Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two movies.Two women...

I stayed up late at night watching the Golden Globe Awards - more relevant, powerful and glamourous than even the mighty Oscar's. Now... that's what we call Red Carpet dressing! I don't care what the fashion police say about Halle Berry's outfit looking like a modified negligee. She is a stunner all the way... and remains one even if she chooses sack cloth. Neither Portman's acceptance speech nor the out-of-place red rose on her yummy-mummy gown did it for me - and I adore Natalie . Jolie looked suitably sulky and sultry, but sorry, her green sheeted number did her no justice at all. Oh... am I glad that smug creepo Johnny Depp didn't get an award after two nominations in the Best Actor category???
In India, the film awards season has begun - no surprises here, whatsoever. Full 'setting' evident. All the Awards' ceremonies look the same, so do the awardees. As for the comical dress code for Red Carpet photo-ops, come on you Bollywood beauties - most of you are hotter and better looking than your Hollywood counterparts. Get it right!!!
This appeared today in Bombay Times...

Two movies. Two women.

Okay, this is going to sound insane : I watched two movies virtually back-to-back and came away thinking they weren’t all that different after all. The first was Ananth Mahadevan’s tour de force , ‘ Mee Sindhutai Sapkal’, and the other – don’t laugh – Alankrita Shrivastava’s ‘Turning 30’. It’s not just the fact that both films are strongly, unambiguously and powerfully woman-centric. It is what they are saying about their protagonists – one, a living legend who runs orphanages for abandoned children at Hadapsar, the other a fictional character named Naina, whose only ‘cause’ is herself! But the manner in which the respective film makers have portrayed their heroines, sans false sentimentality, speaks a lot about the directors and their choice of subjects. Sindhutai’s story is brutal, almost unbelievable, but like Mahadevan said during an interaction with viewers at the private screening, “ Her life is indeed like a film script – so exaggerated, it demanded to be made.” This remarkable lady’s survival itself is nothing short of a miracle.After being thrown out of her husband’s home ( various complicated reasons) with a newborn infant to look after, she managed to stay alive – just about – till one fine day she discovered the inner tigress in her, and took on a corrupt system which had cheated and oppressed the abjectly poor Adivasi (her tribe) wood cutters for years. After that turning point, there is no looking back for the ‘reborn’ Sindhutai ( she rechristens herself after the name of her favourite river). The first half of the film is relentlessly grim , particularly the scene in which Sindhutai gives birth to her baby girl in a cow shed. Her humiliation at the hands of everyone, including her own mother, as she struggles to vindicate herself, are so moving, one wonders at the steel within that kept her going, till she finally emerged as a larger than life personality who continues to protect unwanted kids and is adored and admired by thousands . Today Sindhutai is a hot ticket on the international speaker’s circuit ( she charges a fat fee and jokes she only gives ‘Bhashan for ration’), loved and lauded by people who have made her into a big enough folk hero for someone to alert Oprhah Winfrey about her.
Gul Panang’s Naina is a pretty wounded creature too… she is told by friends that the only way to get over a man is to find another one, cut her hair , wear a red dress and stilletoes. Easy! Nobody understands her emotional turmoil and sense of rejection, not even her mother. ‘Turning 30’ is a brave film that attempts to capture the anxiety of an entire generation of very insecure urban women whose sole objective in life is to bag a husband. Frightening but true. Their worst fears have to do with being left on the shelf as ‘rejects’ – in one really funny scene a knowing masseuse offers Naina a ‘pussy pamperer’. While Naina’s self- obsessive angst and those annoying rants against a steady boyfriend who abruptly dumps her on the eve of her 30th birthday cannot possibly be compared to Sindhutai’s torture at the hands of her nasty husband, the initial low self esteem issues are the same, as are the feelings of being unwanted. Both the women discover their own strengths through unfair and adverse circumstances and are seen as victors in the end. ‘Turning 30’ loses its way somewhere by bringing in unconnected tracks ( a lesbian love affair that sours), but boldly ventures into fresh terrain ( male strippers at a bridal shower, women ‘using’ men as sex toys, an obsession with risqué lingerie). The ladies smoke, drink, cuss and fornicate with delicious abandon – all of it guilt-free. And yes, Gul Panag is a great kisser.Now, if only the director had left out those gauche, painful monologues! A thumbs up to both films from me!
All I know about colonial furniture is thanks to the hours I used to spend with a kind and wonderful man called Mahendra Doshi , who passed away last year. But…. it was as if he was right there, supervising every tiny detail at the magnificently mounted ‘Tribute’ which is on display at the Museum. It was like walking into his tasteful living room and expecting to find Mahendrabhai on a stuffed sofa ,talking languorously about the champak blooming in the garden outside his Walkeshwar terrace. If you haven’t caught the exhibition so far… I urge you to do so. Lovingly restored and beautifully arranged, it is the best compliment to Mahendrabhai’s aesthetics and passion.


obssesor said...

Both the stories are so different yet similar!Great one.

चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

` Full 'setting' evident. ;
Be careful!!!!!!!! You may be sued :)

Madhu said...

This is the irony of life, most of us find our strength only when a great suffering falls on us. Its a rude awakening which we all need. Sometimes I wonder at what cost we find ourselves and in the end, is it all worth it. Perhaps it is, perhaps not.

As far as Naina is concerned, Gul Prang might be trying to say that we have a Naina in us...every single woman. And why not, we are women after all.

Shraddha Bhowad said...

Weird pair of movies to be watched back to back...really.
I loved 'review'ish narration of 'Turning 30'. I am not 30 yet but it's always best to be prepared. Do you think not being 30 or less than 30 will make me less-love the movie? Will 'I-don't-seem-to-relate-a-THING' impede? Dunno. But, still going to watch it for Gul.

It's somehow weird to read about' mee Sindhutai..' in english. I always thought of it(English) as a very humble language. One can make it more 'chat-pataa',desi and thus catchy like you do in your columns. But otherwise, very very polite. 'Thrown out' doesn't make the impact 'हाकलून देतो’ makes. Nor 'unwanted' for 'बेवारस’. So, (atleast) I felt that I read just one another 'informative' piece of writing about Sindhutai.Maybe, it's a mental thing. But still, Your Sindhutai didn't reach me as Naina did.
I was thinking of writing this comment in marathi. But then, my innerself who always plays on back-foot shoooed ,
"She (You) might not understand it."
"But she has 'seen' this marathi movie! Do you get that?"-That's actual 'Me'.
"What if it's with english subtitles?"- innerself on back-foot.
I surrendered.:))
One more-
<<most of you are hotter and better looking than your Hollywood counterparts
You were a diva once. You can help me find out who they are because I can't.

Ardhendu De said...

Alankrita Shrivastava’s ‘Turning 30’ I have watched late night. It sounds something less ambiguous than the "crisis of woman identity" that we often find in your writing.
None the less thanks for your choice of the films which prompts me to reread a few of your classics.


saurav said...

Thanx mam :)
It was a nice read..
I havent watched either of da movie til now.. But surely would luv to watch the "Mee Sindhutai" rather than turning 30 which i feel is without a proper subject !
Indeed "Mee Sindhutai" is more sensibly directed and has a story !

Unknown said...

Wow you don't understand hollywood much do you? 'Smug creepo'? Easily one of the best actors of his generation with the charm and mystique to match. Tourist was a disaster but it wouldn't tarnish his career. Golden Globes were same ol, funny you didnt mention Ricky Gervais the best part of the night. Wish someone would do that to bollywood without worrying about bruising gigantic egos. Inception was robbed, True Grit wasnt even nominated, two of the best films of the year. Glee won over Modern Family, so disappointing.
And I'd rather watch the reruns of Sex and the City (not the movies) than Turning 30. Male strippers at a bridal shower 'fresh terrain'?

Unknown said...

Dear Shobhaa Ji,

Kindly do the needful to arrange some financial help for ailing veteran actor A K Hangal.

MUMBAI: At 95, Sholay's Rahim Chacha has to depend on aid to fight illness. A K Hangal, who has worked in nearly 200 Hindi films, has been getting financial aid from people outside the film industry. His son Vijay, who worked as a cameraman and still photographer, lives a retired life but takes care of his father.

Ameya Khoppkar of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which handed over a cheque of Rs 50,000 to the veteran actor's son on Tuesday, said they would take care of all his medical needs.

The veteran actor said, ''The state should accept responsibility and see to the well-being of senior and ailing artistes like us. Not one person from the film industry has visited me. Whatever help I have got is from outside, and some members of the industry like Asha Parekh on a personal level.''

The actor said he had not received a single penny from the Cine and TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) in the last one year. But CINTAA general secretary Dharmesh Tiwari said, ''We have helped Hangal. A member has to make an application for help. We handed him a cheque of Rs 50,000 last year. There was a call from him last week. We will put forth his plea to the committee that clears payments to needy artistes very soon.''

Hangal, who started his film career at the age of 50, has to his credit over 200 films, including classics like Sholay, Shaukeen, Bawarchi, Guddi, Namak Haram and Lagaan. He has also been a freedom fighter, suffered three years in jail during the freedom movement. He added, ''The government should set up a permanent body to look into the issues of senior and ailing artistes. I have been ill for three months, but not one person from the film industry has turned up to see me. Nobody cares!'' The actor, plagued by asthma and kidney problems, foots a medical bill of Rs 15,000 every month.

Read more: Ailing Hangal looks to Bollywood for aid - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Ailing-Hangal-looks-to-Bollywood-for-aid/articleshow/7323317.cms#ixzz1BYC1QqeS

Rashmi Singh said...


Unknown said...

Happy New Year , Shobha !

We hope you and your readers are safe and well.

Now, to bring a message for one of our desis who does need our help to the entire Indian community. This is the bright and beautiful Sonia Rai:

Be Human, Be a Hero.

Sonia Rai is a wonderful person with a beautiful outlook inside-out. Raised in LA and working in Boston as a successful analyst, she cherishes both her Indian heritage and American world. Yet, at her prime-time, this holiday season 2010, she was diagnosed one with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), which is a cancer of the blood. She is in URGENT need of a bone marrow transplant. Sonia is only 24 years old, and receiving excellent care at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Her diagnosis caught the family by surprise. Sonia is currently undergoing intense chemotherapy but requires a bone marrow transplant quickly to survive beyond the next few months. Sonia’s tissue type is very unique, and so far, no one in her family or friends is a match. Her hope now is a match with a stranger, with odds more than 1/20,000. Could this stranger be you? … Increasing the number of South Asians registered as potential bone marrow donors will help Sonia find a match– and indeed will benefit others in need in the community, since there are currently not enough South Asians registered as donors. With medical advances today, donating is surprisingly easier (a simple swab test to match in a local drive or online-mail-in; if matched, 75% cases are only blood draws). Even if you are not a match for Sonia, you may be a match for someone else out there.

So, an appeal to you: Will you take a chance to save a life and be a hero?

Unknown said...

to understand more about women ( who drag 3 feet of evening gown on the dirty red carpet ) --

punch in VIVA LA DIFFERENCE VADAKAYIL in google search-


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sunil golcha said...

i'm so shocked to learn that the mumbai mafia did not spare even a powerful personality like you the builders lobby is so powerful they keep extracting concessions from the finmin by way of subsidised interest rates among other benefits

sunil golcha said...

i'm so shocked to learn that the mumbai mafia did not spare even a powerful personality like you the builders lobby is so powerful they keep extracting concessions from the finmin by way of subsidised interest rates among other benefits

Zanane Rajsingh said...

"setting" in indian film awards.. i wonder why sanjay leela bhansali's guzaarish team is not getting good nominations.. the indian audience need to build a taste of meaningful cinema.. and so the jury..

Yogesh Balaine said...

Ahh. For once you have spoken the complete truth. Reminds me of the greatest and most truthful actress of all times - Dolly Bindra.

Pesto Sauce said...

It would have taken an icon like Shobhaa De to draw a comparison here. Shobhaa De has been a symbol of liberated Indian feminism for long, right from her Stardust days. And yup she is damn right about the comparisons - even hip n chick approaching 30 females attending male strip parties in Bandra need a man and feel incomplete without them

mihir said...

APPEAL:: plzz never make fake accounts on Facebook/orkut caz ur fake hero can break someone real person's heart. if u dont believe me just read my story "I AM SORRY MA...M" and m sure u wll never think of fakism.if u really like my msg. please share my story link so that msg can spread to the mass and it may help in deleting fakism from social networking sites http://mihir.blogspot.com/2011/01/i-am-sorry-mam.html