Ladies' Special not so special.
To begin with, (for the sake of background) I come from a Muslim family. We have distant relatives from ancestral homes who still live in the dark ages. Their weddings come with the absurd tradition of having separate enclaves for men and women. Honest to God, the idea of a show where no men were going to be allowed took me back to the horrid memories of those gender-demarcated weddings where I literally, like never before, yearned for my brothers’ company!
You're probably wondering what I'm on about. Let me fill you in. The Dangal Marketing team had come up with this ingenious (or not) idea of dedicating one show every day to women. Meaning, for that show the movie was going to be screened exclusively for women. No men allowed. I just had to watch this movie. For
science 101 India work!
I wanted to watch Dangal anyway, but now with the prospect of an all-women's show, I wanted to even more so. Besides, what if the reviews were just completely misleading? Was there going to be nothing good to look at? Why why why would they strip me off the basic happiness of expecting to get seated next to a butterscotch-eyed stud?!?
Was this feminism of some sort? If that were the case, then why the hell are there only all-women’s shows and no all-men’s show? (Bhai's movies don't count) Why can’t people take back feminist messages even if they are watching the film with a guy?
My ticket to a strange theatre
The point was completely lost to me for two very specific reasons. One, the show was in the afternoon. Two, THE SHOW WAS IN THE AFTERNOON. Now like I said, this was part of my work and therefore I could make it for that particular show. Does anyone smell the gross assumption yet? Does Team Dangal think women do not have anything to do in the afternoon? A tiny message to them - we go to work, we have bosses breathing down our necks (loudly) to meet deadlines and we have monthly salaries that we somehow make do with.
Now before someone pounces at me - let me make it amply clear that I am not one of ‘those’ who thinks that empowered women are only the ones who go to work. I truly, earnestly and very violently campaign for housewives as necessary and important components of the feminist movement. Taking them into consideration, why all-women’s show in the afternoon sir jee? A show for housewives exactly at the time they have to pick their sons and daughters up from school and/or feed them lunch? The other TG they might have completely not taken into consideration - school and college going girls. Are they expected to skip their lectures on ‘feminist discourses in India’ to watch Dangal? And for those who are going to say “hello! What about suburban and sub-altern women and women hailing from the lower strata of society?” Did anyone really think they are going to be able to afford a show at PVR Andheri or Juhu to watch Dangal!?!??!?
Wtf-ing at what I had gotten myself into
Such were the confusing and enraging thoughts going through my head before I left for the movie. At exactly 3, I reached the theatre. Guess it’s safe to say the environment felt as deserted as a voluntary blood donation camp in college but, I was keen to see how this played out, to see what kind of women turned out, to see what the movie was about and to basically just find out if this otherwise lame AF marketing gimmick was going to work.
I went into the movie complex, let the woman security guard check my bag (and they never EVER seem to find my cleverly hidden cigarettes, muhahaha) and then feel me up. I decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator because I truly could afford to skip Vicco turmeric ads and ‘forced down my throat nationalism’. In my head, the tension had built up to an insurmountable amount. I walked into the theatre andddddd…..
HURRAH! EMPTY HALL!
On my way to the theatre
I wish someone would have taken a picture of the satisfaction on my face when I saw that! Dangal Marketing Team:0 : : Feminism: 1
3 hours later when the movie ended, was I satisfied? With the movie, yes! It’s a GREAT film. It is a well shot, well directed, and the story is really aesthetically and intelligently executed. Is it a feminist film though? No. But does it come with a feminist message? Yes, very much so. There seems to be this opinion afloat on social media - “How is Dangal talking about anything feministic if they are being coached by a patriarchal father”. These guys seem to have the concept of both feminism and patriarchy wrong. They have also seemed to confuse the father for only a father. He was also their coach; as such he had to be harsh in order to discipline them. He was not training them to play ludo. Wrestling is serious business and I would request these pseudo-intellectual Facebook feminists to please calm the hell down. Also, for all your academic expertise, do you forget that Aamir’s character is set in a remote village in Haryana? Keeping that environment in mind, what he did was way more encouraging towards the cause of women than Honey Singh’s latest hit.
An only women screening of “Dangal” to promote women empowerment? We think not.
Going back to the whole “all-women’s show” sham. Even after the film, I stuck to my initial opinion. It was lame.
But I did enjoy the show and the fact that it was exclusively for women, albeit for completely different reason. Like, the free cookie and coffee we got (Yup. Not kidding), the fact that the theatre was SO empty I could self-upgrade myself to the gold class and took another plush fancily upholstered seat for my bag and my jacket. Not to mention the rarely found occasion of pin drop silence that pervaded the hall.
All in all, Dangal was fun and if you’re looking to have yourself a nice quiet little afternoon by yourself and you’re unemployed or write movie reviews for a living, book the exclusive women’s show by all means.
The tickets are cheaper too. Probably because we're women and our husbands don't give us enough pocket money... or because it's an afternoon show.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Suman Quazi
Photographs by Maaz Kazmi and Suman Quazi