a boy and have ice-cream.

“Isliye to kehti hoon kar lo shadi. Fir jitna man ice-cream khate rehna.” Her mother replies.

But what if this ice-cream which you were forbidden to have all your life, for which you waited so desperately, the one which you have to have for the rest of your life leaves a lot to be desired?

Paras plays the average husband very well. Loving, sweet, and hopeless in bed.  He is so clueless that he happily tells his wife in one scene, “Tum bhi to bahut maze leti ho. Maine dekha hai!”

Kab? The wife wanted to ask, and do did I.

Overall, it is an interesting mix.  Pretty good for a Netflix watch!

Image source

Netflix original ‘Lust Stories’, Instagram (karanjohar)

 

 

 

 

Sairat Vs. Dhadak!

I watched the trailer of Dhadak and I was not at all impressed.  Although Ishaan looked like he had potential, Jahanvi has a long way to go.  The internet was ripping the movie apart with Sairat Vs Dhadak memes which were hilarious. I had not watched Sairat.  It was available on Netflix. Being a three hour movie, I completed it in two days.  Here is what I felt about it:

  • Lead actors Rinku Rajguru (Archi) and Akash Thosar (Parshya) were outstanding. Rinku has a simple yet expressive face. Parshya’s two friends have also acted brilliantly. Their body language, expressions, the social awkwardness is all so natural. You do not feel like you are watching a movie rather you are watching regular people going about with their life.
  • The movie does not romanticize eloping and living in a hut happily ever after! When Parshya and Archi have to live in a slum, Archi is upset. She is disgusted by the place. There are no ‘Akele hain to kya ghum hai, chahe to hamare bus mein kya nahi’ type songs. The moment they start living together, real life problems start.  Buying groceries, cooking, quarreling over extra salt, getting jealous of her male colleagues, missing family – It paints a realistic picture.  Archi looks like she does not have a lot of money.  Her hair, her clothes, her female collaegue with whom she shared that she missed her family are all realistic.  Yes, kiddos. Running away and living in a small hut built with love is not such a great idea!
  • The music!  I have downloaded Jhing jhing Jhingat! It is a riot! The way Parshya and his friends are dancing, and Archi and her friends dancing in the balcony – love it! Yes, they would obviously not be dancing together in her house and the director was mindful enough of that.
  • The ending! What can I say. The last time I felt like this was after watching Rita Morgan’s death in Dexter, season 4 finale as Dexter finds baby Harrison in a pool of blood.  I wish I had watched this movie in the theater.

Now coming to Dhadak.  Yes, I know the movie has not even released.  Ishaan and Jahanvi are just kids and I hope they do well in life. I especially feel bad  for Jahanvi who has suffered irreparable loss at such a young age.

But after matching Sairat, I feel all the memes are totally justified! As Kangana Ranaut rightly said Karan Johan is undoubtedly the flagbearer of nepotism. With all the grooming, training, genes,there is no comparison between Archi and Jahanvi! Please watch Sairat. Archi and Parshya are not star kids. But they know how to act. The movie has soul. Look at Jahanvi’s hair in the scene when they are running away and compare it to Archi’s hair! It makes me laugh. Did she run away with a hair stylist? You know what, Mr. Johar. It is okay to look middle class.  It is okay to look average. It is okay to have wavy hair.  That is how we, 90 percent of women in India look.  Go take a tour of India. There is a whole world without glamour. It does not take anything away from the essence of the movie (provided the movie has it in the first place).

I know anybody can have merit, star kids too. But there are so many talented people in our country. I wish they got a  fair chance instead of people who were lucky enough to be born with a silver spoon in their mouth.  In which other country do we see this – Hero ka beta / beti hero / heroine? The whole khandaan gets a ticket to Bollywood!

Some of the memes were mean, but here is one which  is only making fun of the movie, and not people!

Sairat Vs Dhadak!!

Twitter source

Image source:

Featured image source

 

Break-Up Of Bromance – The Latest Fault Of The Indian Wife

Break-Up Of Bromance – The Latest Fault Of The Indian Wife

Wives have traditionally been put second by husbands, after their in laws and his extended family, and now after a bromance too?

Year 2011: A movie titled ‘Pyaar ka punchnama’ had released. After watching it, I had told a male friend how I did not like the portrayal of women.

“Why don’t you protest when all movies show men as villains? Haan? This movie shows the reality of women!”

Read more.

So What Is Your Hichki?

Earlier this week somebody I saw the video of the new ‘Ek do teen’ from Baghi 2. Jacqueline Fernandes’ outfit, her expressions, men ogling at her made me cringe so much that I swore Bollywood can do nothing better than objectifying women.

Yesterday I watched ‘Hichki’. I did not know much about the movie except that Rani Mukherjee, one of my favorite actresses plays a teacher.  I remember reading the name Sidharth  Malhotra in the newspaper in the context of the movie. Of course I missed the ‘P’ in the name, and the fact that he is the director. I told my mother that Sidharth Malhotra is the hero of the movie!! I was sure I read right, and kept waiting for his appearance until ‘The End’ when my mother told me ‘Tumhare Sidharth Malhotra ka to guest appearance bhi nahi tha’!

Just when I had completely given up on Bollywood, here was a movie about a woman who wanted to be a teacher. She has Tourette syndrome and cannot complete a sentence makes involuntary sounds like ‘Chaa Cha Waa Waa’ .  Not a very glamourous thing to do, and I do not think any actress could have pulled it off (maybe Vidya Balan). She is fully covered throughout the movie, has her own struggle, but has learnt to accept it and focus on her strengths. There is no romantic angle in the movie (what a relief)! The songs are in the background and help the pace of the film.

The movie has an underlying message:

Accept yourself! We all have something which we consider as a ‘flaw’. Get over it! Because if you don’t you get stuck with it. Your ‘flaw’ does not restrict your potential. But your own complex does.’

For someone it is stammering. For someone else it is their poverty.

I was touched by the movie. I googled ‘Tourette syndrome’ and watched videos of people who live with it.  Some have a flinch, others make some sound. It is called ‘tics’. I am sharing a video of a woman who involuntarily says ‘Biscuit’ in every sentence. She is quite happy and cool and motivates other people to have the ability to laugh at herself.

Zindagi tere ghum ne hamein rishte naye samjhaye

We continue to live with our shallow concerns such as how we look and how other people are going on better vacations that us.  We don’t like our color, or height, or weight and we also reject people of the opposite sex based on that. And then there are people who just want to be accepted. So, what if they are a little different. Aren’t we all different from each other? That is what the little girl (young Naina Mathuri) said to the teacher – Just treat me like everyone else.

I especially liked the way the ending of the movie. Rani’s acting was brilliant. The kids were also all a superb fit for their role. Bollywood has seen ‘school’ stories before with the likes of ‘Student of the Year’ kind of garbage. Rich, good looking kids who come to school only to fall in love. This was a real school story. I felt nostalgic and remembered the convent school I attended.  Sparsh Khanchandani had an important role. I kept telling my mother this is the same girl as Ichcha from Uttaran. She recognized her by the time half of the movie was over. Supriya and Sachin, real life couple played Naina Mathur’s parents role with much conviction. While Naina’s mother was supportive of her and loved her unconditionally, her father was embarrassed by her condition. I am a fan of Supriya and Sachin and it was a treat to watch them on screen. Other kids also acted brilliantly. Another girl, Natasha who played a rich kid is already a TV actress (my mother told me) but I don’t think I watch enough TV to know who she is.

The kids in this movie were getting a good opportunity through the ‘Right to education’ Act. But they were not willing to utilize it. They felt like victims, and that they would never be equal to the privileged kids, no matter what.  Naina Mathur tells them that there is only a difference of one thought to take the step from ‘Why’ to ‘Why not’. I loved that line. All of us have some hichki or another. Accept it. Get over it. Move on and live your life. Because it is not the hichki that stops you, but your own mindset.

Thank you to the makers of this movie. This was beautiful. Loved it. Please keep making sensible cinema and please stop making romantic movies with idiotic songs!!

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

Bollywood! False Masculinity And Abuse of Women

One of the most vibrant movies of Sridevi, Chaalbaaz was on Zee Classic over the weekend. Watching Sridevi on screen has always been a delight. But ever since her untimely death, it has been all the more hard to resist watching her movies, knowing that such magic cannot be recreated again.

I don’t know how many times I would have watched Chaalbaaz as a kid. I have it memorized. My mother and I were discussing how we like Seeta Aur Geeta more than Chaalbaz. Father disagreed. He said Sridevi’s acting was far beyond excellence.   I went to the kitchen and missed a scene. My father called out to me, “Did you just see that? He grabbed her hair!”

I quickly ran back to the living room. Here was an angry Sunny Deol grabbing Sridevi by her hair. Reason: He thought he had seen her (her twin) with Rajnikanth, walking together!

He said to her something like, “Main to tumse sharafat se baat kar raha hoon. Aisa karne se to yahaan qatal ho jate hain”.

What a shareef guy! He did not kill her! Just abused her verbally and physically!

He said it so matter-of-factly as if killing a woman for cheating was a rule and not killing her was nice of him! Sharing the link. Scroll to 2:04.

All these movies I loved as a kid have been completely ruined for me now. Violence against women was so normalized! The recent killing of a woman who was stabbed multiple times, and its coverage in media brings us back to the stone age.

I was reading through some of the comments of how some men believed that when a guy cares and loves a woman so much, spends all his money on her, yet she leaves him or cheats on him what is he supposed to do! Some men even wrote that there is no place for “nice guys” in this world that has been taken over by “faminists”!

Unfortunately, relationships don’t come with a guarantee card. As unfair as it may be, people can leave. At any time. Men. Or women. If a woman cheats on you, please feel free to leave her. But her life is not yours to take.

I remember having a conversation with two of my male colleagues about an article I had written on “honour killing”. These two educated, modern-looking men who I interacted with daily, had lunch with argued that “in that situation any man would feel so angry that he would want to kill the woman!”  One of the the guys said that if his long – term girlfriend  cheats on him, his first reaction would be to kill her too! Obviously, the women were shocked. So these guys ended up changing their statements later. They said we misunderstood. They were just trying to speak from the killer’s perspective, what goes in his head!!!

Bollywood has created so much crap during my childhood that took so long to unlearn. It did much damage to our mindsets. The fact that I do not remember this scene as something objectionable means I probably found it okay. I remember another movie in which Aamir Khan had slapped Madhuri Dixit and he now truly regrets being part of such show of false sense of masculinity. Not only this, women like me also grew up believing we deserve abuse!

Mindsets take time to change. But  some people love to be stuck in the 13th century even today.

Image source

 

 

 

Yeh Mausam Chale Gaye To Hum Fariyaad Kareinge

Like most people who woke up to this news today, I thought it was a hoax. The whatsapp groups were flooded. And so was the Facebook Newsfeed. Few searches on Google confirmed it. When I switched on the news channels, it was so real.

In sapnon ki tasveeron se, in yaadon ki zanjeeron se Apne dil ko kaise, hum azad kareinge

When I was in school, my elder sister and her best friend had a fan club of Sridevi Vs Madhuri Dixit respectively.  I guess our generation was lucky enough to have two reigning female superstars. I usually copied my sister for everything. But this was one of the times I would make my own choice.

“I like Madhuri Dixit even more than Sridevi”. I would say. Hum Aapke Hain Kaun was my favourite movie. And Salman Khan was my favourite hero.

My earliest memories of Sridevi’s movies is of my sister telling me the story in a nutshell. I watched them much later in life. Or probably I had watched them when I was younger. But I understood them much later. Because they were all so meaningful.

Sachcha Koi Sapna Deja Mujhko Koi Apna Deja

A child will not understand the meaning of this song. When you grow up, you would understand how loneliness will make you crave for just anyone…Yes. Anyone!

Koi Kash Dil Pe Zara Hath Rakh Le Mere Dil Ke Tukdoh Ko Ik Sath Kar Le

Was it just me who sympathized more with Vinod Khanna in the last scene?

Main to hoon pagal munda, tu hai meri soni kudi. Yaaaah

Army was one of those movies that was not as famous as her other ones. But I just loved this song! There was another movie called Mr. Bechara. Again one of the lesser known ones. It would come on television frequently . I loved that one too. It had a funny song, “Lage mujhe sundar har ladki. Ho paise wali ya kadki.” I liked that song also because I believed that Sridevi finds all girls pretty. She would find me pretty too if she ever meets me.

Another not so famous movie that I would watch on television was Aulaad!  I used to feel so bad for both the mothers. I don’t even remember the ending.

When Laadla had come out, I had learnt something new. “You understand. You better understand!”  Whenever I would fight with my sister  I would end the argument with that statement. I had loved the last scene of the movie when Sridevi becomes all domesticated, wears a sari and says to Anil Kapoor while handing over a tiffin box “Shaam ko ghar jaldi aayega”. (I was too young to be a feminist then).. 

But I think my favourite movie of Sridevi remains Lamhe.

Tera man tarsa re, paani kyun barsa re, tune kisko yaad kiya

“Anil Kapoor loves Sridevi. She dies. Then her daughter grows up and falls in love with him!” – My sister had told me the story.

“What!” I had replied. Way ahead of its times, this was a masterpiece! Every scene was a visual treat. It was again one of those movies I watched and understood after becoming a teenager. No woman from our generation had completed school without dancing to ‘Morni baga maa bole aadhi raat maa’.

I love all the songs from that movie. They are in my pen drive. And downloaded from Gaana too. For me ‘Kabhi main kahoon’ would be one of the most romantic song ever.

Beauty. Acting. Dancing. Grace. Can any actress of this generation even compare?

Hotho se honth mile na bhale chahe mile na bahe bahon se, do dil zinda reh sakte hain chahat ki bhari nigaho se  

The answer is No. They can wear the skimpiest clothes possible. And do a 100 kissing scenes. They will not look half as sensuous as Sridevi in her plain red sari and white sari.

Actresses do a come-back after a break. Their movies are at best forgettable. Sridevi gave us English Vinglish.

“Mujhe pyaar ki kami nahi hai. Bus thodi izzat chahiye.” Every woman could relate.  Navrai majhi became the national wedding anthem.

I had to write a review for Mom. I had  watched it within a day of release.  When I wrote the first draft of the review, I had gone completely carried away by Sridevi’s performance. I had written that the scene in which she sees her daughter in the hospital for the first time should be shown in acting schools as a lesson on how to emote grief. I had dedicated some two – three paragraphs on how Sridevi is the best! Nobody can match her in any way!  I was asked to rework. I had completely overlooked the word limit and spoiler consideration! But such is the impact Sridevi had on everyone.

Why did she have to go?

 Main vaapas aaunga mai vaapas aaunga, jaa rahaa hun mai yahaan jaan apni chhod  ke 

My heart goes out to her young daughters whose lives have not even begun yet.  Mona Kapoor had also passed away just before Arjun’s Kapoor debut release. The same thing happened to Jahanvi.

Judaai judaai kabhi aaye na judaai.

The people who are commenting about drugs, surgeries, pressure to look slim that “killed her”, please have some respect. She has not even been laid to rest yet. She is not alive to refute you or speak for herself.  Just because she is famous does not mean her death is for you and me to  analyse. She is a person who died. Leaving behind a family.

Bijli girane main hoon aayi, kehte hain mujhko hawa hawai

Sridevi ji, you will be the only Diva for me, and for millions of others. Your eyes. Your smile. Your face, your grace.  Your dance. Your movies. You acted at a time when people used to comment on how some heroines look better in Indian vs Western. You were exquisite in both. Your acting was mesmerizing  in the last two movies of your life, as it was 10-20 years ago. You played your age. And you did it beautifully.  You had beauty. You had substance. You had talent. You were born to shine.

I had blogged  after Reema Lagoo ji had passed away. I will say it again.  Everything good associated with my childhood is gone.

Ye lamhe ye pal hum, barson yaad karenge, yeh mausam chale gaye to, hum fariyaad kareinge.

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Padman: Dragged In The Second Half, But A Good One Overall

I watched Padman yesterday.

I had watched a video of Arunachalam Muruganantham  before Twinkle Khanna had come up with her book or Akshay Kumar with the movie. It was very impactful.   It is not easy to did what he did.  I have immense respect for him. Since, I had seen his story, I knew that a lot of things shown in the movie was in fact true.

I love Akshay Kumar! I think a lot of girls had a crush on him since the ‘Chura ke dil mera goriiya chali’ days. I feel his career graph has been amazing. Commercial success along with a social message is not an easy thing to achieve.  And he had done it with ‘Airlift, ‘Toilet’ etc. Movies that show how gratifying it is to think about something / someone other than us.

What worked for me:

  • The first half is quite entertaining. Interesting premise.
  • Radhika Apte was apt for her role! This is the first movie of hers that I have seen! I may have seen parts of Badlapur.
  • The audience would completely sympathise with Laxmi’s character. Poor guy is trying to help. He talks about logic and hygiene. But the stupid villagers are not willing to accept anything beyond their backward beliefs. I will not call them illiterate because even Arunachalam Muruganantham is a school dropout. Education is a good start but it does not guarantee anything. It is a lost cause on many! Our society is full of people who hold on to their regressive beliefs for dear life and do not care about much else. I guess it is a combination of ego, bullying by elders, hypocrisy, resistance to logic and unconditional love for stupidity!
  • When Laxmi’s “product” gets rejected by his wife as “bekar” or with other women being skeptical to try it on, you really feel for the guy. It reminded me of the movie, ‘Toilet’ when they had broken the washroom he had contracted within his house! It was such a nice washroom with tiles and even a jet spray faucet!!
  • The way women are treated during “those days” is well depicted in the movie. Even so called modern, women (who have access to sanitary napkins) are not allowed to visit temples or performing pujas during periods. People do not realize that these rules were made at a time when there no access to hygiene. They do not apply anymore.
  • Radhika Apte (Gayatri)’s dialogue “Hum aurateein ke liye bimari se marna, sharam se marne se behtar hai.”.  I think stupidity may the biggest disease in India!
  • There is a scene in which Gayatri leaves her husband is back to her brother’s house because everybody (including she herself) thinks Laxmi is crazy. There, her Bhabhi falls down in the bathroom. Her brother taunts his wife for being fat, eating too much and breaking the pipe as the poor woman is struggling in pain. Gayatri looks at her insensitive, rude, mean, brother in horror who is a contrast to her husband, who was so sweet and caring. This was a very impactful scene. Girls, we may fight with our boyfriends, husbands for whatever reason but ultimately if your guy treats you nicely and cares for you, it is what matters. There are enough horrible men like this idiot!

What did not work for me:

  • Sonam Kapoor! I don’t know why she was there in the movie. The one-sided love angle was completely forced and unnecessary. The movie dragged in the second half. I don’t know why Bollywood always has to have two women to show contrast between the gaon ki gori, bholi bhali girl vs the modern, English speaking shehar ki ladki. Sonam Kapoor (Pari) is playing herself. A privileged woman with an accent who says “Ashir what?” There was a girl from the medical college who was sympathetic towards Lakshmi. I think it would have been more credible if Sonam’s role was given to her.
  • Pari’s father is a widower who raised her alone. He cooks for her, and they both seem to have a very honest, friendly relationship. In an absurd dialogue he says to Laxmi, “Baap hone ka asli ehsaas / maza maa ban kar hi aata hai!” “Aur mard hone ka asli maza aurat ho ka ata hai”. The writers may be trying to make a progressive movie but they carry their gender stereotypes to work. A father cannot cook for her daughter! If he is doing so he is being like a mother! Wow! Why can’t we just let good fathers be good fathers! They can be appreciated as fathers also.
  • Laxmi’s speech towards the end should not have been made so comic. I did not find it funny but annoying, and corny. What I did find funny was Sonam Kapoor’s kiss before, and an unsuccessful attempt after! It was not romantic. It made me laugh. Why Bollywood! Why!

Towards the last 15 minutes I was just waiting for the movie to be over. Maybe the movie dragged. Maybe I should not go for a night show! Maybe when Akshay Kumar was delivering his ‘Linglish’ speech, all I could think of was the original Padman’s speech. I could not find the video which I had seen years ago, but I did find this Ted Talk link.  Do watch it. He talks about how after making lots of money, people think about philanthropy. Why not do it from he start! Very inspirational video.

https://www.ted.com/talks/arunachalam_muruganantham_how_i_started_a_sanitary_napkin_revolution

Overall, I understand that spreading a message is important. But in order to reach more people, our Bollywood keeps commercial success and  commercial constraints in mind! Chalo koi nahi. What is important is that now everybody knows Arunachalam Muruganantham. A great man who did what probably no other man could. And who does not care about money! Respect! What is important is we are breaking the taboo around periods. Bollywood, we forgive your flaws, as long as the cause is good. Padman is definitely better than most Bollywood movies!

Image source

An Open Letter To Ms. Swara Bhaskar – A Response To Padmaavat

Dear Ms. Bhaskar,

I used to be a fan of you. You  were terrific in Raanjhana (a movie that validated stalking)  and Tanu Weds Manu – I and II.  I loved your acting. In ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’ when you said, “Ghar wala sab dimag kharab kar diya tha, 4 saal ho gaya hai. Bachcha nahi ho raha hai, kyun nahi ho raha hai” or “Tanu ne to aajevan kuch sahi nahi kiya hai” I felt like YOU Swara Bhaskar are such a sensible, funny, relatable person.

It is a mistake that we often make as an audience. We fall in love with the character and forget that it is just cinema and an actor playing a role. Probably the same mistake you made when you as an audience watched ‘Padmaavat’. You probably did not realize that Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the director had made a movie. A period film. Set in the 13th century.

I watched the movie yesterday. At a time when your open letter became old news. And the latest from you was:

“There’s a real problem of intolerance of opinion in India. We see difference of opinion as dissent and dissent as sedition.

Everything is in my letter. I stand 100 percent with what I said,”

I am so sorry that you “felt reduced to a vagina” after watching the movie. Before watching the movie I had thought your statement was out of context and therefore, stupid. But after watching the movie, I thought it was not just stupid, but judgmental and insensitive. In your own words:

“It would be nice if the vaginas are respected; but in the unfortunate case that they are not, a woman can continue to live. She need not be punished with death, because another person disrespected her vagina without her consent.”

Ofcourse. Could not agree more. I just cannot place it in the context of 13th century. How many men were there – reaching the castle “ready to disrespect the vagina” of these women? Hundreds? Thousands? Lakhs?  I cannot tell but what I did understand was there were many. Ruthless. Violent. Obsessive. Merciless, entitled men. What would these men have done to these women?  Not once. Not twice. But for the remainder of their lives? Who did they have for support? The men they knew were already killed. The women they know would become sex slaves themselves.  They did not have the option to pop an I-pill. Or go to court. Or go to a counsellor for support.  Or a hospital for abortion.  Or treatment. There would be no journalists or ordinary,  aware citizens trying to get them justice in case the legal system failed them. It was the time of war.  Entire kingdoms were wiped out.

“I felt my existence was illegitimate because God forbid anything untoward happened to me, I would do everything in my power to sneak out of that fiery pit– even if that meant being enslaved to a monster like Khilji forever.”

Madam, you sound so judgmental and insensitive. It is very easy to watch a movie in the 21st century and say that YOU would have done something else. I do not think it was so simple to “sneak out”. I do not think it was so simple to be “enslaved to a monster like Khilji forever.” The women chose death because it was a better option that being raped all their lives with EVERYONE they could reach out to for love or support gone.  Does not sound like a life anyone would like to lead.

“No Sir; Rajasthan in the 13th century with its cruel practices is merely the historical setting of the ballad you have adapted into the film Padmaavat. The context of your film is India in the 21st century; where five years ago, a girl was gang-raped brutally in the country’s capital inside a moving bus. She didn’t commit suicide because her honour had been desecrated, Sir. She fought her six rapists. She fought them so hard that one of those monsters shoved an iron rod up her vagina. She was found on the road with her intestines spilling out. Apologies for the graphic details, Sir, but this is the real ‘context’ of your film.”

You would have felt happy if Mr. Bhansali had changed the ending and infact shown a gory account of the women getting raped, yet surviving? Do you think that would have been an empowered ending? Or you wanted him to forget the time period completely – and show a legal recourse and them getting justice? You had said that you had supported the movie until you watched it. I don’t know what you were expecting in the end? You thought the johar angle would have been changed and that was the suspense factor of the movie?  I do not understand what you were thinking.

I do not think the movie was misogynist and it did not portray women as weak. The Rani was smart. She strategized. She did not listen blindly to her husband. She fooled Khilji with her intelligence. She ignored the men and did what she felt was right.  Khilji’s wife was also shown  taking a decision herself, defying her husband’s wish. And after watching all of this, you felt reduced to a vagina? Madam, that is  EXACTLY what the Rani and the rest of the women would have been reduced to, if they had not committed jauhar – a vagina.

“You will say that you put out a disclaimer at the beginning of the film claiming that the film did not support Sati or Jauhar. Sure Sir, but you followed that up with a two-hour-45-minute-long paean on Rajput honour, and the bravery of honourable Rajput women who chose happily to sacrifice their lives in raging flames, than to be touched by enemy men who were not their husbands but were incidentally Muslim.”

Two of my closest friends are incidentally of a different religion.  They watched the movie before I did.  We discussed the movie. They told me the movie was not as good as Bajirao Mastani. They said it got  a little too long. They told me that the girl who played Khilji’s wife, Aditi Rao looked prettier than Deepika. I did not seem to remember who she was. They told me that she is the girl in the song, Ankhiyon ne likhe love letter,’ a song which I love. They also told me that the girl who played the first wife of the Raja was in the recent movie, ‘Tiger Zinda hai.’  I joked that thankfully Mr. Bhansali did not make Deepika and Aditi dance together.  They did not say anything about being offended because Khilji was shown in the bad light. Maybe they have read about him. Maybe they are not ignorant. Maybe we do not find unnecessary reasons to spread communal hate in a country that has already seen enough of it.  Maybe none of us saw what you saw.

There was a disclaimer in the beginning of the film that the movie does not support sati. You said it did not matter because the rest of the movie glorified it.

“Maybe in the 13th century that was the case, but in the 21st century we do not need to subscribe to these limiting ideas. We certainly do not need to glorify them.”

Madam, it was integral for the story line to glorify the jauhar given the time period. It was impactful. It was the truth.  It was history. Can you please tell me why in your own movie, ‘Raanjhana’ stalking was glorified? What was the excuse? That was fiction right? Set in the 21st century? The chances of young men getting influenced by that movie and stalking women is much higher than women getting inspired to kill themselves god forbid, if raped after watching this movie.  Why did not you not think about this when you agreed to be a part of Raanjhana?

  • “Women have the right to live, despite being raped sir.
  • Women have the right to live, despite the death of their husbands, male ‘protectors’, ‘owners’, ‘controllers of their sexuality’.. whatever you understand the men to be.
  • Women have the right to live — independent of whether men are living or not.
  • Women have the right to live. Period.”

I agree 100 percent. So, does Mr. Bhansali. He did not personally place the honour of these women in their vagina and decided that they should die in case it was violated. Neither did I. Nor did the people who disagreed with their views, who you called intolerant. But this movie was not about you and me. Women from the 21st century. It was a tribute to the women from the 13th century.   It was something that happened during that time. Horrific times. Times so nightmarish that jumping into fire seems less painful than the painful life that lies ahead of them. They did what they could. Something you and I cannot imagine. And cannot change.

From,

A woman from the 21st Century who does not judge women from the 13th Century.