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Just when you think Indian cinema is getting more woke, along comes a movie like Manmadhudu #2 that treats women as entertainment accessories.
It was Amma’s birthday and I decided to fly down to surprise her. Yup, she was shocked alright. To spend the day fruitfully, we decided upon a gabfest, a workable lunch, a movie, and a lavish dinner.
Sounds like a plan on paper right? Woefully wrong!
Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something terrible that I seem to be the chosen one for the powers above, to punish and make merry at my expense.
We chose the latest release, Manmadhudu #2, a Telugu movie starring Nagarjuna (without reading any reviews).
In hindsight what a Himalayan blunder that turned out to be.
To bring readers to speed, Manmadhudu #2 is the story of a big joint family monitored by the half somnambulant Lakshmi, (who is merely six years older than Nagarjuna), set in Portugal. Nagarjuna is her middle-aged son who plays the field, not wanting to settle down as he was heart-broken once.
And pray why did the woman then walk out? The woman who was majoring in medicine, (played by Keerthy Suresh, who received the National award for best actress for her portrayal of the legendary Savitri in Mahanati) gets interviewed, more like bamboozled by the three sisters and their mother on her housekeeping skills. Can she cook, wash (utensils, clothes, etc ) and look after their baby brother? Baby brother being the kindly uncle, Nagarjuna! They are appalled that she cannot while they smile indulgently at their woefully ill-equipped to handle life kiddo!
Obviously, the girl walks out on the family fuming.
Heartbroken kiddo (really!) then takes to bedding the Portuguese beauties with a vengeance. Literally, because the roof shakes and bed’s headboard bangs the wall waking up the man Friday sleeping on the ground floor who gamely goes condom hunting for his boss, during mid-act.
Nope, I’m not done yet. Women are mere entertainment accessories to be discarded after pleasuring the boy. When the mother finally threatens to die, Nagarjuna gets Rakul Preet to play his wife for a fee. You know how that will end, don’t you? Why will Rakul, who is young enough to be his daughter, agree? Obviously, she has her own baggage to deal with.
To see such a film in 2019 from a mainstream superhero, when we women are beginning to feel that we are finally getting there, is extremely disconcerting. We are raising our sons right and daughters ready to fight, aren’t we?
And to think the movie is directed by Rahul Ravindran, who won the National award, Best Original Screenplay, for Chi La Sow. Chinmayi Sripada, who grabbed the headlines during the #MeToo movement, had dubbed for Rakul. Samantha, Nagarjuna’s daughter-in-law has a cameo in this movie.
All three had spoken vociferously against the content of Kabir Singh content and its director.
But when it comes to one’s own ventures, it must be difficult to walk the talk or stay woke.
Is woke rhetorics just lip-service? It’s easier to point fingers at others and sport a halo rather than stay true, right? Therein lies the absolute irony.
But on a lighter note, after a while, I caught Mommie seriously sleeping.
Mommie got up after a while and asked my daddy, “Kya hui? What did I miss?” Daddy replied, “How do I know? I was sleeping too!”
So the new release turned out to be a sure shot cure for insomnia.
Don’t believe me? I’ve got digital proof!
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Anupama Jain is the author of 'When Padma Bani Paula', a breezy novel about second
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