Bharat Express

Laapata Ladies: Unveiling Refreshingly ‘Real Feminism’, It’s Just Short Of Inclusivity, In The Lost Indian Content Space

Just simply aping the Western mindset in your clothing or language certainly does not qualify anyone as being modern and the other as the ‘ganwar regressive behenji’.
This is exactly where ‘ Laapataa Ladies’ wins as the Behenjis find their rightful dignity and place. It even wants you to be the behenji. Now that’s a big achievement!

Unveiling Refreshingly 'Real Feminism'

Unveiling Refreshingly 'Real Feminism'

Kiran Rao’s latest directorial offering ‘Laapataa Ladies’ is creating a buzz on the internet for all the right reasons.
This article is not a film review but more an appreciation of getting feminism right and portraying it so purely and honestly, while touching all the right chords. Just next time Rao could expand her cinemascape beyond the Ghunghat to the Burqa, The white bridal etc to be more inclusive towards feminism.

The film has recently been released on the OTT platform and there is a lot to celebrate about beyond just being another film.

‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ standing tall on the shoulder of ‘Atma Nirbhar Ladies’

In my view, this film could be the perfect official insignia or mascot of today’s modern India and its women in a true to its roots ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’. It breaks away from the shackles of the colonial hangover and embraces and celebrates ‘Real Women’ and ‘Real Feminism’.

Reclaiming the ‘Behenji’ tag; Today’s modern woman is not a wallflower, but rather the champion
For years and till date we tend to confuse the western way, whether its ideology, language, clothing or lifestyle with modernity.
Switch on any mainstream web or big screen content it looks down upon Indian native especially Hindu traditions and celebrates the now cliche polar opposite.
The brash, aggressive, foul mouthed,rebel without a real cause. She is English speaking, barely clad or even the corporate skirt with a glass of champagne in her hand as the prototype of the modern feminist woman.
She may have multiple sexual partners and breaking tradition especially associated with native Indian culture seems to be the benchmark for her modernity.

No moral judgement here, but just by simply aping the Western mindset in your clothing or language certainly does not qualify anyone as being modern and the other as the ‘ganwar regressive behenji’.

This is exactly where ‘Laapataa Ladies’ wins as the Behenjis find their rightful dignity and place. It even wants you to be the behenji. Now that’s a big achievement. Kudos!

Though Rao too doesn’t take a plunge towards regressive practices in other communities. Maybe she will be bold enough to have a sequel which shatters the fake feminism that celebrates the Burqa as a feminist symbol.

From being lost to being found

Set in the 90s The film has ‘Pushpa and Phool’ as the Laapataa Ladies at the centre of it all. The story of two women who mistakenly get interchanged and lost while travelling in a train as newly wed brides to their new homes aka sasural covered under the traditional ‘ghunghat’.

At the centre is the love story of the newlyweds Deepak and Phool played by the extremely talented Sparsh Srivastava and Nitanshi Goel respectively.
Phool gets left behind in the train and Deepak mistakenly brings home another newly wed bride Pushpa also beautifully portrayed by the talented Pratibha Ranta.

Deepak’s efforts to consistently find his bride and Phool’s optimism and faith in her love really tugs at the heart. They have set a new benchmark for real couple goals.

This slice of life film takes us on a roller coaster journey while touching upon so many themes.

The film celebrates real feminism and this is where it wins.
It celebrates ‘real women’ and the dynamics of native Indian culture even referring to talent and Saraswati maa, the Goddess of knowledge in a positive light and it gets all the checkboxes right.

It is lovingly liberating both for the central female characters as well as the audience.

Will Kiran Rao give us another Laapataa Ladies with Real Feminism featuring another community?

It would be great to have ‘Zunaira and Zubeida’ or ‘Catherine and Carol’ as the two lost Laapataa Ladies?.

It would surely be refreshing to see their journeys to freedom from the communal and societal regressive practices they face as Indian women. Now that would be a bold move in the Indian content space.

Hope Kirran Rao is up for the challenge.

The burqa versus the ghunghat or even the bikini is it all the same?
Breaking certain regressive practices across communities is surely needed and not just in our country but globally.

At the same time, proudly owning the native positive traditions of the land you live in is also important to preserve culture.

The so-called intellectual modern feminists become voiceless when it comes to the Burqa or the Hijab as a regressive practice. It is instead celebrated as a sign of freedom of choice. I have failed to see the freedom in it till date.

Covering the face means covering Identity
While the main male lead Deepak is on a crazy chase looking for his lost wife, Phool while frantically showing her photo wherever he goes.

An interaction with a gentleman who claims upon seeing the ghunghat clad bride’s photograph exclaims that the face is the identity.
Just then his burqa clad wife comes to serve him tea is ironic to say the least.

This scene is not just hilarious but for me it calls out the glaring hypocrisy of the malicious global agenda against only the majority Hindu community. It serves as a huge statement with maybe even a pinch of sarcasm. Either way it’s brilliant.
Rao, has only scratched the surface here.It certainly needs an entire film and not just a blink and miss token scene.

It’s much like the one small blink and miss scene about the religious bigotry in other communities in the Aamir Khan starrer ‘PK’. It focuses mainly on the Hindu community to the point of being Hinduphobic. While barely touching upon other communities.

Laapataa Ladies gives us find some beautiful life lessons too

The film gets the portrayal of its women and to some extent a section of our society quite right. The innocent and naive Phool, ends up growing up with what she goes through. She starts to work at the train station and this is where she meets Manju Mai aka Dadi, another brilliant character who gives her life lessons which every woman and for that matter human beings ought to know.
Yet all throughout Phool is optimistic about reuniting with her loving husband Deepak and
her faith in her marriage is unshaken.

This film is certainly not about male bashing.But rather it’s about knowing your own self worth. A lesson in learning to live with happiness with oneself and being comfortable in your skin.

You don’t need to be a certain prototype to be modern or buy into the kind of feminism that is sold to us as content of female emancipation.

Still from the Emmy nominated Indian series Four More Shots Please!

It’s narrative is regressive in its own way and ends up discrediting exactly what it claims to stand for.)

Manju Mai: A breath of Feminist fresh air
Contrast the characters of ‘Four More Shots Please’ with someone like Manju Mai.
She is like a breath of much needed feminist fresh air.
An independent tea vendor who has seen the world signifies modern feminism much better.

Phool too, who gets lost only to be found also ends up finding herself. Throughout the film she looks forward to being united with her husband and for her that still remains her number one priority.

Pushpa: The iconic other Dreaming big in a small desi rural corner and on the run to chase her dreams
The other bride is so layered, complex and beautifully portrayed.
She would be a perfect ambassador for ‘Skill India’ or ‘Aatmnirbhar Bharat’.
She dreams of studying at a Dehradun college to further the cause of organic farming.She doesn’t dream of drinking fine wine or speaking in English.
But she just wants some time on loan which her mother refuses to give her and instead gets her married. The mishap of getting mistakenly interchanged with another bride gives her dream another chance.
At first she comes across as cryptic and scheming.
While all along she is only trying to hide her identity, just to be able to realise her dream of pursuing a higher education at all costs.
She finally gets to do so all because of being a Lapaataa lady who also ends up finding herself and more

Female camaraderie : Try karein?

Pushpa’s entry into Deepak’s home changes the dynamics of the house. She befriends the younger Bahu of the house, Poonam and the other ladies of the house.
This leads to a beautiful moment in the film inspired by Pushpa and poonam’s camaraderie.
It leads to a moment, where the eldest saas-bahu duo, who are generally at each other’s throat, have a breakthrough.
Where the bahu says to her saas, if they could be Sahelis or friends and they both smile with the saas replying “Try karein”.


Laapataa Ladies: Finding a new identity for its woman and beyond.
Be your own woman, your own Saheli!
A friend and to other women and support each other’s dreams.

This film will have a far reaching impact especially if it reaches the smallest rural corners and the tallest skyscrapers everywhere.
More importantly if it cut across communities and reaches every ghunghat , burqa or bikini clad woman

In an interview with Neelesh Misra, Kiran Rao along with her team actually mentioned how they were getting such positive optimistic feedback from all over the country.
She even mentioned about one woman in rural India who wrote to her saying she wants her daughter to work even after marriage and she would support her daughter’s dreams.

Urban India: Wake up and smell ‘Real Feminism’
Being a homemaker is a choice too and a big, beautiful one.
As women at least lets not question other women.
If a woman wants to be a farmer, a tea vendor or a homemaker, let’s try and support each other.
Let’s be friends,not just at kitty parties or a girls night out with 35% off drinks.
Let’s be friends with the domestic or sanitary worker, the parlour lady, others at work and most importantly the woman in the mirror.
Let’s wake up to the Hijab and burqa narrative as fake symbols of feminism.
Let no woman be conditioned to wear the ghunghat, the burqa or bikini as her freedom of choice

It’s also time to say goodbye to the colonial hangover and tag some women as’ down market’ or’ behenjis’. It’s time to put an end to fake feminism and replace it with some Indian desi pride.

It’s time not just for “Phool and Pushpa” but also, “Carol and Catherine”and “Shaista and Sakina” to find their dreams and not succumb to or be fooled to believe that these regressive practices are their choice.

It’s time to be Sahelis with every woman, Try karte hain!