• How Angry Indian Goddesses is cracking the shell on gender challenges

    Internationally acclaimed documentary film-maker and writer/director Pan Nalin is quite in news these days. Its for his latest feast for mainstream cinema called ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’, starring
    Sandhya Mridul, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sarah-Jane Dias, Anushka Manchanda, Amrit Maghera, Rajshri Deshpande and Pavleen Gujral. It is a story that explores the lives of women from various roles and demographics of India and the everyday gender challenges that they face. Basically, its about everyday feminism.

    Prachi Sharma, a student of Women’s Centred Practices at Tata Institute of Social Sciences remarked, “It wasn’t cinematic brilliance, but it was right at the mark”, and I couldn’t agree more. The movie wasn’t understating women’s issues in any way, and neither was it overdone. All the characters represented different stages of a woman’s life. There was a woman who was trying to make a career but couldn’t cope with workplace sexism. Another couple had just come out of the closet and, while there was another, alpha woman who is a success at the workplace and a strict mother. The two characters that were my most favorite was that character of a stereotypical housewife, and the domestic help in the house where the scene it set.

    The opposing dualities of all these characters was something that not only shattered age old norms which the society imposes on us, but also recreated the new reality of today’s times. You couldn’t relate to one character completely, there was something relatable about every character, just like it is in actual life. The crazy musician with bipolar tendencies is most religious of them all, while the domestic help has the strongest opinions in the group. The way in which the movie captures the guilt of the alpha woman, who realizes how distant she had grown from her own daughter in course of her career pursuits, is almost real. The moment she connects herself to this reality, she is also able to make the right decision at work, which not only affects her, but the lives of many other people who she had stopped considering in her own selfish pursuits.

    The movie also faced some serious censorship, where even sentences like “sarkar kaun hoti hai decide karne vaali” (who is the government to decide?) was muted, a lesbian love-making scene was dropped, and male objectification by women couldn’t make it to the theatre. Even images of Hindu goddesses were blurred out. Despite all of that, it had an ‘A’ Rating. We can conclude that there was gender discrimination at the censor board as well. And why not, there are only 5 women in a 23 member Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), more commonly known as the ‘Censor’ board.

    The words and sentences that were censored from the film can be watched here.

    The only one thing that I could not understand was the end, where women are showcased as their stereotypical understanding of vindictive, irrational self. Although, the other inference could also be that it’s high time, and oppressors need to stop or deal with immediate action, most likely driven by long piling rage.

    While this movie ain’t no crash-course for men in feminism, it will give them some insight on what happens in their ladies’ lives when they are not around.