Kai Po Che : Through feminist eyes…

A lovely movie, do watch. Fast paced, very relevant today, touches upon some issues close to my heart and is fun too. Should be a big box office hit.

No Spoilers.

BUT, once you start looking at the world through feminist eyes, it is difficult not to notice what half the population is denied.

The movie made me wonder, where in India are we likely to see young Indian women doing the things these young Indian men do with such ease (without being judged or blamed)?

(screen shots from the trailer above)

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.37.20 AM.png Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.38.21 AM.png Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.39.22 AM.pngDo take a look at this trailer,

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1s3YIagZOo

Now that we are creating good movies, I hope we see movies that pass the Bechdel Test too; this one doesn’t. And when we want to show independent minded women, I hope we see women doing more than what Vidya seems to do in this movie.

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Where in India are you likely to see teenage girls doing this?

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40 thoughts on “Kai Po Che : Through feminist eyes…

  1. Ah!!! You know even I had thought this, i.e. when will have a movie about Friendship & women!!! All I can think of is Aisha which was a little on that theme but then again it was all about Men & how to find a good one!

    • If you can get your hands on a VCS/DVD of the Marathi movie ‘Bindhaast’, watch it–I hope they have subtitles. This was released almost a decade ago, and has only female characters except for the one man that appears for a few minutes towards the end, if I remember correctly. It talks about the same thing–bonding, female friendships/relationships and how they are never paid any attention.

  2. :D I just saw this movie yesterday and loved it like anything ! :D I will do a post soon on this movie :D

    About where are all the girls !? I don’t know when they will make a movie like that on girl bonding… but… I assure you they play cricket we just had a world cup of women… infact… they played pretty much fresh breath cricket… unlike the men it was all classical… spinners would flight the ball… the seamers would swing it… and proper cricketing shots … it was quite nice actually.. too bad our girls didn’t win !

    • And I am instantly reminded of CHAK DE where the team was all gritty girls but lead by a STRONG (read cliche`) male coach.

      what is so disheartening that often women achievers have admitted that their achievements are credited to men in family and outside and not to them solely.

  3. I so-so agree with you IHM…well there is DCH, ZNMD, 3 Idiots and now this one Kai Po Che. I have been so sick & tired of watching these male’only’-bonding movies that I didn’t go for Kai Po che. Not that I have anything against these movie but all movies that you see on friends’ bonding and relationship turn out to be soo-very male-centric.

    No doubt, there are movies like Aisha & Turning 30!! but they just end-up looking like a caricature of female-bonding with more about hooking-up/ breaking-up with a guy & other guy related troubles THAN really about “female bonding” (though I like turning 30 in bits & pieces)…

    Hello, any producer/ director listening !! :)

    • That’s true. Men subconsciously think of women only when they “need” something. Food, sex, emotional support, housework, laundry services, someone to talk to, someone to entertain them….

      I’ve never had a male friend ask me “How are you?” and REALLY listen to my reply. Most men ask it in a perfunctory manner before launching into what THEY wish to talk about, what bothering THEM.

      Maybe its hard for them to place somebody’s else’s needs or views before their own….

      We women do it all the time, so its easy for us. Men are used to seeing themselves centrestage all the time, with women being admiring satellites that orbit around them

      • I’m sorry that this has been your experience, but I must register my disagreement.

        There is nothing inherently male about being a bad listener (or vice versa); I admit I’ve met more men than women who fit that description, but the majority is not all that overwhelming. The difference is more in the manifestation of indifference. I’ve met many, many terribly self-involved women myself, and while their self-involvement was no more pleasant than the male version of it, I did observe that they were a bit better at hiding it, in accordance with the ‘good woman’ traits that society expects of them (which it doesn’t from men).

        I do wish we stopped making blanket statements like these about either sex. While not meaning to negate your own experiences and views, I confess that I find such statements disdainful, and at some level, a bit offensive.

        I should hope that over the years, I, and perhaps many other like me, have gained wisdom enough to not overrate our own importance, female satellites or not. :)

      • Well Biwo, this sounds sexist. As much as feminism means breaking gender roles of what women must do, we also must not resort to what patriarchy does: assigning men to specific roles of non listener or other roles.

        It is unfortunate that most men you know think like that, then it is a result of social conditioning which has to be broken. You feel you are not listened to, then don’t listen or hold conversations where you are not listened to or feel respected!

        Women don’t place other peoples needs all the time before their own out of love or nature, we do it because we are conditioned. Because we are made to feel guilty about taking time for ourselves.

        • Generalizations I would agree are what discriminatory power structures like patriarchy thrive on,so must be avoided but yes our women need to be seen as REAL as just PEOPLE , the gender need not be in focus.We need to let our girls play football,ride bikes,go out alone and similarly be okay if our boys choose to cook,dress up,go to the salon more often,play with dolls and cry,in films and in real life.

  4. I will start watching hindi movies again when we have a female dil chahata hai version. If a hindi movie is ever is good it is usually about male bonding and friendships, why never about women? Even English-Vinglish was a safe movie sticking to “adarsh bhartiya naari” ideals in the end unfortunately.
    Bechdel test for movies – absolutely a good test, even most Oscar movies fail miserably at it. That is why I loved Zero Dark Thirty, besides all the controversy around torture, it does show strong minded women (and more than one), I want to be as awesome as that female CIA analyst, would love to show the second half of that movie to my daughter about headstrong/opinionated women who dedicate years of their life to their work or what they believe in with no stupid romantic “dancing around tree” story mixed in as is the case with even best of the hindi movies.

    • That’s why I LOVE Homeland. I love Carrie Mathison’s fierce, tortured and driven character. She’s not not plastic like the women in CSI. Carrie’s flawed, imperfect but fierce in her zeal and her commitment towards her work.

      That’s the reason I prefer Hollywood and American TV to Bollywood and Indian TV. The sexism is less blatant, the stereotypes are more nuanced and the woman are more real. Will we ever see Carrie Mathison on Indian TV? Probably not.

      • You’re absolutely right Biwo. Loved her character. She’s not trying to win a popularity contest, just trusts her own instincts and does what she thinks is right.

    • Yes the CIA analyst played by Jessica Chastain was awesome! While watching this movie, I felt like bursting out of my seat and fighting the politically correct bigwigs right next to her. For 2 days after the movie, I was mouthing off everyone who dared to condescend to me in the slightest way:)
      Which goes to show you how much influence popular media/fictional characters can have on a person. Perhaps this is what’s missing all along for us in India. Forget, lack of role models. Movies have so clearly divided women into good (doormats) and bad (independent) that even a normal, sane guy will be confused about what he wants in a woman. When he does meet a woman with desirable qualities (smart, independent, capable), far from being attracted to her, he might feel threatened. Years of social conditioning about what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in a woman have completely distorted our perception.

      • That is true.I know a guy who married one of my friends after interviewing her for a half hour.He liked her because she read books,saw no soaps ,wasn’t a bolly fan,worked and was willing to relocate to his city and continued working after marriage.Within 6 months of their marriage she was promoted and asked to go abroad on an assignment. This was too much for him.He cribbed about her being a workaholic,having too many friends at office which is why she never picks up the phione after the first ring,non committed to her family, etc etc and finally she quit her job.Now she sits at home and takes care of their child. Before getting married she would laugh at something funny so hard that there would be tears in her eyes and now she hardly even smiles when i talk with her on the phone.

        Men really are confused when it comes to women in power unless that woman happens to be his mother or sister.

  5. As a boy growing up in India, me and my friends, on the weekends, used to loiter around different parts of the city on bikes and buses with no purpose whatsoever, much like the boys in the first picture. All did was talk shit, smoke and drink. There never was any purpose to what we did. I saw very few Indian girls do the same with their girl friends. Do women feel the need to do such aimless wandering?It seemed like the girls were always dressed up or had a purpose to their weekends.

  6. Same Old Movie- Male Dominated & TV – Female dominated debate.
    But thr r som good soaps on Channel V- Suvreen Guggal, BFF with awesome female bonding- something which we can relate to- not mere cliched boys talk and beauty tips and the like.
    There was this show Rishta.com on Sony- amazing plot- ended due to less TRPs (which means show ws great). Hip Hip Hoorray on Z was a schooltime favourite. Another soap called Remix aired in starone had this awesome character- headstrong, witty, independent single-mom.
    But movies…? Filhaal is the only 1 i can remember

  7. Kai Po Che is based on Chetan Bhagat’s book, ‘The 3 Mistakes of my life’. It does touch upon some very relevant issues.
    Are any Indian authors writing about women in current day India? I’m so tired of all that colonial stuff. Please suggest titles (sorry to go off topic here).

  8. Well, Indian movies with strong female characters are rather thin on the ground.

    If pressed, I’d probably say that I somewhat liked the female protagonist in Kahaani, and also in DevD, mostly because.of the semblance of normalcy and human failings they presented – something missing in most female characters in India.

    On a more positive note, me and my wife recently had the good fortune of watching a rather brilliant French movie called Persepolis, which features an Iranian girl’s life and times growing up in the backdrop of the Iranian revolution. It came recommended by a dear friend, and we absolutely did not regret it. It’s a very powerful, enthralling piece of cinema, told entirely from the point of view of a young girl/woman (she grows into the latter during the course of the film).

    I might add that it was panned in some countries for being offensive to traditional Islamic values – something that is usually a pretty good indicator of a movie that is refreshing and somewhat hard-hitting in its content. Do watch if you get the chance.

  9. So true, my daughter have started asking me this question, that why most of the groups are among men. For this reason she finds famous fives (enid blyton) or barbie stories (by disney) more comforting. They talk about groups with girls and boys or where girls dare. Her preference and viewpoint has made me softer towards barbie movies :)

  10. It’s not just about female bonding in the movies. In general, women cannot dream of doing the very ordinary things that men take for granted. Just to give you an example, if you feel very thirsty while on the road, and just want to have tea by yourself at a roadside chai shop, can you do it without thinking 10 times about it? Or even if you do, you’re likely to be the only woman around with ten idiots staring at you. So you go into a cafe coffee day and pony up fancy prices!

      • I am going to disagree with you here. When roadside ka chai was the cafe coffee day 17 years ago, It was a common thing for me to drink chai at the tapri anywhere , or if thirsty ask for a glass of water at a bar. i could not be scared at all – you know why – i just did not have enough greens in my pocket . I could faint going hungry and have the “cutting” or wait for 45 minutes to get home and drink water. i always looked for my comfort first – being their , done that. – just because that was the NEED of the hour.

    • This one’s very much in our hands. Even when alone, I regularly stop by for refreshments at restaurants, coffee stalls and by roadside coconut vendors.

      Granted, that its mostly in Mumbai or Bangalore, where women are probably more safer in public places than say Delhi or Gurgaon.

      It doesn’t bother me and I’m mostly left alone. The staring is ubiquitous, but its not always offensive.

      We women have to start claiming whatever freedom we can in small ways, instead of waiting for society to change for us to feel comfortable.

      Its the only way to initiate real change in India. We have to dress as we please, occupy public spaces, laugh loudly, assert out rights in relationships and leave abusive unequal marriages.

      Social change happens when huge masses of people change their thinking and their behavior. :)

  11. Does Sarabhai vs. Sarabhai pass Bechdel test? I Love it. Sosad its off the air. Probably CBDivakaruni’s Palace of Illusions too?

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