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Rinku Sooryavanshi in Atrangi Re is a foul-mouthed, free spirited manic pixie trope of a woman, the Indian cis male idea of an emancipated modern woman. But she is a nothing.
After watching Atrangi Re, I read the professionally written reviews to see if any matched mine- no, they were largely complimentary except for the one in FirstPost where the reviewer seemed as horror struck as me.
Then I scanned through the individual reviews on Google, I read a review by a seemingly young woman who praised Sara Ali Khan’s performance to the skies. How brave, how outspoken, how fun and free, how emancipated was the character of Rinku Sooryavanshi, she gushed. She hoped her own character were like Rinku’s…
I knew another Rinku, in real life. That Rinku was born not only in an other family, she was born in another time, 19th century, it seemed.
My Rinku wasn’t brave or fun or high-spirited. Neither was her mother who was only 15 years older than her. Her mother would fetch her and drop her everywhere when the rest of us would be walking alone or in groups. Rinku was who we called ‘scholar’ in our times. Always studying, always topping, always the front bencher.
Nobody knew though that Rinku’s life was always in danger or how she and her mother fought bravely to keep her alive. They delayed informing the large joint family that Rinku had started menstruating at age 12. They only informed them at around age 14 when everyone started murmuring about talking to a doctor. By which time, Rinku was able to pass her 10th standard. She was on complete tenterhooks if she’d be able to finish her 12th but fortunately their family guru said that there was no shaadi ka yog, so she got a two-year reprieve and came on the state merit list.
Her graduation became harder, they didn’t allow her to join medical college because they expected her to be married shortly, and also because even the men in her community didn’t study beyond a BA or a BCom, and no one would want to marry an overqualified medico. So for the next three years of BSc, the mother and daughter feigned a mysterious gynaecological issue for which the treatment would take time. Her trials didn’t stop when she graduated with a gold medal. The first woman to graduate in her very rich, elite community. But there was no celebration, just a mourning that there were no men willing to marry her now, she might as well keep studying.
Rinku is now a scientist at one of the premier cancer research institutes in the US. Unmarried but living with a partner. Her mother often travels to meet her. They take annual vacations to different parts of world.
Rinku Sooryavanshi in Atrangi Re is a foul-mouthed, free spirited manic pixie trope of a woman, the Indian cis male idea of an emancipated modern woman. But she is a nothing. One of her love interests is a doctor and the other an illusionist. But Rinku exists only for her men, who lie to her, bully her, gaslight her, emotionally blackmail her and do not even allow her the agency of her body, to take her own medicines. Her story has ended at her marriage, at becoming a wife whereas the men will go on to do great things. The men have lives outside of her, friendships, interests, careers. But she has nothing. And yet a young girl somewhere in the world has idolised her as a hero.
Why do I watch such regressive films, I’m asked. To join the dots of the two Rinkus. How the real Rinku would pay the price of the cinematic Rinku wanting only to be a wife.
If I didn’t watch Atrangi Re, would I have remembered my brave Rinku and her even braver mother, whose head was always under a pallu, who was determined to give her daughter a future, a life that she couldn’t have. I know who I’d give a Padmashri to.
Hema Gopinathan left a blight of a corporate career to homeschool her two children. A teacher trained in the Waldorf/ Rudolf Steiner pedagogy, a writer, an artist, a crocheter, Hema spends half her time in read more...
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"There is a story and a vision which makes us gravitate towards cinema. Even as we worked as assistants on ads, we realised that cinema was our true calling," say Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh Raseen.
The Railway Men. Mili. Cuttputli. The Diplomat. Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. And more…
Let me introduce to you the talented designer duo who have worked on these, and can be considered today’s upcoming costume designers for the screen. Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh.
Having studied at NIFT, Gunpreet Kaur Mann sent her portfolio out to several designers. Her first gig was as an assistant stylist with Manoshi and Rushi, who also happen to be a designer duo. She worked on an ad film starring Saif Ali Khan and eventually landed a full time job with designer Vikram Phadnis. Years of experience as assistant costume designer followed, which eventually led her to getting a break.
A ‘thank you’ makes a lot of difference in the way any woman in your life sees herself in your eyes. It might even mean the world to her.
I have not received any appreciation in the past. Probably never will. This is the experience of ample women across the globe. The expectation to be thanked for all the sacrifices she makes to keep others happy has faded. Yet the urge to hear few words of acknowledgement always lingers.
There is never a day when she pushes off her own burdens. She knows not to give up on people she loves. Women in general, are givers by nature and hence, give without asking anything in return. They have been the care givers and lovers since centuries however receive no appreciation.
It will mean the world to your mother if you answer her calls. If your sister seems lost give her a hug and assure her about her strengths. Tomorrow, there might come a day when you would have to make your daughter feel empowered with few words of wisdom every now and then. For the children to feel wanted and loved, you must be able to spare some quality time with your wife and be present in the moment.
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