Angry Indian Goddesses
A group of college friends. A wedding. Countless secrets. Billed as "India's first female buddy comedy," Angry Indian Goddesses seems at first like the South Asian spin on Bridesmaids. But in the hands of award-winning filmmaker Pan Nalin (Samsara), the story takes surprising turns that upend genre expectations and explore the pressing issues of gender and sexism in contemporary Indian society.
In the scenic beachside state of Goa, Frieda (Sarah Jane Dias), a strong-willed and celebrated photographer, gathers her closest friends on the eve of her nuptials. The diverse (and often hilarious) group is a snapshot of modern Indian society: Su (Sandhya Mridul), a businesswoman and mother; the engaging Nargis (Tannishtha Chatterjee, who also appears at this year's Festival in Parched); Jo (Amrit Maghera), an aspiring Bollywood actress; Pammy (Pavleen Gujral), a housewife; Mad (Anushka Manchanda), a singer-songwriter; and the house servant, Lakshmi (Rajshri Deshpande). Everything's set for a night of celebration. There's only one issue: Frieda won't say who her betrothed is.
As they banter their way through a tonally varied series of scenes — some of them jubilantly comic, others loaded with pathos — the characters in Angry Indian Goddesses evolve far beyond mere tropes. Their conversation, derived entirely from improvisations among the actors, covers everything from sex to street harassment to the buff (and often shirtless) next-door neighbour. As the night goes on, we become acquainted with the women's dreams, desires, fears, and above all, their unwavering bond with one another — a bond that eventually takes them to extreme lengths.
The 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder sparked discussions about women's rights in India that are still ongoing. An important new cinematic entry in the conversation, Angry Indian Goddesses is a refreshing and frank depiction of female empowerment from a key figure in independent South Asian cinema.