Indian Matchmaking! Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment!

It was hard to miss articles / memes on this show. Even before I had watched it, words such as ‘cringe’, ‘casteism’, ‘sexism’, ‘elitist’, ‘fair’ , ‘regressive’ etc. used in the  context of the show made me skeptical about watching it.

In the first five minutes of the show, I was wondering if the show was a satire.   I then realized it was not, and I was a little shocked.   Next thing, I know I binge watched and finished it in two days. Some thoughts:

  • It is tough to find a partner

Not everybody gets married at 25. Not everybody meets someone organically and falls in love AND marries the same person.

There are elderly couples shown in the beginning of each episode who have been married forever. I found them really cute. As one of those ladies rightly said, ‘Someone has to introduce you.  A friend, Parents…’

I agree. The matchmaker is also just a source.  In the time of Tinder,  why should we frown upon the idea of a matchmaker! It is just a personalized, customized and super expensive or Premium Tinder as someone said on the show!

  • The show is not the problem. Our hypocrisy is

Until a generation ago in India,  people  believed that a partner is someone chosen for you, just like you don’t choose your mother, father, brother, sister.   People accepted their spouse as destiny and lived with it.  We don’t anymore, of course!  We have options.  Men and women both reject each other.  Since the show was about arranged marriages, critics have labelled it as regressive.

Rejecting based on looks or social status is not something specific to an arranged marriage.  We reject people every day because we don’t like them. In school, college,  tuition classes, gym, office dating app or any place else where men and women meet physically or virtually. We may not spell it out for them directly:

I want someone who is above 5’3 and you are clearly not!

I want someone with minimum this much salary and you are below my standards!

I think I can do much better!

We reject people even without knowing it. Like the guy  staring at the girl, but the girl does not find him interesting enough to even acknowledge.

We do this. It has been done to us.  This is how it works.

“The girl should be taller than 5’3”

This line made me laugh. I am not 5’3.  I remember so many people telling me since the time I was 12-13 that I should do monkey bars so that I become “at least 5’3″! Even if I don’t grow beyond that, it is fine!

  • My partner. My choice!

When we are young, we are shallow. We want our partner to be someone who makes us look good. Often  the superficial qualities we look for in our partner is a manifestation of our own insecurities.    I was told I will not find a tall guy because I was short!  I have heard dark-skinned guys say that they only care that the girl should be fair, because they have been told they will never get one!

I have rejected guys at 24-25, because their English was not good. Looking back, I feel that should not have been the criteria. Elders do the job of counseling marriageable children, and tell them that these things do not matter.   They may be right.  But the point is, as much as we should not let certain things bother us, if it still does,  then marrying someone who we don’t find attractive (physically, intellectually)  is also not fair, to either person.

It is not at all easy! All said and done, if anyone reading this is single and searching let me tell you that marriage is a lot of work, no matter who you marry!!  There is no right person or right choice. You take a decision, and live with it (or not!)!

  • Characters on the show

I don’t know how much of the show was scripted but certainly the characters were real people. My favourite person was Nadia. I found her very pleasant and felt bad for her when she got stood up.   Initially I found Aparna and her mother difficult until I saw Akshay and his mother!

I found Aparna and her mother entertaining.   I would like to say a lot about Akshay and his mother, Preeti but I would refrain since these are real people and not actors!  I have some views on “Pretty, rich boy” also but I guess it would not be nice to share it!

I know a lot of people liked Vyasar and Ankita but I don’t have any opinion on them. I was shocked that someone like Ankita said that she could understand that the man she met (forgetting his name) did not mention that he was divorced to her because it was their first meeting, and she may tell people about it! As if being divorced is a crime that should be hidden!

Pradyuman’s sister was sensible . I liked  how she told her brother when he said that the girl was not for him, ‘Why should she be for you!’

She made another interesting point. At the initial matchmaking stage, most people give a lot of importance to ‘being able to have a conversation’ with someone.  I did too.  This may again be a very overrated thing. If you are having a great conversation with someone in the first meeting, please be aware it may just be superficial!! People pretend!!

  • Sima Aunty! The viral sensation!

I found her hilarious! Long time back, one of my friends had asked me to watch ‘A Suitable Girl’ on Netflix in which Sima Aunty’s daughter gets married,  (and two other girls).   I watched it after watching ‘Indian Matchmaking’.  It is a nice documentary. Very realistic, non-glamourous and emotional. Sima Aunty is more of an anxious mother than a matchmaker in that one.

  • Filmein Sirf Teen Cheezon Se Chalti Hain, Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment!

Netflix bhi entertainment se hi chalta hai! All said and done, the show is very entertaining. I enjoyed watching it.  I am not the kind of person who would binge watch  anything as I find watching television for more than two hours a day irritating.  But for some shows, I make an exception.

This was one of them!

 

 

 

 

 

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan: Would You Let Your Kids Watch It?

Yesterday, my cousin told me that she wanted to watch this movie. She was not sure if she should take her eight- year-old daughter. She told me that mothers on one of the groups  were judging how some people got kids for the movie which was not ‘appropriate’.

I think I have been living under a rock. I had no idea about this movie until yesterday. But more than the movie, I was curious to find an answer for her.

Can she take her kid to watch it?

My take on the movie

First of all, I would like to say that the movie was not that great. It was very entertaining in parts. And of course, we have to appreciate that Bollywood has dared to be so bold.  I felt that Ayushmann Khurana’s Karthik Singh was too filmy to be believable.  He was a let down. I know they had deliberately kept the movie light so that it does not get preachy. But even still, I think the overall package did not conclude well.  For example, ‘Badhai ho’ was the right amount of drama, emotion and comedy.  But this movie was made in a rush I feel.

Aman Tripathi who played Jitendra Kumar did a restrained and expressive performance.  His family consisting of Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao, the couple from Badhai ho, and extended family of Sunita Rajwar and Manu Rishi did a brilliant job. Special mention for Maanvi Gaagroo who played the woman who could not find a groom.  The family dynamics was far more entertaining than the actual plot of the two men being in love and trying to convince their family.  In fact, by the end of the movie, I felt more for the poor Goggle than the lead pair!

Acting by everyone (except Ayushman) is awesome.. This was certainly not Ayushman’s best.  Neena Gupta is getting prettier day by day.

But nonetheless, this was an important film and just because I did not like it so much, does not mean it does not get credit for the message it wished to convey: Homophobia.

Can’t they just change?

When I was 11, my family had moved to New York City. Prior to that, I was studying in an all-girls convent in Patna.  It was a big change for me.  In the next few years, I would hear new terms such as ‘gay’ ‘lesbian’ ‘homo’. At that age, kids even in a developed country like the United States would use these words to insult their classmates.  I was dumb when it came to sexuality even by Indian small town standards. There was no way I could compare to the exposure these kids had.  I had a friend who was born and brought up there. Intelligent, sensible and empathetic, she used to be my ‘go to’ person for all the questions.  I have blogged about her before.

Me: Why do they have to have such strong feelings. Why can’t they at least try.

Sarah: Try what?

Me: Like assuming a girl is a lesbian. But she is still a girl. Why does she have to like a girl only!  Can’t she at least try to like a boy!

Sarah: Can you like a girl, no matter how much you try?

In my defense, I was just 13-14. But I was lucky to have someone at that tender age with whom I could expose my ignorance, and not be judged.

The movie has done an excellent job explaining what I had asked my friend about 20 years ago.

  • Can kids watch this movie?

The movie has a U/A certificate which means parental guidance advised below the age of 12 years.

My cousin’s daughter is 8. What should I advise her?

 What Bollywood offers in abundance:

Kissing

There are two kissing scenes between the lead pair. But do we not have kissing scenes between the hero and heroine? Do we not take kids for those movies?

Item numbers

We expose  children to songs like ‘Main to tandoori murgi ho yaar, gatka le saiyya alcohol se.’ It is so normalized that we do not even give it a second thought.

Crass humour

Bollywood is full of movies that makes fun of fat people. Dark people. Slapping women was common until now, thanks to Taapsee’s upcoming movie. All Bollywood heroines are so beautiful.  Romance movies which is what Bollywood produces the most are about pretty people falling in love. We expose kids to fat shaming,  skin-color shaming, and the idea that it is important to look good to find love.

When so much of wrong is okay, what is wrong in a love story of two men with a good message?

If I take all this into consideration, I do not see anything wrong in letting kids watch this movie. At least this movie conveys the right message. I hope this is just a start.  There should be so many more.

A plus point for the movie was the way it started.  The lead pair was a couple in love living in Delhi.  There was no explanation. No justification. They were who they were. Without making a point.   I hope there are many more movies that normalize homosexual relationships and not just ‘coming out’ and acceptance.

So would you take your kid?

The only thing that one should consider is if your kid is at an impressionable age, would this be the right medium to expose them to homosexuality? Would you first see the movie yourself then decide? Would you give your child a little background first? Would you let them watch first and answer the questions that get triggered? Or would you do what Indian parents do the best – Forbid them from watching such movies, and convince yourself that they will never get to know about it anyway!

I have also heard  people say that talking about something to children means ‘encouraging them’ so they would rather ignore the topic altogether. Also, I am sure some people feel that kids may get some ‘ideas’ that would end up shaping them so better not take a risk.

I loved a dialogue from the movie.  “Hum na gande log hain na acche log hain. Hum bus log hain.”

I would like answers in the comments. I don’t have any answers because I don’t have children and have no idea how to deal with such situations!

But I do have to give an answer to my cousin…

 

 

Panga: Simple, Honest And Heart Warming!

Panga is a simple movie. But it has a strong message.

Without getting preachy and overdramatic, it narrates the story of a woman who gave up her career when she was at her peak, to raise her baby.

The baby is now 7 years old. Like most children, he knows his mother as Mamma and nothing more. He is however aware that she sells tickets at the railway, a job he considers so insignificant that it is not worth missing his sports day at school.

The mean son is told that Mummy could have been so much more, but she gave it all up to raise him into a healthy boy. The child decides that it is time for Mummy to make a comeback.   The rest of the movie is about her achieving this comeback despite all challenges on the home and sports front.

A comeback after having a child is difficult in any profession. It is more so in case of Jaya Nigam, as she was once an ace Kabaddi player and captain of the Indian team. Going back to work means competing against younger and fitter women.

There is a lot that works for the movie:

The bitter truth

Jaya Nigam says that she feels happy when she looks at her husband and son. But she does not feel happy when she looks at herself.   Yes, motherhood is fulfilling. Marriage is rewarding. But that does not necessarily mean it is everything. A woman’s self-esteem is attached to who she is. And no. She is not somebody’s mother and somebody’s wife. She is someone.

Work life balance for mothers – no balance!

There is a scene in the movie where Jaya’s son tells her that she should have attended his race at school because all other mothers did. He adds that her job is not so important anyway, and she could not even skip it to watch him play.  Children can be mean. They have no idea how much parents sacrifice. They do not realize that the ‘insignificant’ job also sucks up the life out of mothers.

Jaya’s husband, Prashant is loving and caring. He wants her to be happy. He supported her after marriage. But when Prashant realizes that his wife needs to be physically away and he has to take care of the cooking, cleaning and  the child, he worries for himself.

This is the problem. It is not that (most) men are evil and want to destroy their wife’s careers. A lot of them would like to see their wives happy. But the wife pursuing her career means they would have to do a lot more equal household work and parenting and that is what gets inconvenient.The equality that we wish to achieve causes men to give up on the benefits of patriarchy they have enjoyed for years. And that becomes challenging. They have to make a choice. Do they step up ? Or enjoy the status quo?

It takes a village to raise a child

One aspect that I noted was that when Jaya decides to make a comeback at 32, it is not just her husband who is apprehensive but also her mother . The mother becomes supportive later on, but initially the idea is not thrilling to her, probably because her life will also get disrupted as she will be expected to take care of her daughter’s family, at least in parts. A woman needs a lot of support to raise a family and pursue her career. That is why I get annoyed when privileged women make statements like ‘motherhood is not a sacrifice’. Please go and take a look at the average, middle class homes where you have cannot afford day cares and nannies or may not wish to for other reasons. You do have to make a ‘sacrifice’, as much as we may not like burdening this term on the child who never asked to be born. Also, Jaya’s in-laws are completely missing in the picture. Maybe they have been excluded for the sake of simplicity.

Attention to details

The moms have a ‘mothers’ whatsapp group which applies to most schools. Fathers are added when only when mothers are physically not available.

When the family goes to watch the match, Jaya’s concern is that the child’s school days are getting missed.

Jaya’s mother makes besan ka laddu. Jaya who is trying to lose weight had asks her to use jaggery instead of sugar. She complains that the mother did not make gond ka laddu to which she says last time she made it nobody ate and she found it ‘sada hua’.

Real Characters

At one point Jaya says that she was testing her limits. She has reached her limit and now she wants to go back. She is not sure if she will play in the finals and feels it is better the family leaves that wait in disappointment. The husband is supportive for the most part but does stupid things like making a video call to her to seek help when she has a match. These are not people who are always happy or always confident or always strong unlike some other caricatures Bollywoods likes to dump on us. They are human and act differently depending on their moods (like most people). The match sequence is also kept real and there is a lot of ‘waiting’ before anything happens.

 Performances

Kangana has not put on much make-up. Her skin does not look so clear, and she had fat on her face and belly like most women. Kangana is one of the best actresses we have today, and she proved it yet again. She can be the diva in Fashion, the weird one in ‘Judgmental hai kya’ and the girl next door or rather the married woman next door.  She transitions from being the doting mother to the nervous wannabe player to the sports champion.

Jassi Gill as Jaya’s husband is very likeable and believable. I have not seen him before. The child actor, Yagya Bhasin is a star. Neena Gupta with curly hair as Jaya’s mother has a small role but nonetheless a delight to watch.  It is sad that Bollywood does not have much to offer to these gifted actors. Richa Chadhha as Meenu is funny. She is the opposite of Jaya – the woman who is single and pursued her career without any distractions. The other characters, Nisha Das, the coach and the ‘bhabhi’ neighbor who watches the son have all done very well.

Watch this movie to get inspired. Watch it to know that it is okay to not feel enough. Watch it to know that it is okay to take a panga with yourself and push your limits.

 

Good Newzz: Indeed Good News For Bollywood. Ghost Stories Is Disgusting

Good Newzz

Without wasting any time, Good Newzz gets straight to the point. Kareena and Akshay play Mr. and Mrs. Batra, an urban working couple who has just started trying for a baby after giving necessary time to their careers and marriage.

In India, good news is synonymous with pregnancy. Everybody wants to hear the good news the moment a couple gets married. Is this term used so generously for pregnancy in other countries also? I don’t think so.  The title therefore is apt.

As with most couples today, once they start trying they realize that it is not easy.  As you would have seen from the trailers, a mix up happens during the IVF procedure, and the sophisticated Batra couple are introduced to the loud Batra couple, played by Kiara Advani and Diljit Dosanjh. The premise is fresh and gives enough scope for comedy and drama. Here is what worked for me:

  1. Real couples

Akshay and Kareena’s characters are constantly bickering. I hate mushy mushy romance movies that Bollywood does not seem to grow out of. Here we have a real couple with real problems. The relatives hovering on Kareena during a family wedding, giving unsolicited advice on visiting doctors and babas, Akshay Kumar wondering if they really want to have a baby or just want it for society because it is the right thing to do, it is all very realistic.

2. Natural reactions

All four characters seem justified in the way they react to what has happened. Nobody is good or evil. All are just regular people trying to deal with an unexpected problem.

3. Superb performances

Akshay Kumar is very spontaneous. I wonder why he has to do movies like Housefull when he can do good comedies like this. Kareena is effective. I liked her speech on pregnancy. Kiara looks very pretty. The last time I saw her was in Kabir Singh where I found her annoying. She seems at ease with a comic role. I saw Diljit in a movie for the first time. He is a gifted actor . Very expressive. Adil Hussain and Tisca Chopra are entertaining as the doctor couple. I liked the fact that Akshay Kumar has a crush on Tisca Chopra, his doctor! It was a welcome relief that the a Bollywood actor liked someone close to his age, unlike the stupid movies which show 45 year old men lusting after 20-something girls.  Tisca looks beautiful as usual.

Overall, it was an entertaining, light movie with songs, and the emotional drama was just the right about. It never went over the top. It was better than most recent movies.

Ghost stories – Netflix

  1. Zoya Akhtar’s story

This is the best story in the movie. In fact, it would be a good idea to stop watching after this story. Jahanvi Kapoor has done well. Surekha Sikri is a brilliant actress, so no surprises there. The story has some meaning I guess.  The two women are waiting for someone who may never come and wasting time . Time which is precious because youth and life, once lost never come back.

2. Anurag Kashyap’s and Dipankar Banerjee’s story

I don’t have words to describe how disgusting I found these two stories. I had my eyes closed during Dipankar Banerjee’s story. It was supposed to be some kind of a metaphor I guess for how rich, powerful people destroy the poor. Whatever, doesn’t matter. The visuals were vomit inducing. I love watching Netflix because it is not censored the way movies in theatre or television are. But for Anurag Kashyap’s movie I wish they had cut out Sobhita’s bathroom scene. It is embarrassing that such weird content is there on Netflix and people from other countries can also watch this non-sense and judge us. They could have done so much better with all the creative liberty possible and this is what they come up with!!

3. Karan Johar’s story

Silly as always. No matter what the genre is, Karan Johar manages to maintain the silliness. There is a marriage, a big family, and a song!  I guess it is all about loving your grandparents!

A horrible movie to start new year’s with! Don’t watch if you haven’t already!

 

Why ‘The Sky Is Pink’ Will Make You Cry

It is based on a true story

Aisha Chaudhary was a real person, born to Aditi Chaudhary and Niren Chaudhary, and sister of Ishaan Chaudhary. Google her name and you will find images and videos of this cute and strong girl, and her loving family.

There is no limit to tragedy

We like to believe that we are not those unlucky people to whom bad things would happen for no reason. If something does happen, one at least hopes it is the only bad thing that would ever happen.

But is it true?

There is a scene in the movie when Aditi holds baby Aisha. Well-meaning and wise elders comfort her .

“He is God. He will not give the same pain again”.

They are wrong.  Aditi and Niren lost their first born, a daughter at eight months to the same illness to which they would lose their third child, Aisha at eighteen.

We hear about people. We know that lady who lost her husband. And then her son the very next year. The man who got divorced. And then killed himself because he was too depressed when his second marriage did not work out.

Life is beautiful. But it can also be very cruel.

Being positive does not cure, but it helps

The movie will remind you that being optimistic helps in dealing with things better. It helps you make the most of the days. But whatever is meant to happen will still happen.  A sweet girl like Aisha would not survive as much as everyone would pray for her.

However, some experiences in life truly makes you feel alive and happy.  For example, when Aisha goes sea diving even if it was for a minute.  Maybe we cannot control what happens. But we can try to increase such moments of joys.

Umaraan main sariya jee leeyaan

The song at the end

I was already crying a lot by the end of the movie. When they started showing real pictures of the family, it was just too sad. The song played in the background was composed by Aisha’s brother. I am sharing a link which has the lyrics.  It is a beautiful song with great music and uplifting lyrics.

Other things

In the movie, Aisha refers to her parents as Moose and Panda. I found it annoying. She also keeps mentioning their ‘sex life’ which I found annoying. That’s it. No other negative points.

Everybody has acted very well. Priyanka Chopra is more expressive.  Farhan Akhtar is restrained. Together they make a great couple. The movie follows their life from the time they are in their 20s till their 50s. But other than the hairstyle, they both look the same. Maybe that was still better than coloring their hair grey and giving them glasses like most other movies. I don’t know.

There are no unnecessary songs. The movie shows the struggles of the family in a very genuine way. It looks very real. The impact is effective. It will stay with you. Long after the movie finishes.

Aisha’s Ted Talks

Do watch it when you get a chance. I especially loved a line where she says,

When you fail at everything in life, get a pet’.

I watched some videos of the Chaudhary family. Hard working, loving, brave parents who gave the best possible to their daughter.

Aisha’s legacy continues. With her book, ‘My Little Ephinanies’ .  With the movie, ‘The Sky Is Pink’. With her Ted Talks. With her parents. With her brother.

With everyone who is thinking about her.

 

Bala: Par Badalna Kyun Hai?

I had watched Udja Chaman couple of weeks back.  I was wondering why there are two movies with the same concept releasing around the same time. Of course, Ayushman Khurana being more popular, his movie was more awaited.

Both movies have a different story though based on the same theme.

There has been a trend in Bollywood where small town movies have become very likable.  The makers of the movie catch the small town feel perfectly with the language, clothes and the little nuances.  Bala is no exception.  There are three main characters:

Bala

A bald man who is otherwise good-looking, and was good-looking growing up but now has a complex about his receding hairline. He would do anything to get the hair back and tries all kinds of remedies. He is a salesman by profession and conducts seminars to sell fairness creams by making dark-skinned women realize how inadequate and undesirable they are.

‘Kanpur ki sari ladkiyon ko unki badsoorati ka ehsaas dilao!’

Yes ladies. This is what all beauty products, fashion magazines, cosmetic advertisements, beauty parlours do – Make us feel ugly, reinforce our “flaws” so they can earn money.

Latika

A dark-skinned woman who grew up playing the repulsive Kubja in school.  She has spent most of her life being called dark and ugly.  She has learnt to accept herself for who she is, and she rebels against the societal norms.

‘Who gets to decide what I should look like!’ She growls.

She is intelligent, confident and a practicing lawyer.

Pari

A fair skinned, beautiful girl who has become a Tik Tok sensation overnight. She has gained fame because of her beauty and she is aware that the only thing she has is her looks.

‘Looks mein no compromise!’ She believes.

‘Dikhawa hi meri zindagi hai’.

What makes this movie stand out for me, is the fact that it remained honest to its characters.

How important is looks?

I guess this question in answered differently by those who have it and those who don’t. Of course, everybody has their own definition of what they find attractive but there are some universally acceptable standards of beauty.  Being short, fat, dark-skinned, bald may not be considered attractive. There is the pain of dealing with your own insecurities and complex. Very few people in the world are flawless.  Most people will have something to cry about – a fat nose,  acne,  weight, height, skin colour. Something that was told to them from their very childhood. Something that held them back from being good-looking. Bala obsessed about growing his hair back. He covers his mirror in a way that he cannot see the baldness. He wears a cap. He does not hate everything about himself. If only he could change that one thing…

I remember a friend from my school, who was conscious of her big nose. She used to tell me that as a kid she was afraid her nose would get so big it would cover her entire face. Every time she saw her photos all she could see was her nose. We all have that one thing we wish we could change…

You have such a sweet face, if only you could lose the body weight..

She has such nice features, but rang se maat kha jati hai…

He is so cute..Poor guy.. If only he had some height..

Face is pretty! But the pimples..

Click my side profile, from the front my face is too chubby.

But does anybody get to design their face and body on Paint Brush that it would be perfect?

We struggle with with our own complexes with our appearance.  To add to that, we have to find a partner who we have to look at every day, sleep with, make babies with, and grow old with.  How important is that person’s looks?

The arranged marriage

Few years ago, a bunch of my friends in late 20s were discussing the rishtas we were getting.

A friend of mine rejected a guy who she didn’t find good-looking. The guy had a good job, good family, everything else was a plus.

“Aap  khud kya Aishwarya Rai hain?”. Her father demanded.

The generation that met on the day of the marriage, accepted the spouse as Bhagwan ki marzi and shadi to nibhana hai may not understand.

Wise cousins of her the girl who were married to not so good-looking but good, caring, men were trying to tell her that looks is secondary.   The girl said asked how could she marry someone who she doesn’t even like to look at. How will she ever feel attracted to him? Won’t that cause problems in the marriage? What if she does not fall in love with his good qualities after marriage? Or worse… He does not even have any, and he is not even someone she liked in the first place!!

Another guy said he has rejected girls he didn’t find attractive because otherwise the marriage would not work.  It would not be fair to him. It would not be fair to the girl.

A short girl wants a tall husband because she has been told with her height she would not get one, and she wants to prove people wrong…

A dark-skinned man wants a fair-skinned girl because he has carried the shame all his life. He wants his wife to redeem himself..

Is it wrong to reject someone based on looks? Is it right to marry someone you don’t find attractive?  Doesn’t everybody deserve to be with someone they find at least decent looking? Are we even comfortable with our own looks before we get to decide how acceptable somebody else looks?

What works in the movie

Spoiler alert

The pretty girl will not see the hero’s heart. She will see his bald head.

Yami Gautam is brilliant as the small-town girl whose life revolves around looking pretty and getting likes on social media.  Whatever she has achieved in life is because of her looks. She does not change. Call her shallow if you want. But this is what happens in real life.

The not so pretty girl refuses to be a second choice

Latika is no Anjali from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai who will remember her barso purana pyaar and reject a man who loves her in the present for some idiot who she loved and got rejected by in the past.   When I saw Bhumi’s black, painted face I was annoyed. She looked so unnatural. I was angry that they could not find one dark-skinned woman in India for this role. But when she acts,  she has so much spunk that it is always a joy to watch her, despite the painted face.

The hero will learn to love himself

Mard ko dard hota hai. Men get rejected. Men are also treated badly for the way they look. The love of Bala’s life says Eww to him and leaves him. How will he live with himself knowing that?

He will.  For you cannot make someone love you forcibly. You cannot make a Pari like you.  But a Latika may be able to appreciate you. But irrespective of the Paris, and the Latikas, you need to learn to love yourself first.

And once you do, you automatically become attractive to others.

 

Section 375: Law Vs Justice: An Engaging Court Room Battle

A middle-class woman, a junior costume designer goes to the house of a rich director, with whom she works to show him some designs. He asks her to sit next to him.  She complies. He asks the maid to leave.  Next thing we know, the woman files rape charges against him.

His wife, approaches a competent lawyer, played by Akshay Khanna to defend him. The prosecutor is played by Richha Chaddha. What follows is a courtroom battle on the law of rape in India.

Important issues the movie raises:

  • Law does not equal to justice

 

  • As per the section, if it is established that a man has sexual intercourse with a woman with whom he is in a position of power, and the woman alleges that the intercourse is not consensual, then the onus is on the man to prove himself innocent. In other words, guilty until proven innocent. Lawyer friends, please discuss this aspect. I am aware of the law of POSH but not too sure of the sections of IPC

 

  • Social media is a double-edged sword. It is a privilege that today we have the voice to raise concern against anyone and within seconds the world gets to know.  Only two people know what happened between them.   But with social media, the public gives a verdict without knowing the facts.  It is also relevant for the Metoo movement.

 

  • Women who misuse the law are the biggest disgrace to the women who actually need the law

Rahul Bhatt plays the role of the accused rapist.  I remember him from a television show, Heena. In that serial also he played a spineless character. He  does such roles very well.  Meera Chopra plays the woman accusing him of rape. I have never seen her before. It was a delight to watch Sandhya Mridul as Akshay Khanna’s wife. Shriswara as the wife of the accused rapist is very convincing.  Kishore Kadam as one of the judges is a natural actor and his annoyance at the whole situation has a good comic timing. This would not be Richa Chadhha’s best performance, I would say.  Akshay Khanna is brilliant.  It is again a reminder what an underrated actor he is. And how Bollywood has not done justice to him.

The movie is very engaging and crisp.  I would not like to give away more as the movie has just released. Most feminists have written against the movie that it dismisses Metoo.  I do not think so. Let us be objective. There are all kinds of cases. Filmmakers have the creative liberty to tell any story they wish to tell. Watch it and decide for yourself what is your takeaway.

Mission Mangal: Entertaining, Inspiring and Feel Good

This review has spoilers.  So, if you have not watched yet, please come back.  Not that it is a murder mystery and I will reveal anything suspenseful. Just a warning for  people who do not like to know much about the movie before watching it.

Mission Mangal is a complete entertainer.  It has emotions, comedy, patriotism, and knowledge!  The film works because it is about achieving a dream by overcoming struggles, with limited resources, and limited money. Something all of us can relate to.

Simplification of facts.

India’s Mars mission is something too technical for a lay man / woman to understand. In the movie, they have given simple examples to explain the concept.  I found it nice because otherwise I would not have understood anything.  Don’t know how scientists would feel about it.  I guess those who wanted a more scientific, technical understanding should watch a documentary.

Portrayal of women

The movie shows us the personal lives of the women and how they are managing their home and work.  The characters are shown a little unsure of themselves in the beginning, and even disinterested but later they become dedicated and smart.

I read a book about women in workforce. It was written that women hesitate to take up new responsibilities for which they may not have the skill-set experience. For the same kind of an opportunity, a man who has 30 percent skill-set will project himself to have 70 % skill-set, appear confident and take it up.  The woman may have 50 percent skill-set but she will say she has limited experience and may turn it down.  So I am not surprised that the women (exept Vidya Balan) were shown to have self-doubt in the beginning. It is not unheard of.

The movie starts with Vidya Balan doing household work and managing her kids.  Her maid has not showed up.  She is doing everything.

What is wrong in showing reality?

For most of us women, the day starts with household work. Then we get ready and go to work. Is she saying ‘Wow! Chulha Chauka yay! I am a superwoman’!  No she is not glorifying it. But she is still doing it.  Because she has no choice.

Vidya Balan gets the idea of saving fuel while her cook is frying pooris. She talks about using resources allocated from another project to which Akshay Kumar says that women do not waste anything – “Raat ka khana breakfast mein doosre form mein”.  I did not find  the remark sexist. Rather it made me smile. I had just reused leftover steamed rice to make schezwan fried rice that day!

At some point Vidya decided to resign from her job,  feeling guilty for her past failure and doubtful about future capabilities.  At another point, she tells her husband that she loves her job and he better not try to make her feel guilty about neglecting home and kids.

She is not confused. She is real. Sometimes she is confident. Sometimes assertive. And sometimes, sad and ready to give up.  These little things made the character human.

Sanjay Kapoor’ character is permanently cribbing. He is always making his wife feel guilty for neglecting her house and kids and giving importance to the job. But the husbands of other two women have been shown as supportive.

The way they are dressed

I have seen women from ISRO in saris. I have seen lawyers wear saris in courts.  I have seen doctors wear saris in hospitals.  I have seen women wear saris in MNCs.  We live in India. What is the surprise about!

A lot of us wear bindi and salwar kamiz / sari to office.  With pride.  Doesn’t make us anything less. We are proud of the sari.

Why Akshay Kumar is there in the movie

Writers have objected as to why Akshay Kumar was necessary in the movie. Why not just a female team.  I did not like this objection. There were men in the original team. Obviously. His character does not take any credit from the women characters. In fact, he does not have any ideas at all!! It is the women who give the ideas. For a commercial movie, stardom matters and his fan following has definitely helped.

Acting

Vidya Balan was brilliant. I liked Dilip Tahil too as the NRI NASA snob and Nithya Menon.  Kirti Kulhari seemed to be carrying on her role from Pink. No novelty. But the last time I saw her was in Four more shots so this was still way better! Sharman Joshi’s character was too stupid to be believable. Sonakshi Sinha got an opportunity to be the ‘modern’ one here, a change from her other movies.  I felt like Tapsee towards the second half of the movie had forgotten that she is supposed to be a timid, traditional, fragile little thing and was acting completely ‘normal’.

In her opening scene, Tapsee accidentally grabs the crotch of the male driver teaching her how to drive. This scene was supposed to be funny. It was gross and I wish they realized this.

Portrayal of religion

I had read posts about how the movie mocks Hindu rituals and astrology. I did not feel so.  The ‘Mangal bhari hai’ angle of Sharman Joshi was just a pun. They were trying to be clever and funny.  I was not offended.  It had context. What did not have any context was the sub-plot of Vidya Balan’s son trying to convert’ something  her husband objects to strongly. How was this relevant to the story? Also, Neha Siddiqui not being able to get a house on rent?  Why bring unnecessary angles of discrimination which add no value to the plot!

Patriotism

The photos of Late Shri Abdul Kalam in the movie and his story, the photos of the real Mangalyaan team at the end of the movie,  Modi ji’s speech and the clapping in the theatre made me feel joy. The last time I felt so was after watching Uri. Before that Airlift.

For this reason,  I would give rate this movie a really high rating.  Watch it to know what India is capable of. Limited budget. Limited time.  But we did it!  We made it!

Judgemental Hai Kya – Enjoyable and Fun Watch

The name of the movie originally was ‘Mental hai kya’ until the  Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) made them change it, since they received complaints that it was too harsh.

The term ‘mental’ was used to describe people who were believed to have some mental issues.  When I was growing up, we heard it and used it too.  I did too, because there was no awareness back then. We did not know that using such terms was insensitive, and wrong.

People had objected to the title of the movie – writers, psychologists.  Without watching the movie. Without knowing anything about the intent of the makers of the movie.  Having a title that is a stereotype,  and contradicting it with the plot to reach a conclusion is a common technique used in movies, stories and even articles.

‘Judgmental hai kya’ sounded stupid in the context.  The original title would have been good.

Moving on,  Kangana plays Bobby, a woman who has been through traumatic events in her childhood, so much that it has affected her. Understandably. We are given enough reasons to empathize with her. So we are not judging her anyway.

As per the published Global Study on Homicide: Gender-related Killing of Women and Girls released by The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) a total of 87,000 women were intentionally killed in 2017. More than half of them (58 per cent) ̶ 50,000 ̶ were killed by intimate partners or family members.

The idea of a husband murdering his wife is beyond horrifying. But it happens. A lot. Is it funny when a paranoid person keeps accusing an innocent man of being interested in killing his wife. But who is innocent? Who is paranoid? We know that one of the two, Keshav (Rajkumar Rao) or Bobby (Kangana) is the “psycho” one. But who is it?

This is a cleverly made movie, with elements of humour, especially with Bobby’s wannabe boyfriend  who never gets laid and her Photoshop obsessions.  I loved how they used Bobby’s job of a dubbing artist to move the story forward.

Rajkumar Rao is very good, as usual. Amyra Dastur (Reema) did not have much to do, except look pretty.  Amrita Puri as Megha needs to improve on her dialogue delivery. It is annoying to hear her speak. She brought a certain gullibility and lack of intelligence to her character, as someone who could be easily fooled, giving away the suspense! Jimmy Shergil, one of the most underrated actors has a small role, but nonetheless it is nice to see him.

Kangana Ranaut has unconventional looks. She refuses to straighten her wild curls. She talks differently.  She is original! Unlike the other actresses who just look like a clone of each other! This distinct style of hers make it easy for her to slip into the ‘Bollywood mad’ character as a lot of people find her ‘crazy’. Remember Tanu Weds Manu part 2 –  hospital / asylum scene in the beginning(Again not me. I love her!).  All of this works well for her in the movie. The casting is therefor apt.   She is brilliant as Bobby! I cannot think of any other actress who can pull this off.

Kangana haters have been active lately.  She is a good example of how you should be honest to yourself and do what you believe in. Haters keep hating. But if you are good at what you do,  people know that you matter.

It is definitely not a boring movie. It will hold your attention. Kangana haters better to avoid or wait till it is on AltBalaji!

Author’s Note: The words ‘crazy’, ‘mad’ ‘psycho’ and ‘mental’ used in the article are not meant to offend anybody but to make a point.  These are not nice words and let us not use them for anyone.

When They See Us: The Latest Show On Netflix Will Break Your Heart

After a long time,  I felt so angry watching something on TV.   The new series on Netflix, ‘When They See Us’ is a true story of five boys who got wrongly convicted for a brutal crime they did not commit.

Some things are painful to watch because we do not want to accept that something like this could happen.  We would like to believe in justice. We would like to believe that the legal system works. That there should be evidence to prove a crime.   That if you are innocent, you cannot be put in jail for years. But anything can happen… as we see.  Do search for the true story, after watching the show.

This show is very sensitively made.   It is a mini series – four episodes.  The five kids have done a brilliant job. Your heart will break for them.  And for the helplessness of their parents who watched their kids lose their respect, freedom, youth, dreams and life.  The grown up actors have also done a great job.   A side plot of a transgender character is also very touching.

Some characters I recognized from other shows:

Felicity Huffman

She is Lynette from Desperate Housewives .  She plays the head of the sex crime unit. This character is so convinced of her wrongdoing.   No sign of regret. No empathy. No conscience whatsoever.  It is said that if you say a lie often enough it become the truth. I read the person on whom this character is based has written crime novels that became bestsellers. Such is the unfairness of life.

At one point the character says:

“It is no longer about justice but politics. Politics is about survival. And there is nothing fair about survival.” 

Powerful. Sums is up

Vera Farmiga

She plays the Assistant DA.  This is the first time that my husband recognized someone and I did not! She portrayed Lorraine Warren in the Conjuring series. It seems this character is aware that the charges are false, but she goes ahead with it anyway.

The actual person is this case is now a law lecturer. It seems she would not seek reappointment in her position, owing to her portrayal in the whose and the consequent outrage.

These characters are not said to be ‘racist’  on the show explicitly.  There are mentions of Donald Trump though who had spent on advertisements demanding the death penalty following the boys’ arrest.

Dascha Polanco

It is interesting that she played Dayanara in the famous prison series ‘Orange is The New Black’. Here, she is very mean to one of the boys  to whom she plays a step mom.  She is so spontaneous with her dialogues, hurling one insult after another another to him for being an ex-convict!  It made me smile because I remember her as Daya in jail!

At the end of the show, they tell us where Kevin, Antron, Yusef, Raymond and Korey are now, and what they did once they got out of prison.  The episode of Korey is the most heart-wrenching to watch. How these men managed to keep their sanity intact and build up their lives is commendable.

‘You are not who they said you are! Do not become that.’  says Raymond’s father.  To be a good person despite hating the world for what they did to you is not easy.

Another dialogue that touched me was when a girl said to one of the guys that if she got out of prison, she would want to go out and do things. He tells her ‘You would not know what you would want’.

So true.  We always like to put ourselves in other people shoes and decide what we would do in their place. But we are not in their shoes. We would not know…

There is so much more I want to write but since this show is a week old, I do not want to spoil it for others.

Watch it and let me know your views.