Angry Indian Goddesses review: This gorgeous film peers right into women's soul

Angry Indian Goddesses is a tale of female fraternizing done with a rush of humour

Subhash K Jha December 03, 2015 17:14:29 IST
Angry Indian Goddesses review: This gorgeous film peers right into women's soul

For all the perverts out there who think it’s their birth-right to peer up women’s skirts, here’s a film that peers right into women’s souls, and seven of them. They're all so grandly scripted they seem to have walked into the film from our lives.

Every one of the seven female protagonists are by actresses who were born to be their characters. They are so sharply written, I came away thinking of them as people whose lives I’d like to know more about.

The temptation to share details from the dexterous script is immense. This is the kind of cinema where scenes, situations, dialogues and moments would be discussed for years to come. But let’s not jump the gun. Let's meet the protagonists. There is Frieda, no, not Pinto. This is Sara-Jane Dias' character, and she's a far better actress than Ms Pinto. And speaks much better Hindi than Lisa Hayden.

Angry Indian Goddesses review This gorgeous film peers right into womens soulI bring up Ms Dias’ qualities because her intrinsic gorgeousness is paramount to the plot, as paramount as the Goan setting where these unstoppable, merry-making women thresh out their inner conflicts without letting the film’s resplendent surface suffer the sins of excessive conflict .

Indeed, this film magically converts cerebration into a celebration of womanhood. When the ladies sit down to talk about the discrimination and abuse they face every day, the atmosphere is not submerged in and burdened by polemics. The tone even when driven by somberness is constantly bright and endearing.

These are women who talk a relatable language, never mind the unwarranted censoring. They still make their point. You can’t put this irrepressible bunch of girls down. Each one of Pan Nalin’s heroines is memorable and beautiful in her own way. This big sexy rumbustious girl-bonding film does complete justice to each character. I can just see how happy every actress must have been to own the roles offered to them.

Some of these actresses are relatively unknown to the screen and yet irreplaceably in character. Pavleen Gujral’s Pam is a suspiciously giggly and loud Delhi housewife, desperately unhappy underneath (akin to Nandita Das in Deepa Mehta’s Fire, but not gay). Her meltdown sequence with Anushka Manchanda (playing a singer with natural ease) is worthy of being flashed during awards nomination.

Sandhya Mridul furnishes her clichéd part of the workaholic mother with a kind of edgy passion. It’s the need of the hour. Angry Indian Goddesses is motivated by a surge of contagious energy that leaves the characters and the audience breathless with anxiety.

Rajshri Deshpande as the ebullient maid is a joy to behold specially when she does an item number with Jo, the Bollywood aspirant (played with tenderness and compassion by Amrit Maghera). But Rajshri is a tad too glamorous for the maid’s part. Or maybe I am stereotyping the woman in a film that does exactly the opposite?

Angry Indian Goddesses is a tale of female fraternizing done with a rush of humour, warmth and poignancy. There are two shockers in the plot, one at mid-point and the other towards the end. The climax seems somewhat manipulative and strained . It is lacking in the natural fluency that characterises the rest of the film.

However, this is a wonderful film with moments and performances that are cherishable forever. What stays long after the film is its admirable calmness in portraying gender equations. If men ogle at women as though by birthright, here women watch the shirtless boy nextdoor wash his car as though he were eye candy.

The film is shot (by cameraperson Swapnil Suhas Sonawane) in the falling but never bleak light of the evening, when people and landscapes look meditative and dreamy. It’s almost as if the God of all things cinematic had conspired to make Pan Nalin’s film an all-round triumph.

Take a bow, Mr Nalin. It’s a miracle that a male director understands women so deeply.

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