Not just Angry Indian Goddesses: Here are a list of films that also explored female bonding
Pan Nalin’s 'Angry Indian Goddesses' is not the first Indian film about female bonding. Here’s listing the 10 that tried it before.
In the West, female Bonding has been a big issue ever since Thelma & Louise, played by Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, left their respective male others and took off in Ridley Scott's film. In India, movies about female bonding are less popular. In Ritesh Batra's The Lunchbox, Nimrat Kaur was shown forming a link with her neighbour whose voice was all we 'saw' on screen. It's typical since female bonding in Hindi cinema remains largely sketchy, ambivalent and undeveloped.
Recently, however, Pan Nalin's Angry Indian Goddesses got touted as first 'female-buddy' film of India. But before we deduce this has a freshly coined genre, Bollywood has made films on 'female bonding' over the decades. Here are a few examples
When the redoubtable Shyam Benegal brings together a gallery of gorgeous women to play happy prostitutes, it’s time to rejoice. Mandi is one of Indian cinema’s most accomplished films about female bonding with Shabana Azmi, fat and flamboyant as the Madame, and Smita Patil, Neena Gupta, Aneeta Kanwar and Sreela Mazumdar excelling as the happy whores. Interestingly for a film about female heroes the male characters were well fleshed-out too.
Jagmohan Mundhra’s dark and desperate film about the relationship between a woman who is ‘sold’ to a journalist and the journalist’s wife. Memorable mainly for the bonding between Deepti Naval and Shabana Azmi who played the two powerful women in the film.
Deepa Mehta’s film showed the two lonely daughters-in-law of a small time business family turning to lesbians. A bit of a stretch, really. Sexual orientation is not dictated by social-cultural circumstances. But Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das were brilliant together.
Shabana Azmi and Madhuri Dixit playing the daughters-in-law of a feudal family who finally revolt against the patriarchal code. Shilpa Sirodkar and Abha Dhulia joined the gang. This is Prakash Jha’s best work by far.
Paisa Vasool (2004):
Directed by Shrinivas Bhashyam, this is a little-seen film about a struggling actress and a divorce. Sushmita Sen and Manisha Koirala shared a crackling chemistry.
Blatantly lifted from Parvathi Balagopalan’s little-known film Phir Zindagi, about a girl who takes off on a solo honeymoon when ditched by her husband-to-be, Queen worked mainly for the terrific chemistry between Kangna Ranaut and Lisa Hayden. Hungama ho gaya!
This film was not really about Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone but about Deepika and Diana Penty: one sassy, urbane girl and the other a conservative and repressed one. Director Homi Adjania should’ve just kept Saif out of the picture. But oops, Saif was the producer.
Gulab Gang (2014):
Madhuri Dixit, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Priyanka Bose and Divya Jagdale played members of the Gulab Gang, loosely inspired by Sampat Pal’s pink-saree gang. Soumik Sen’s direction made this film a hodgepodge of feminism rant and filmy melodrama. Very disappointing.
This is director Srijit Mukherjee’s melodramatic and morbid take on Shyam Benegal’s Mandi, with Rituparna Sengupta playing the madame of a brothel. The terrific ensemble cast of female actors is the saving grace.
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