Written by Manisha Lakhe
Is This The Beginning Of A Revolution?
The lives of four women who live in a dilapidated old Haveli in a small town are brilliantly portrayed in this film which breaks many taboos. These women struggle to get out of the designated roles assigned them by society and we see delightful hidden personalities. In a patriarchal society these secretly rebellious women find slices of happiness even though their rights are trampled casually. The film serves reality with humor and brilliantly.
Small towns are congested, their airless houses filled with thoughtless people and crammed with things. In one such dilapidated haveli of a small town four women dare to dream. And director Alankrita Shrivastava shows us how their dreams can be trampled by casual patriarchy.
Rehana is allowed to go to college because her father is generous. When she comes back she stitches burkhas at her dad’s tailoring shop late into the night.
Leela’s mother has made so many sacrifices, she has to prove she is a good daughter by getting hitched to a rich guy who belongs to a large joint family and wants to wait for ‘suhaag raat’…
Shireen is a brilliant saleswoman, but has to endure a Saudi returned husband who merely uses her as a sex object
Buaji is to be just that. A matriarch to the whole haveli. But this fifty-something spinster is fed up of Satsangs. She’d rather read Bills & Moon romances that can steam up her evenings and days and afternoons and nights…
Only the audience knows their secret. And even though you know at the back of your head, their realities are going to bring their dreams crashing on the haveli floor, you hope against hope that they manage to begin a revolution. The film was stopped at every step by the Indian Censors, attempting to ban the film. How can you allow women to dream? To be sexual creatures? To be more successful than their husbands? Should they even breathe?
Indian patriarchy has long blamed western attire, make-up, and education of girls. This movie cocks a snook at traditions and expectations, showing us what women want, what women really hanker for, how empathy can bring them together, how they understand each other’s needs by just a look, a gesture.
You’ll love Ratna Pathak Shah as Buaji and Konkona Sen Sharma as Shireen. But it’s the two younger girls Plabita Borthakur as Rehana and Aahana Kumra as Leela who hold their own. Watch it and renew your lipstick if you are a girl, and buy your girl one, if you are a lad. But don’t miss this film. It’s reality served with dollops of humor.
P.S. Some might say that the male characters are uni dimensional. But then this film makes up for all the damsel in distress and arm candy roles women are subjected to endure in most Bollywood films
(this review minus the post script appears on nowrunning dot com)