This appeared in The week. Please treat it as the promised review. Slightly late... but what the hell!
Agreed, SATC-2 shot in Abu Dhabi was a bit of a turkey, and even the super stylish gal pals clad in designer harem pants, floaty caftans and ridiculous head gear, couldn’t salvage the move from box office disaster. But I have to confess I enjoyed it, much to my daughters’ collective amazement (the girls found it seriously dumb). ‘What is there to like?” they asked. “A lot!” I answered, a trifle defensively. And I heard a man groan, “ Dude… do I really want to know about a woman’s hot flashes or listen to her menopausal rantings?” Well, why not? SATC has always gone into uncharted territory, be it a woman’s confusion about her sexual urges, her mixed feelings about having kids, her dryness ‘down there’, her fears of rejection on account of her small breasts, her reluctance to get into a committed relationship … even her odd PMS conduct. It was always out there in the popular television series, and later in the movies that followed the rather complex love\sex\ professional lives of four feisty females in New York. Just the fact that these couture-clad Manhattan chicks with all their combined neuroses managed to connect with regular women across the world, was a big enough signal heralding major change.
This is not as superficial as it sounds. While watching the latest SATC at my favourite multiplex, I was busy scanning the packed auditorium to see who was laughing and at which jokes. Interestingly, the film opens with an elaborate gay wedding sequence with Carrie playing the best man. Her husband (Mr. Big, if you please!), cracks several politically incorrect jokes about gays, and it’s okay to do it – yes – just as movies crack jokes about other minorities. Nobody is spared these days – Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians. So why treat gays with kid gloves? This openness is entirely welcome and it was good to see so many gays in the audience laughing with everybody else. That’s confidence.
Two weeks later, I was at a lunch with a mixed group of professionals who happened to be discussing SATC avidly. One of the men said he had learned so much about women from SATC – their really, really personal secrets and sexual foibles that men rarely get a chance to figure out on their own. He claimed that as a student in America during the heyday of the tv series, he would watch Carrie and her friends closely to pick up a few cues about dating on campus. Later in life, when he decided to get married, and the SATC ladies had also moved on to dealing with domesticity, he was glued once again to their new selves as they negotiated various marital hurdles. He gave the example of Carrie’s failed wedding the first time round, when the wedding preparations turned into a public circus and became much bigger than the ceremony itself. It reminded him of his own despair as he watched his bride-to-be getting caught in the familiar trap of staging a full on ‘designer wedding’ at which the two of them would be reduced to playing puppets in ridiculously extravagant couture.
Similarly, I exchanged notes with a few post-menopausal friends who had chortled and choked through the accurately hilarious scenes featuring the 50-plus sexual predator Samantha popping a cocktail of multi coloured pills to balance her yo yo-ing hormones. There was another telling scene which showed Samantha hastily applying a lubricating cream to her private parts before setting out on a date. Too personal? Too gross?? Of course! But… hey …. too true, too!
Would a desi SATC work in India? Nope. I remember being asked to write a pilot for a major channel a few years ago. I did take a crack at it – but the female boss baulked at what I thought was a pretty tame version of the original. She was right. It would never have worked. We want our own lives to be presented in a sanitized, air brushed way – like none of this ever happens to us. We don’t want to acknowledge that our urban selves are not all that different from Carrie or Samantha or Charlotte or Miranda. Well, let me tell you we have them all in our vibrant society. Only, we want to pretend they don’t exist. Which is also why our top rated soaps today celebrate rural ‘values’ and applaud child marriage along with other ‘traditional’ virtues. India is way too hypocritical to own up to its own Carrie Bradshaws. But show me one local fashionista who wouldn’t want to be in her Louboutins!