Movie Review: Angry Indian Goddesses (2015)

Cast: Sandhya Mridul, Sarah Jane Dias, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Anushka Manchanda, Pavleen Gujral, Amrit Maghera, Rajshri Deshpande
Director: Pan Nalin
Music: Ram Sampath, Anushka Manchanda, The Local Train, Ashish Prabhu Ajgaonkar
What can we expect when seven women gather under a roof in Goa to celebrate a wedding in the offing? Fun, alright but there’s more to offer here. The film in the first few minutes manages to show us how all of these women are experiencing some or the other kind of battles which may somewhat relate to gender biases. These women gathern not just to celebrate together but also revel in nostalgia, clamour, hopes and laughter. They are the women of today in flesh and blood- women we can relate to at some level. Women who are as happy as they sound on the outside and as hollow otherwise.
AIG2So when Frieda (Sarah Jane Dias), a fashion photographer, invites her friends over to celebrate her wedding with her- because it has to be a very hushed up affair, and only her six friends are going to be a part of it- little does she realise that it’s going to get bigger than her own struggle with the world. Suranjana (Sandhya Mridul) learns that in a bid to prove to the world that she is no less than any man, and fit enough to lead a company as its CEO, she has lost all touch with her six-year old little daughter, who finds herself lost and lonely without the love of her parents. Madhurita (Anushka Manchanda) who is a pop singer going through a terrible dry spell, has no idea that her attempts to kill herself are merely a cry for help and not a brave display of her fight against prejudice. Pammi (Pavleen Gujral) is a housewife who finds herself away from her domestic battles and enjoys the freedom that comes with being in her comfort zone, that is with her friends.
AIG3Activist Nargis (Tannishtha Chatterjee) later on in the movie realises that being angry about issues does not stop them from happening- sad, that she submits though. I’d still have to collect the whole of her character, now that we know her portions were cut by the censorship. Laxmi (Rajshri Deshpande), the house-help is reminded that she is trapped in her revenge, while putting her life on hold. It is Joanna (Amrit Maghera), the wannabe actress, who makes her realise that. Well, she is the spark in this movie. She brings a certain magic not just to her character but also certain elaborate frames. Her conversation, out in the open, with Laxmi is deep and thought-provoking.
Even when you are enjoying the free-spirited Goan air and its narrow alleys along with the characters, you are pretty aware that it is not just the story of some girls who have got together to have some mindless fun, without being judged. You know that there is danger lurking at some corner and before you know it, it hits you! A rape and murder brings them together too. The individual battles that they have been fighting themselves in solitude become a combined aggression. The movie ends on a note where we all hope that it turns true. Though it still seems so far-fetched.
Even though the movie tries to impress upon feminism as its main agenda, along the way it fails to really go that far. Surprisingly, the issues that keep propping up in the first half did not quite take shape in the second half and got diluted sometime when the accident happens. The intent seemed like it was supposed to create a statement there but it fails to impress. The highlight at that time, though, is the way the characters act. They are beautiful in every way. All of the main ladies manage to create their own space and do full justice to the piece written for them. Whatever their agendas are- revenge, rape, homosexuality, suicide, divorce, childlessness, legal battle- they manage to hold it to their own and treat it well. Must watch if you have the appetite for niche cinema, else just don’t watch it simply to judge it. It’s not meant to be that way.
Appreciate the guts of the director, Nalin, to gather all these vivacious women together and build their lives for two hours, but more than that, a huge applause for the camera work by Swapnil S. Sonawane. The close ups, especially of Amrit and Anuj are superbly shot. Would love to see more of his work, now.
Here is a snippet of what to expect, in case you have not watched the movie yet:


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