I was lucky enough to meet with the cast and the esteemed director of ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’, a film that propagates the strength, beauty, poise and power of women. The film is a commentary on social inequality and taboos surrounding women, it depicts; and rather beautifully at that; the truth about relationships among women. I walked in an avid fan, and left with such an experience that I cherish because the entire team were so warm and wonderfully uplifting.
I spoke to Mr. Pan Nalin, Anushka Manchanda, Pavleen Gujral and Rajshri Deshpande. Thus went the conversation…
(To Pan Nalin, the esteemed director) How would you respond to people who would call you a ‘Feminazi’?
Pan Sir: (laughs) I love it! Because now women love me, and that is absolutely amazing.
The film depicts such real experiences and exchanges about women, how would you respond to a critique that the film propagates a feminist rhetoric?
Pan Sir: When you make a movie about six-seven women, it is impossible to escape feminism. When they get together, they reminisce and at first talk about college memories and other superficial details. But, as they get deeper into the conversation, the real stuff comes out, that is if you stick to a real treatment of story telling.
When I made this film, it wasn’t about labels, calling it feminist or fascist. It was a great story with complex characters and I wanted to make something good. Nobody comments when they make films with male protagonists like Dil Chahta hai, or Pyaar ka Punchnama, but a film about women coming together? Oh it must be a feminist-male-bashing one, which is simply not true!
Pavleen: It is unfair that there is discrepancy, to quote Sandhya Mridulji, she always says this, “If standing up for ourselves makes us feminist, then yes! We’re all feminists!”
What’s it like to get so much love from people all around the country?
Pan Sir: When we shot this, we were really not expecting this grand reaction! There have been so many blogs and posts and wonderful messages from around the country, even men responding so well to the film! Suddenly we filled this void of this particular hunger for a good, honest film, and it has just been magnanimous ever since.
What was the objective going in, when you decided to make this film?
Pan Sir: Whenever I make any film or start a project it’s always with the objective of telling a good, even great story. Nobody likes getting lectured, or given a preaching session when they watch a film. But if you can make something that encourages dialogue among the viewers, you know you’ve done your part.
“It’s disappointing that the industry pits women against each other and they’re competing for the same jobs.”
The issues discussed in this film have come up before, they have been for years now; the issues of rape and sexual dominance. But those films show the victims avenging their rape by killing the perpetrator. You watch this over-the-top reaction and it’s not believable. So in making this we tried to keep it authentic, and most importantly relatable and believable.
(Turning to the goddesses) How was this for you? Making this film together, being with one another, and shooting this passion project?
Anushka: So when we say that we’ve put our hearts and souls into this, that our blood, sweat and tears have gone into this, we absolutely mean it! It’s a 100% percent true, that’s why we’re so emotionally attached to this film. We underwent two weeks of workshops before we started shooting, with yoga and trust excercises, the full works! We did everything together. Because, here we were, seven very individualistic, opinionated women about to embark upon this film and there was never that negativity on set, we all came together and we connected. We support each other and love each other and you can see it!
Rajshree: Yes! From Day One, we were in the same house together, we worked together, chilled together and we all really became friends. We’d heard of each other, but had never met or worked together and this was quite the experience.
Anushka: So much so, that we were at a party and we met this actress who was talking to us about the project and when she found out that it was seven of us on this set, she was quite surprised and said, ’Oh I wouldn’t want to be on that set’. It’s disappointing that the industry pits women against each other and they’re competing for the same jobs.
Pavleen: But this is where our casting was so perfect! They chose women who would be okay with working with that positive energy, who would be a part of this whilst perfectly being individualistic.
Anushka: I find myself saying lines of the film, because that’s how real women react! It was wonderful to bring this authenticity to the project because we all could finally depict true and honest friendships between women.
I hung around for quite some time after this, where they talked about their individual careers and discussed future plans. They’re set to go around the world this whole year, as the film will release in over 60 countries. This was promptly followed by my incessant fangirling over Anushka, but she was an absolute delight! They all stayed for pictures and even made vines with me.
It was an evening well spent, all there is left for me to say is if you haven’t seen it already, WATCH ‘ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES’!