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A refreshing take on a woman’s quest for self-mastery infused with generous doses of humour, Panga is a must watch!
My weekend ritual typically involves waking up late, having a late breakfast and an even later lunch, and then idly passing my time either binge-watching movies or series.
Today was no different. After my lunch, I lazily sifted through Netflix, Hotstar, and Prime hoping to find something worthwhile to watch. Not finding anything interesting, my search became more frantic, more urgent. After all, spending an entire weekend without good content to feast on is tantamount to misusing time. More so, when you are quarantining.
Anyway, with the intensity of my search heightening, I finally chanced upon a movie that caught my attention – Panga. Panga, helmed by Ashwini Iyer, is available for streaming in Disney+Hotstar. It is a simple story about an erstwhile International Kabaddi player, Jaya (Kangana Ranaut), who is often caught wistfully reminiscing about her days of yore when Kabaddi was her only religion and her only source of joy.
Fast forward to the present and she is a wife and a mother to a 7 year old son, restricted to a life of domesticity; a life that was not imposed upon her but one she had gladly chosen.
Nearly 10 years after leaving the international arena, Jaya is challenged by her family to make a comeback to sports. Her journey begins as a ploy to thwart her son’s (Yagya Bhasin) attempts at getting her to make a comeback. But, unbeknownst to her, it soon turns into an earnest quest for her own self, lost in the years between being a wife and mother.
Panga is a quiet revolution. It does not roar, but silently raises its voice against multiple issues that plague our society. It does not deal with gender inequality as an independent subject, but as one wrapped in shades of ageism.
For instance, in one particular scene, when Jaya announces her decision to return to international sports, her own mother (Neena Gupta) could be heard grumbling about how at an age when she should be holding the fort at home, she is instead considering a re-entry. This scene holds more significance because when a younger Jaya had introduced Prashant (Jassie Gill) to her mother as a prospective groom, the only parameter on which he was deemed fit was his willingness to let her play after marriage.
Thereby, it highlights a stark contrast in the attitude of her own mother, and brings to the fore an uncomfortable and a largely unacknowledged truth – with age things change, especially for women. These changes are not just limited to their bodies but also extend to the way society, and sometimes their own family, perceives them and their abilities.
Panga is also about contesting to be your best selves, sometimes even at the cost of risking the stability of your home life. There are several moments in the movie which set the screen afire. But, one particular scene, between Jaya and Prashant, explains the essence of the movie with one stroke.
Jaya confesses how she derives immense joy when she looks at Prashant and their son, but not so much when she looks at herself in the mirror. That moment is so richly poignant and evokes such deep emotions that you cannot help but root for her success, for her to achieve even the most impossible dreams.
If you want Bollywood masala with song and dance sequences, then this movie is not for you. Panga is not a movie painted in loud hues of romantic love, but in subtle undertones of it. You will not see Jaya and Prashant scream about their undying love for each other from the rooftops. But, you will see Prashant rejoice louder for Jaya’s accomplishments than Jaya herself. You will see him support her even in the face of her mother’s disapproval. And you will see him struggle to manage the household when she embarks on a journey to pursue her dreams, and never once complain about it. That is the kind of love depicted in Panga, silent but strong at its core.
All the actors, including the supporting cast, have done a fantastic job and are very convincing in their roles.
Panga is not your everyday Bollywood nonsense. It is a tale about pushing yourself beyond your limits, even when you feel you cannot go any further, especially then. A refreshing take on self mastery infused with generous doses of humour, Panga is a must watch!
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HR by profession, but a writer by choice, I find creative respite through writing.
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