Having lived in Goa for about two years, as a single woman in Goa the trailer of ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ intrigued me. Although I had read mixed reviews, I knew it was a film I needed to watch for myself so here I was watching ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ and yes it was hugely problematic for me.
I do acknowledge and appreciate the diversity of emotion and expression as well as the representation of sisterhood throughout the film. Also, the film has been beautifully shot and creates an almost ethereal image of Goa for the audience.
Now with the problem.
In many parts.
Let me start with the name of the film. Why are the women represented as ‘goddesses’? Is that because gods and goddesses are supreme and invincible? Or is it because Kali is an acceptable and ‘feminist’ representation of violence and gore? I am not quite sure I got that connection.
Like all the women in the film experienced, each day is full of surprises and often unpleasant ones but there are things that really left me bothered as I walked out. If I end up becoming a reflection of the very people I hated then how am I different from them and how have I been able to stand by my beliefs?
Why were all the women’s bodies like those of ramp models today? None of the actresses had a real woman’s body. They all had nice long, flowing hair with perfect clothes and makeup. Even when a character was supposed to be distraught, they looked done up. Not just that, at times they even looked like clones of each other. While the photographer mocks the Indian obsession with the white skin, the film promotes the same.
That was one part of the problem.
Why the need to only concentrate on the negatives? Why not have tackled unpleasantness and sexism differently? Is stripping to a two-piece a sign of liberation? Is eve-teasing men and getting even a sign of equality? The instances wherein women resorted to violence do show an unrealistic image. As much as the film is aimed at entertainment, it deals with real experiences, which is why a little more informed expression may have been appreciated. At the same time, physical violence or revenge is not a sign of gender equality but of often acceptable expressions of manhood in a patriarchal society like ours.
Yes, each day can be difficult and yes it makes us both aggressive and defensive but then again, it does not imply that we are like that, consistently and constantly. That to me was a huge misrepresentation. Why was Su shown as an inconsiderate, workaholic mother? Why couldn’t she have been in a happy relationship with her daughter? Why did someone need to point that out to her?
Then we have the depiction of Goa which of course is only full of beautiful beaches and so much greenery. There is nothing else to Goa. Goa continues to exist as the New Year Party destination for all Indians and yes we are so-so obsessed with the white woman. We have sexualized her body to death and by allowing for characters like that of Jo to exist on screen we are only further objectifying and strengthening the same view.
I don’t know what will change the way we view women and women’s lives but I can assure you this is not the portrayal of single women in Goa so I wonder whose lives are we then imagining and portraying!
Article by Barkha Sharda, Guest Writer.