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Avantika was appalled at his callousness. “Do we need this scene? Is it fair that the heroine is scantily dressed, while the hero is suitably attired to brave the cold?”
“Avantika, this is your first time shooting in Switzerland. How does it feel?”
“It’s like a dream; the Alps, my debut, working with Hitesh Sir, and starring with a hero like Kabir. I feel privileged and blessed.”
“Thank you for this interview. We wish you all the best. You are looking lovely in the saree.”
“Yes, this is specially designed for a song. I can share with you that this is a dream sequence and very romantic. Hey, I’ve got to go now. It’s time for the shoot.”
Avantika bid the journalist goodbye and pulled the coat over her. What was the point of her coat anyway? She winced at the thought of what lay ahead.
The cabin was heated, she wouldn’t need it there. She would wear her coat in the cable car that took the crew from the cabin to the top of the snow-clad mountains. There, the coat and the woolens would come off. She would face the cold winds and gyrate, all the time with a smile on her face, while her hero would be dressed to the nines in sweaters and mittens.
Did directors think that actresses were cold-proof? There was no point cribbing. One had to accept and move on.
They regrouped at the cabin while the shot was getting ready. They hung up their coats on the racks since the temperature was regulated in the cabin and it was quite warm there. Hitesh and Kabir sipped on their drinks. They offered Avantika one. “You better have one or two. Helps face the cold better.”
That’s when you are wrapped in fur. But what drink in the world would give you warmth when you are decked in a mid-riff revealing paper-thin chiffon?
Lukas, the concierge in the cabin announced that the cable car was ready. They reached the top of the mountain, the shoot location, where the crew had assembled, and the cameras were in position. Avantika looked on enviously at the technicians there; they looked cozy and comfortable in winter wear.
Avantika took off her coat. A blast of icy wind hit her.
“Brrr….” Her teeth chattered.
She could do this, she told herself.
Kabir had taken off his designer sable-coat.
“It’s cold, isn’t it?” he winked at her.
You have no idea, you moron. You at least have a sweater and a scarf. Something, anything, to protect you.
“One, two, three…. action.”
The song played in the background, and Avantika began her steps. She was supposed to glide along gracefully, waving her pallu.
“Cut. Avantika, you look so rigid. Smile more. This is a love scene, not a horror movie.”
To me, it feels like horror. I can even think of a title. ‘Death by Hypothermia,’ she grimaced.
Three shots later, Avantika stopped pretending. It was getting difficult to breathe, her skin was tinged blue, and she felt light-headed. She felt the world going dark.
“Help!” Kabir screamed.
When Avantika woke up, she was wrapped in thick bedsheets in her hotel room, and a doctor was standing over her.
“Exposure to intense cold. She will be alright in a day or two.”
You didn’t have to be a genius to figure out the exposure part.
She heard Hitesh yell.
“A day or two? We are losing time and money.”
He came by to see her, later that day.
“Are you better? Do you think you can resume the shoot tomorrow? You will get used to the cold, eventually.”
Avantika was appalled at his callousness.
“Do we need this scene? Is it fair that the heroine is scantily dressed, while the hero is suitably attired to brave the cold?”
Hitesh’s face changed.
“You are a heroine- you can easily be replaced. Remember that.”
With that ominous warning, Hitesh left, leaving her shivering. This time, it wasn’t from the cold.
The next day, they all got back to the cabin. It was as though nothing had happened at all.
Hitesh and Kabir sipped drinks and cracked jokes.
“This time let’s hope Avantika doesn’t faint!” they guffawed, and Avantika forced a smile on her face.
Lukas turned up to remind them it was time to go. The team got ready to pick up their coats from the hangers.
They had just gotten into the cable car when Kabir started itching badly.
“What’s wrong?” Avantika asked.
“Something wrong with my coat. A bug perhaps?”
He took the coat off.
“Uff… it’s freezing. Wait, even my sweater is itchy.”
He pulled it off.
“Phew, the itching is fine. Hey…. but it’s so cold. I don’t know which is worse.”
Avantika looked at Hitesh who was undergoing something similar and was rapidly pulling off his woolens.
“What is causing me to itch this much? God, it’s cold.”
“You will get used to it, eventually. Look, we’ve reached.” She smiled sweetly.
Kabir took one step out of the cable car onto the snow and howled.
“I will catch pneumonia in this cold. Can this scene. It’s a dream sequence. It can be shot anywhere. And get my coat dry cleaned as soon as possible!”
The Alps-saree scene was cancelled. Hitesh thought it was jinxed anyway. They did the song amidst colorful flowers in a garden, and this time Avantika got to wear warm clothing of her choice. The shoot went ahead without a hitch.
It was the last day of the shoot. Avantika made her way back to the cabin, one last time. She had someone to thank.
“Lukas. Thank you for everything!”
She passed him some crisp Swiss Francs. He nodded, as he pocketed the money.
It had been Avantika’s idea to teach her team a lesson. Lukas had been the perfect accomplice. He had dusted Hitesh’s and Kabir’s coats with itching-powder, just before they left for the shoot. And it had worked. They got to know what the cold was like. She hoped they realized how hard it would have been for her.
She walked back with a smile on her face. She didn’t feel any guilt for her actions.
“Someone had to teach them that heroines are not cold-proof.”
Image source: a still from the film Chandni
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Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
Darlings makes some excellent points about domestic violence . For such a movie to not follow through with a resolution that won't be problematic, is disappointing.
I watched Darlings last weekend, staying on top of its release on Netflix. It was a long-awaited respite from the recent flicks. I wanted badly to jump into its praise and will praise it, for something has to be said for the powerhouse performances it is packed with. But I will not be able to in a way that I really had wanted to.
I wanted to say that this is a must-watch on domestic violence that I stand behind and a needed and nuanced social portrayal. But unfortunately, I can’t. For I found Darlings to be deeply problematic when it comes to the portrayal of domestic violence and how that should be dealt with.
Before we rush to the ‘you must be having a problem because a man was hit’ or ‘much worse happens to women’ conclusions, that is not what my issue is. I have seen the praises and criticisms, and the criticisms of criticisms. I know, from having had close associations with non-profits and activists who fight domestic violence not just in India but globally, that much worse happens to women. I have written a book with case studies and statistics on that. Neither do I have any moral qualms around violence getting tackled with violence (that will be another post some day).