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Neena Gupta has won Best Actress for her work in The Last Colour, at Indian International Film Festival of Boston. The Last Colour spotlights the plight of widows in Varanasi through the friendship between a young girl and an older woman.
It was in 2017 that veteran actor Neena Gupta championed herself and asked for work in a short but impactful post on Instagram. Post this, she returned triumphantly to the big screen, winning the Critics Choice Award for Best Actor (Female) for her role in Badhaai Ho at the Star Screen Awards and at the Filmfare Awards, something that as she rightly points out, doesn’t generally happen for women her age.
Adding to her list of accomplishments, she has now received Best Actor for her role as a widow in The Last Colour, a movie directed by Michelin star chef Vikas Khanna, and based on his book of the same name.
The movie, which has received much praise at film festivals, is set in the city of Varanasi, and deals with the friendship between a young girl, Choti, who is a tight-rope walker, and an older widow named Noor. Noor encourages Choti to get an education and stand up for herself, and Choti in turn promises Noor that they will play Holi together –something that tradition forbids a widow. However, when Choti becomes the only witness to the murder of her friend, Anarkali, she is imprisoned on the eve of Holi, jeopardizing everything.
Speaking about the movie, Vikas Khanna has said that he was inspired to make it having seen widowed women in Varanasi who were forced to live in total isolation. “The Last Color is the story of moving on, leaving traditions behind which have been followed for centuries. It’s very close to my heart,” he told PTI in April this year. Adding that he is very fortunate to have worked with Neena Gupta, he also said, “When women get empowered, they can make the shift not just in societies but in our lives.”
The pitiful life of widows in India is an open secret. Widowed women, regarded as inauspicious, or as a burden to their families are abandoned in temple towns and cities like Vrindavan and Varanasi. From destitution to being forced into prostitution, these women live in horrifying conditions, their plight propped up by misogynistic traditions and scriptures. Deepa Mehta’s 2005 film, Water, which also focused on the lives of widows in Varanasi, angered fanatics, precisely because, as my friend Rimli Bhattacharya points out, told the truth about these outdated and inhuman traditions.
The role of one such widow certainly seems to be an apt one for a talented actor like Neena Gupta, who recently said that, “I have always received roles of strong women from the beginning. The media had built my perception of being a strong woman because of my personal life. I wanted to play the damsel in distress, but I wasn’t given an opportunity to explore that kind of a character.”
She will soon be seen in the movie Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, with Badhaai Ho co-star Ayushmann Khurrana which seems to explore gay marriage; and in the upcoming Netflix original series Masaba Masaba, with her daughter Masaba, in which the mother-daughter duo play themselves. She is also looking at relaunching her much loved and award winning TV series, Saans.
Image source: YouTube
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Chetan Bhagat had no business slut shaming Uorfi Javed or any other woman. If he wants to 'guide' young men in the 'right direction' then he should take accountability for his words.
Chetan Bhagat, one of India’s bestselling authors, thought it was an ingenious idea to slut-shame Uorfi Javed, an Indian actress and influencer, at the Sahitya Aaj Tak literature festival.
“Phone has been a great distraction for the youth, especially the boys, spending hours just watching Instagram Reels. Everyone knows who Uorfi Javed is. What will you do with her photos? Is it coming in your exams or you will go for a job interview and tell the interviewer that you know all her outfits? On one side, there is a youth who is protecting our nation at Kargil and on another side, we have another youth who is seeing Uorfi Javed’s photos hiding in their blankets.”
Uorfi Javed responded with a video on her Instagram stories calling out Bhagat’s bluff. She shared the screenshots of his previous chat conversations with Ira Trivedi, author and yoga instructor, which came to light during the #MeToo movement.
While boys are taught to naturally own the space they enter, girls are taught to give up, to accommodate, to adjust since "it is their primary responsibility to keep families and relations together."
Yesterday, I was watching these 4 young girls around 16 – 17 years old play badminton. They were having fun, goofing around with all 4 of them equally involved in the game.
In some time two of their male friends joined them, and as part of round robin, the 2 boys replaced two of the girls. All good.
As the play continued, I started noticing a change in the way the game was being played. The shuttle was played most of the times between the two boys and there was a sense of competition and aggression brought in. The other 2 girls playing soon starting losing interest in the game as they hardly got any game time. Even if the shuttle came towards them, the boy in their team would move and play that shot. They soon moved to the sidelines as the boys continued to play.
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