Although I initially thought I would write one. But then there are enough articles doing the rounds on whether Bollywood’s latest is a radical statement about the times-they-are-a’changin, or India’s answer to Sex and the City and Gossip Girls, or a completely misguided approach to feminism OR a mix of all of these. So no, this isn’t yet another review. This is me lounging in the despair of my millennial middle-classness.
Let’s face it, most of us twenty-somethings in India belong to two categories when it comes to coming-of-age films. There are those who unabashedly admit that they love them, and there are those who sardonically state that these films set unrealistic expectations, but sneakily watch them at some point anyway. I happen to flit between the two and after having spent a decade watching several of these, I have come to an overriding conclusion.
Self-actualization happens only in exotic foreign locations whilst holidaying with your soulmates and there is no way I can afford it.
Not before another ten years which is too long a time to stay confused in life. For starters, most of my Veeres (closest friends) and I are either broke, struggling between degrees and jobs, or highly paid but so ridiculously overworked that they’re barely holding on to sanity, let alone going on holiday. We’ve all grown up in relative comfort, but not luxury, which places us in the uncomfortable situation of being able to potentially plan that holiday as not impossible but definitely not as easy as surfing a website, booking those tickets and WHOOSH!
We’re twenty-five and unlike these movies, our life problems are just as confused as we are: way beyond deciding whether the Bachelor trip is in Spain or France, or whether to marry a doting partner (who will stay with you anyway) in a villa or a farmhouse, but way more insignificant than BPL incomes, discrimination and refugee situations. We’re twenty-five, all fired up with the thought of making a difference, and still have to ask our parents before planning a trip inside India, for work or pleasure. We’re twenty-five and stuck between once-in-a-lifetime dreams and what is expected of us. And movies like VDW might have funny jokes, and lovely bad-ass women. But on most days, they just make me want to curl up and cry. And I don’t have to go to Thailand to do it.
That apart, things that work for the film-
- Shikha Talsania and Swara Bhasker’s on-point acting skills
- Sumeet Vyas, who makes his presence felt in a wonderfully balanced fashion in a role that’s not even a lead. (and is just as sweet as Mikesh from Permanent Roommates)
- The existence of a gay couple as a normal part of existence and not in the typical Bollywood trope of supposed humour. (although I’ll be really glad when they gain the maturity to stop equating being gay with necessarily being ‘feminine’)
- Several dialogue-less scenes where the women interact with each other, especially in talking about sex and pleasure, although they could fail the Bechdel given the theme revolves around weddings and lovers and men.
Things that don’t-
- A very weird sub-scene where Sonam Kapoor’s character talks to her maid about the latter’s domestic abuse which as Kaneez Surka points out is done in so careless and jocular a fashion that it makes you go WTF.
- Sonam, and Kareena to an extent, sounding and feeling a lot more like their real actress personas, rather than two friends out of a gang of four that have been inseparable since high school. (These four women manage to pull off this dynamic way more convincingly in a similar Web series called The Trip)
- The highly overused flashy Punjabi and slutty Bengali tropes which honestly are beginning to greatly piss me off.
- The backstories for some of these people- Swara’s character, that of an upper upper-class rich society woman believably getting blackmailed by her London-settled husband for 5 crores based on the fact that: he caught her masturbating. WTF moment again.