Bombay Showcase

Girls’ night out

The situation is nothing unusual, has been attempted in films before. People leave their “regular” lives behind, travel, go for a picnic, bond and bicker and soon enough, secrets, happiness and frustration, ups and downs come tumbling out of the closet. In Pan Nalin’s Angry Indian Goddesses, we have a set of women friends –– Suranjana, Nargis, Joanna, Madhureeta, Pam –– who gather at their buddy Freida’s (Sarah-Jane Dias) family home for her impending wedding.

Each one’s demon

The film is structured around the many conversations and interactions at this bachelorette party. All might be well on the surface but the problems begin to emerge as they talk on. Each is battling her own demon. Suranjana (Sandhya Mridul) is a mother with an absent husband and a lonely child, Maya.

Burnt out by the demanding job, she has also crossed swords with land rights activist Nargis (Tannishtha Chatterjee). Then there’s Jo (Amrit Maghera), the romantic dreamer, who, despite her pronounced British accent, wants to make a career in Bollywood. Madhureeta (Anushka Manchanda) is caught in a singing career on the downward spiral and the caretaker-help Lakshmi (Rajshri Deshpande) is fighting a legal battle for eight years to get her brother’s killer behind bars, without success.

Some of these stories ring true, others not as much.

Punjabi girl Pam’s (Pavleen Gujral) outburst stands out. A good housewife, who wants to start a business, Pam is saddled with a husband who she can’t tune well with and demanding in-laws who dream of a grandchild. Hearing her speak about her hollow life, you can’t help but feel deeply sympathetic.

Women on the edge

These are women on the edge. So, most of the times things do go over the top, the screaming and shouting gets overdone and the hyper-energetic camera and quick cuts add to the madness. But eventually, you do feel for the characters when they are just sitting together and having a “regular” conversation. The fact that the parts are played by competent actresses –– Sandhya and Tannishtha to just name two –– helps, but the pleasure is in discovering the new names. Pavleen Gujral is a revelation and Sarah-Jane Dias shows admirable poise.

As most “women’s” films in India are prone to, things escalate a bit too fast and turn violent towards the end, the finale gets extreme, melodramatic and heavy-handed.

Ironical that it’s the vigilante justice of the Angry Young Man kinds that adds to the popular appeal of Angry Indian Goddesses.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 2:58:36 PM |

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