Angry Indian Goddesses is a upcoming Hindi drama film, directed by Pan Nalin with Sandhya Mridul, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sarah-Jane Dias, Anushka Manchanda, Amrit Maghera, Rajshri Deshpande and Pavleen Gujral playing lead roles with Adil Hussain.
Angry Indian Goddesses is a upcoming Hindi drama film, directed by Pan Nalin with Sandhya Mridul, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sarah-Jane Dias, Anushka Manchanda, Amrit Maghera, Rajshri Deshpande and Pavleen Gujral playing lead roles with Adil Hussain. less
“While it could have been an impressive feminist tale, amateurish direction puts a dent.”
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Twenty minutes into Pan Nalin’s ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’, I was practically wringing my wrists in despair. The film introduces us to the bunch of characters that are the protagonists. One is an actress of British origin trying to make it big in Bollywood: she is bluntly told by her director that she has been chosen not for her acting skills but for her physique (artificially padded to make her look bustier.) One is a professional photographer who is shooting an ad for a fairness cream company, whose execs pass lewd remarks about the dark-skinned model. One is a singer who is singing a classy romantic song at a club where a bunch of drunken men throw rubbish at her and ask her to sing a crude item song. One is a corporate boss who is arranging funds worth Rs. 3000 crore from abroad but her subordinates seem clueless about their job. These portions are so terrible in their use of extreme broad strokes that they bear an uncanny resemblance with something Madhur Bhandarkar would make.
After the credits sequence that follows, we learn that these characters are all friends from their college days, and have gathered at a quaint house in Goa because the photographer Frieda (the perennially underutilized Sarah Jane-Dias, in the film’s best performance) is getting married. The film oscillates between two paths from here on – one, where it unfussily portrays the casual buddy-bonding conversations between the group; the other, where the film wants to concern itself with “important issues”. The film works best when it sticks to the former path – there are surprisingly effective moments which I frankly didn’t see coming after the disaster that is the opening portions of the film; such as the one where the boyfriend (played by Arjun Mathur) of one of the girls – the singer – barges in on their party. He enters and questions why she hasn’t answered his phone calls when she was to return home two days back for a meeting for a music album deal, she’s clearly very annoyed at his presence and leaves the room. The scene threatens to paint him in a negative light – the typical possessive-asshole boyfriend – but the film subtly reveals that he’s only there to make sure she’s fine because she’s shown suicidal tendencies in the past.
That scene, along with a handful of others, is an engaging fare (largely helped by fine performances) because they also highlight the internal battles that women have to fight – battle that can’t be conveniently blames on the antagonistic “other” but are a result of the inherent messiness of life itself. But the portions where the film wants to deal with “issues” fall flat on their face because this is the kind of film where the characters sit at the dinner table and discuss issues rather than deal with them, and thus cease to become characters and become a surrogate for the director lecturing the audience.
Burgeoning “women’s issues” which you regularly see in newspapers – about the society judging women for smoking and drinking, for wearing the cloths they want to wear, for choosing career over the traditionally assigned housewife roles – are perfunctorily alluded to and discarded. ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ makes me admire Navdeep Singh’s ‘NH10’ even more – that was a film which very cleverly weaves the same subject matter into its genre-movie structure without ever assuming the tone of a message-movie. It allows the filmmaker to convey his point across without directly pontificating to the viewer. ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’, however, is closer in spirit to another “women’s issue” film – that absolutely terrible short film ‘That Day After Everyday’ by Anurag Kashyap. (Here, too, Sandhya Mridul plays a badass woman who must turn to violence and who has enrolled her daughter for martial arts training for self-defense purpose.) Granted, the film makes the “correct” points, but it would have helped a great deal had it not been this artless in getting its point across.
Oh, and no review of this film can be complete without a special mention for the dimwitted idiots warming the chairs at the censor board office. At a press meet at the recently concluded NFDC Film Bazaar, Hon. I&B; (state) minister Rajyawardhan Rathore declared to the ultra-liberal film festival crowd at Marriott in Goa that they are planning to entirely do away with censorship. At one point in the film, the word “government” is muted. Elsewhere, the word “lunch” is left out. Despite this being an ‘A’ (Adults only) certified film, numerous instances of “fuck”/”fucking” are muted. It really makes me wonder if these morons (due respect) really feel that muting a word ensures that no one in the audience makes out what’s being said and their sanctity thus remains intact. If someone made a film about these good souls sitting at the dinner table and discussing issues, that’s something I’d gladly pay to watch.