Most Indian films, dealing with issues pertaining to women or which stars a female actor as the central protagonist, have a serious tone to them. The audience often wonders as to why we cannot have a film in which women are shown to have fun and letting their hair loose? Last year’s ‘Queen’, featuring Kangana Ranaut in the lead, addressed a few issues while maintaining the frothiness of the narrative. Director Pan Nalin’s ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ has been promoted as a fun and frothy film on female bonding.
The film starts off with a glimpse of the lives of each of its female protagonists. Freida (Sarah Jane-Dias), a fashion photographer, quits halfway through an assignment owing to creative differences with her team. Her cousin Joanna (Amrit Maghera) is an NRI who aspired to act in Hindi films but is unhappy with the treatment meted out to female actors in the film industry. Suranjana (Sandhya Mridul) works in the higher hierarchy of a large corporate firm and her work keeps her on her toes. Madhurima is a musician/singer whose career has hit a low. Pammi (Parveen Gujral), a gold medallist in college, is now a housewife and lives a life dictated by her husband and in-laws. Lakshmi (Rajshri Deshpande) is Freida’s firebrand maid who is battling her own issues in life. Freida invites her gang to come down to Goa to be a part of her wedding. Nargis Nasreen (Tannishta Chatterji), a social activist, too joins the girls after a while.
Films that make rounds of film festivals are expected to have an ‘arty’ feel to them. Make no mistake here, ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ is not the kind of film that one can associate with arthouse cinema. The film is fast paced and highly entertaining. It is not difficult to guess the kind of issues a film of this nature would be dealing with. These issues have been addresses earlier in a few films but the authenticity and personal touch that Pan Nalin lends to this film is something very few films have managed to achieve. The first half of the film digs into the problems that women in the country deal with but does not really get overly serious. There are some dramatic moments that come out very well.
The film acquires a dark tone towards the middle of the second half with an untowardly incident happening to one of the protagonists. While the incident (and what follows later) leaves you with a lump in your throat, one does feel that it happens all of a sudden and a bit of a build-up would have been nice. The film addresses many issues and one must give credit to the writer and the director for doing justice to each of the characters and their track, the film seems jam-packed with the multiple scenes at times.
The film is embellished with some fine performances led by Sandhya Mridul, who plays the corporate honcho struggling to strike a balance between work and family. Sarah Jane-Dias, last seen in a forgettable cameo in ‘Happy New Year’, is a revelation. She looks pretty and plays her part very well. Singer Anushka Manchanda is completely natural as Madhurima/Mad. Parveen Gujral brings some laughs with her mildly caricaturish character and also makes you empathize with her plight as she breaks down into tears. Amrit Maghera has a good screen presence and acts well. Rajshri Deshpande is terrific as Lakshmi. Adil Hussain leaves a mark in a small role. Arjun Mathur is good in a cameo.
‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ is, perhaps, Pan Nalin’s most commercial till date. The director has made a thoroughly engaging film without compromising on any aspect of storytelling. The screenplay and dialogues (Pan Nalin, Dilip Shankar and Arsala Qureshi) are very well written. There are some original and some sourced out tracks (Ram Sampath, Ashish Prabhu, Kary Prabhu, Anushka Manchanda, M. Boyer, Paul J and The Local Train) which gel beautifully with the film. The background score (Cyril Morin) is good. Swapnil S. Sonawane’s camerawork is very organic and lends a sense of realism to the film. The editing (Shreyas Beltangdy) cuts across different episodes beautifully.
‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ is a film made in a nation in which women face several kinds of prejudices on a daily basis. The film talks about several issues without employing any superficial methods and showing things the way they are. It is a film which raises several questions and implores you to think about several issues without getting preachy.