I was extremely happy when this movie released after so much struggle with the censor board. I had decided to not miss it in the theatre and we went for the 10 am show today. Was happy to note that the theatre was almost full at that hour.
The movie stars Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak, Aahana Kumra, Plabita Borthakur, Sushant Singh, Vikrant Massey and Shashank Arora.
There is so much I want to say about the movie. Yes, it is a "lady oriented" film, whatever the censor board means by that. I guess it means that this movie realistically portrays women of all ages and that is reason enough for it to get most men's and some women's knickers in a twist.
A 50 year old who reads erotica??? OMG. And wants to have sex? With a man half her age? How dare she!!! That is ridiculous. Whoever heard of people having sex with other people half their age.
There is a woman having an affair with another man while her mother has arranged her marriage against her wishes to a 'well settled' guy? That NEVER happens. Ever. And she likes to have sex? Rubbish. Her libido may even be more than the men around her? Now, that is just impossible.
A teenager who lies and steals to feel cool in college? I NEVER did that. In fact, I did not have a mobile phone, unknown to my parents, earned from a part time job at a call centre to keep in touch with my boyfriend and friends. And I didn't steal money from them so I could chat online for hours in cyber cafes. And I never swore on my mother to her face that I didn't have a boyfriend. And I didn't take care to never get caught because the only escape from the shackles was a master's degree and a good job which would lead to financial independence. And I did not almost get caught many, many times but lied my way out of those situations.
A wife and mother whose husband won't let her work because he is the "man" of the house, however useless he may be. And marital rape never happens in this country. I mean, everyone will believe them if they speak up about it. Right?
Some scenes that struck a chord:
- Ratna Pathak is called buaji by everyone. When she is asked for her name, for a moment she can't recall it. That is so striking. Do we think of women after a certain age as normal human beings? It shocks us when we realise they have sexual desires.
- Aahana's fiance finds her clip having sex with her boyfriend on her phone. Her first reaction is "How dare you go through my phone?" Valid point. Years and years back, in another lifetime actually, a friend called me crying hysterically on the phone. Her husband (arranged marriage) had hacked her email and found her old emails to ex boyfriends and was convinced she wasn't a virgin when they got married. She wanted me to speak to him and validate the existence of the virginity. My first reaction was "how dare he go through your emails?" His reply was that he had every right to go through her mails and how dare she hide her past from him. Umm, we all are free to reveal and conceal whatever we want about our lives. I don't think we owe anyone the unblemished truth about anything.
- My thought when Plabita's parents found out about her transgressions was "stupid, stupid girl. Never get caught". And when her parents stopped her from going to college, I thought "there goes all your freedom. Your life is over". As a teenager, I lied to my parents and I lied to my friends because it was hard to explain the small town mentality to those living in a big city. Why I couldn't wear sleeveless or talk to boys or go out for movies with my friends sounded ridiculous when said aloud.
The movie does not offer any answers or solutions. It ends with all 4 women having a laugh while reading an erotic novel and sharing a smoke. So many people have protested the smoking. "Ugh", they said "smoking isn't cool. Stop making it a symbol of progress and empowerment". In every movie where the actor is macho or villainous or a gangster, he is shown smoking and yet nobody protests. Ever. Smoking is a symbol of "cool" here but try doing that for women and everyone has a point of view. People who smoke, do it because it's cool. By the time they realise it isn't, they are dying with cancer. Men do it. Women do it. So there is nothing out of place with that scene.
Go watch this movie. If we don't support it, we will only get brainless shit like Dunkirk or worse, another Khan flick. This is one of the few festival films which has managed to pull in so many crowds.