Script Analysis of ‘TOILET: EK PREM KATHA’

 

STORY IDEA - Jaya leaves her husband Keshav, as there’s no toilet at their house. 
Keshav sets out on a mission to win her back by fighting against the age-old values 
of rural India.

Toilet_Ek_Prem_Katha

Channelling the unexplored woes of women in rural India, Toilet : Ek Prem Katha is one of the rare films that talks about the issues and functions of the women body, often considered grotesque for the mainstream audience, and is woven around the travesty of open defecation. Toilet is a love story of a newly married couple where the degree-educated wife asks for her right to a toilet at her new home, a demand which spirals the hollow concretes of social dogmas into a whirlwind with her husband at the centre of it. This is a premise that addresses a relevant social problem through a more personal one, will the men of rural India learn to stand up for their women and their basic rights? Let us find out if the plot explores the thematic possibilities of the idea and if it does justice to it.

PLOT ANALYSIS

The plot of the film is two-fold, one about Jaya-Keshav’s love story and the other about the problem of open defecation. And it is to the credit of the writers that they give the upper hand to the love story while using the social issue as a much-validated canvas, at least for most parts of the film. Lack of availability of toilets is essentially a device for the much larger expose of women living without their basic rights in rural India. However, later in the film, the device assumes the form of a campaign to align well with the ongoing tide of Swach Bharat Mission.

The film’s initial reels setup the love story between Keshav and Jaya almost at a snail pace, which disallows their primary conflict to kick in early. Keshav is a mid-30s man who has not gotten married due to his extremely superstitious father, who believes that his kundli requires him to marry a buffalo first, and then find a woman who has an extra thumb or else his marriage would fail. Being a supposed playboy himself, Keshav has a history of relationships, which he manages well with his business of selling bicycles. But when he falls for Jaya, he becomes the quintessential 20 year old who would stop at nothing to stalk her. Jaya, the well-educated and accepting woman, is the perfect anti-dote for an uncouth Keshav, who is horrified by his orthodox father. Amidst the laughs, we do sense a streak of righteousness in Keshav which wins over Jaya and she stalks him right back. They fall in love soon in a heart-warming series of scenes, soaked in nostalgia of the small town love affairs.

They manage to convince Keshav’s father by faking an extra thumb on Jaya’s hand. Their marriage takes place happily, but all hell breaks loose when Jaya is woken up the next morning by the women of the community to accompany them for their ‘lota party’ (signifying their ritual of going in groups to defecate in the fields). Jaya goes along, but when she sees the plight of the women openly exposing themselves in the fields, she gets disgusted and returns home, much to the shock of Keshav. Thus, the conflict in the drama is set up with Jaya telling Keshav to build a toilet inside the house or she would leave. Here, begins the ordeal of Keshav trying to help Jaya defecate every morning by finding various solutions, as his father outrightly rejects the petition for a toilet inside the house, calling it unceremonious for brahmins to break their age-old tradition. When Keshav’s quick-fixes for Jaya run out of steam, she does walk out on him and starts living back at her parents’ home, where she has grown up with a toilet inside the house.

Keshav’s desperate solutions to bring her back end up landing him in jail, which is when he decides to take up the matter with the village panchayat, who scoff at his request of building a toilet in the village for women. Keshav realizes that the problem is more universal than personal, as the women of the village are seemingly okay with defecating in the fields, while the men, as well as the panchayat are dead against breaking their so-called traditions.

Keshav, besotted by Jaya’s love, and determined to bring her back, decides to let go of his dubious ways of small-term solutions and approaches the higher authorities for a social change. He only realizes that one cannot blame the system and the government for all their plight, as sometimes, the change needs to come from within the society.

The first half of the film, although a bit overlong, is humorous and breezy, getting us invested in Keshav and Jaya’s love story. The second half of the film tries to strengthen the love story by putting it through various tests of time, but the conscious diversions into a propaganda driven message-y approach to the social issue makes the film a juggling exercise between education and entertainment, and would often put off even an unassuming audience. Ultimately, the humor does reduce and the climax rings untrue in an otherwise plausible film. Nevertheless, it is the love story between the characters that rides the film through despite being pulled apart by the need to force in the political agenda of its makers.

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

While Keshav and Jaya form the crux of the film, Toilet is also laced with some colourful supporting cast, most of which adds to the flavour of the film. Keshav’s brother, Naru, is the quintessential side-kick, carrying the abnormally high weight of the best of punches in the film. Naru seems to not have much of a life of his own, as he chooses to hang around Keshav all the time, but he is also the only one who believes in Keshav entirely, even when Jaya leaves him. Naru is Keshav’s sounding board, his bank of good and bad ideas, and ultimately, his well-wisher who would stick by him in his fight.

Embodying the role of the purposed antagonist of the film is Panditji, Keshav and Naru’s father, a man who is more of a chant-spewing patriarch, who has lived his entire life following the traditions and customs of his religion and being bound by it. He appears to be the lead custodian of culture in the village, while you would find many of his likes otherwise. His mother, Dadi, is where it all comes from as she propagates the same bigotry. On the other hand is Jaya’s mother, Vidya, who tells her to go back to Keshav’s house because he is a good man and that Jaya is over-reacting over a toilet. Both supporting women characters are etched out as a reflection of the men to drive home the point that women become their own biggest enemies. However, Jaya finds comfort in her father, and her Sunny Leone lusting uncle, Kakka, who have grown out of the dogmatic practices of our culture and don’t mind giving a piece of their mind to others as well.

While Jaya is a woman who challenges the small realities of rural India, whether by riding a bicycle built for a man or by calling out Keshav’s age, it is Keshav who becomes the centrepiece of this ensemble. Starting off as a rather callous fellow, it takes Keshav a while to be emphatic towards Jaya’s woes, but once he does, he slowly graduates to becoming her commander in her fight for dignity, not by heroics, but just by standing by her.

SCREENPLAY ANALYSIS

The screenplay of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, comes across as largely choppy due to a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the screenplay takes a long while to come to the core conflict of the film, which is the problem of defecation. It spends an unruly amount of time to set up Keshav and Jaya’s love story while it could have done away with a much swifter pace there. The middle portion where Keshav tries to find temporary fixes for Jaya’s problem are the better portions of the film and quite engaging. During the second half, the screenplay becomes preachy about the social issue and crams a lot more than it is built for in the final act. It is here that the scenes become a propaganda exercise for the filmmakers, a court case becomes an absurd excuse to blow the issue out of proportion, and characters begin to jump from their original nature a bit too conveniently.

But amidst the mess, there is a lot to like in it as well. The screenplay does manage to make us laugh, through the use of quirky dialogues, and punches, almost throughout the runtime of the film. Some power-packed scenes, which are not agenda-driven, do bring across a heartfelt love story of the protagonists who we want to see get together. Jaya hates the predicament she has been put into, but she loves Keshav, and he loves her back. It is this uncompromised love that works for this social melodrama, helped by striking performances of the cast as well. Use of subplots, albeit minimal, looks unnecessary, as are a couple of the songs, which only hinder the narrative, instead of adding to it.

CONCLUSION

On the whole, the screenplay does partial justice to the idea of the film by indulging in the loud campaigning of the social problem, and one does feel the want for a crisper narrative on the premise. The entertainment, despite being laced around a toilet, does not pass off as toilet humor, and it is appreciable. The message, although novel and well-meant, comes across as if it is being pushed down our throats, which makes us care less about it, and more about the love story, getting shortchanged at the hands of politics.

  • SUDEEP NIGAM 

Sudeep is a trained screenwriter from Whistling Woods International and a freelance film critique. sudeepnigam11@gmail.com

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ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी (श्रद्धांजलि)

 

Zafar Gorakhpuri

ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी (5 मई 1935 – 29 जुलाई 2017)

(श्रद्धांजलि)

ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी

जन्म: बैदौली बासगांव, गोरखपुर | निधन: मुम्बई, अंधेरी (पश्चिम

गुज़रे ज़माने के वरिष्ठ शायर ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी का शनिवार 29 जुलाई 2017 को निधन हो गया। वे अपने पीछे पुत्र अयाज गोरखपुरी और इंतेयाज गोरखपुरी को छोड़ गए हैं।

ज़फ़र साहब ने हिंदी फ़िल्मों के लिए भी कई यादगार गीत लिखें, जैसे “किताबें बहुत सी पढ़ी होंगी तुमने” (बाज़ीगर 1996)। उनके अन्य लोकप्रिय गीतों के बारे में जानने के लिए इस लिंक पर जाएँ।

Zafar_Gorakhpuri_2

ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी बासगांव तहसील के बेदौली बाबू गांव में 5 मई 1935 को जन्मे। प्रारंभिक शिक्षा गांव में प्राप्त करने के बाद उन्होंने मुंबई को अपना कर्मक्षेत्र बनाया। बताया जाता है कि मुम्बई वे मजदूरी करने गए थें। सन 1952 में उन्होंने शायरी की शुरूआत की थी। उन्हें अपने ज़माने में एक से एक आला शायरों का साथ मिला। वे फ़िराक़ गोरखपुरी,जोश मलीहाबादी, मजाज़ लखनवी और जिगर मुरादाबादी सरीखे शायरों को सुनते और उन्हें भी अपनी शायरी सुनाते। उनके पास न केवल विशिष्ट और आधुनिक अंदाज़े बयां था, बल्कि उन्होंने उर्दू गजल के क्लासिकल मूड को भी नया आयाम दिया। आवाम से जुड़ाव की ताज़गी ने उनकी ग़ज़लों को आम आदमी के बीच लोकप्रिय बनाया। ज़फ़र प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ से भी जुड़े थे।

ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी का पहला संकलन तेशा (1962) दूसरा वादिए-संग (1975) तीसरा गोखरु के फूल (1986) चौथा चिराग़े-चश्मे-तर (1987) पांचवां संकलन हलकी ठंडी ताज़ा हवा(2009) प्रकाशित हुआ।  हिंदी में उनकी ग़ज़लों का संकलन आर-पार का मंज़र 1997 में प्रकाशित हुआ। उन्होंने बाल साहित्य में भी योगदान दिया। उनकी रचनाएं महराष्ट्र के शैक्षिक पाठ्यक्रम में पहली से लेकर स्नातक तक के कोर्स में पढाई जाती हैं। बच्चों के लिए उनकी दो किताबें कविता संग्रह ‘नाच री गुड़िया’ 1978 में प्रकाशित हुआ जबकि कहानियों का संग्रह ‘सच्चाइयां’ 1979 में आया।

रचनात्मक उपलब्धियों के लिए ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी को महाराष्ट्र उर्दू आकादमी का राज्य पुरस्कार (1993), इम्तियाज़े मीर अवार्ड (लखनऊ) और युवा-चेतना सम्मान समिति गोरखपुर द्वारा फ़िराक़ सम्मान (1996) में मिला। 1997 में संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिका की यात्रा कर कई मुशायरों में हिंदुस्तान का प्रतिनिधित्व किया।

स्क्रीनराइटर्स एसोसिएशन उनके निधन पर गहन शोक व्यक्त करते हुए परमात्मा से उनकी आत्मा की परम शांति की प्रार्थना करती है।

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DUNKIRK

DUNKIRK

“A MASTERCLASS IN FILMMAKING!”

CROP Dunkirk Poster    COP Christopher Nolan

Written & Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Written and directed by acclaimed British-American filmmaker Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk paints a vivid account of one of Britain’s most celebrated historical events. Set in the year 1940, Nolan’s latest venture tells the harrowing tale of Operation Dynamo: the ‘miracle’ that allowed for the evacuation of 400,000 beleaguered British and Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk (Dunkerque, France) in the midst of an air raid by the German Luftwaffe. With a diverse ensemble of British A-listers and Hollywood newcomers, Dunkirk focuses on its tide-turning subject with such pounding, pitiless conviction that it is impossible not to lose oneself in its expansive ingenuity.

Adopting a non-linear, triptych format that is narrated through three perspectives – land, air and sea – this World War II epic is a tense but thrilling tale of survival, fear, and the enormous fortitude of the human spirit.

On land, protagonist Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) survives a German attack and escapes to Dunkirk’s beaches, where he meets Gibson (Aneurin Barnard). Together, the two teenaged soldiers find and join the Allied troops readying for evacuation, overseen by Colonel Winnant (James D’Arcy) and the pier-master Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh).

On the sea, the British Navy requisitions private boats to aid in this mass evacuation across the English Channel. In an effort to save as many soldiers as possible, patriotic mariner Mr Dawson (Mark Rylance), his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and their young helper George (Barry Keoghan) decide to commandeer their boat into the warzone by themselves.

Flying high above them all, three Royal Air Force pilots including Farrier (Tom Hardy) and Collins (Jack Lowden) provide air support to the stranded soldiers awaiting rescue at Dunkirk.

Barely ten minutes into the film, it becomes apparent that Dunkirk favours action over words, allowing sound (Michael Mitchell) and visuals (production design: Nathan Crowley; VFX: Double Negative) to form a terrifyingly realistic atmosphere around its characters’ silence. A cacophony of thunderous bombs, zipping gunfire and screeching engines builds tension and drama without the need for dialogue, hammering in the ‘ticking clock’ that is palpable throughout the film.

While the screenplay’s decidedly sparse dialogue enables viewers to immerse themselves in the film, it is also a setback for natural character development. Although each performer – A-listers and extras alike – is believable and remarkably well-cast (John Papsidera; Toby Whale), Dunkirk’s characterization is far too simplistic to generate a satisfactory emotional response. It is this lack of humanism and Whitehead’s consistently deadpan delivery (which works for most of the film but also tears away any potential emotion in key scenes) that strips the film of soul, replacing this conventionally core component with more physical, visual elements.

Although viewers are unable to form strong enough connections with most of Dunkirk’s characters, the film’s secondary motifs are expressed with skill. On several occasions, Nolan’s screenplay effectively voices moral issues without the need for dialogue. While Whitehead’s Tommy grapples with the unspoken conflict between patriotism and integrity, Hardy and Rylance convey heart-wrenching depth and drama solely through their eyes. With the omission of heavy dialogue, every gesture, twitch and grimace carries weight, and each moment in this film feels significant and well placed.

While the film chronicles the events on Dunkirk between May 26, 1940 – June 3, 1940 in vivid detail, it does not portray the activities preceding this event. It makes no mention of Belgium or Holland, does not dwell on Winston Churchill and solemn-faced Generals in stuffy war rooms, and consciously avoids presenting German soldiers on screen. Dunkirk is a single-quest undertaking and Nolan is unapologetic in his stone-cold focus in this pursuit. Much like its approach to dialogue, this, too, serves as a double-edged sword, for while this fierce emphasis is one of Dunkirk’s greatest strengths, it also weighs down its characters as empty vessels ferrying an inflexible script across land, sea and air.

Aided by jaw-dropping cinematography (Hoyte Van Hoytema) and an exceptional score (Hans Zimmer), Dunkirk fuses sound and image to deliver what will soon be hailed as a cinematic masterclass. While Hoytema expertly weaves texture and authenticity to layer into the film’s melancholic tone, Zimmer breathes life into it with a nervous pizzicato of frayed violins, rousing synthesizers and unrelenting clock samples that will ruffle even the calmest of listeners. Handheld cameras enforce the claustrophobia of Tommy’s desperation, concentrating on real locations, planes and boats to deliver an organic experience. Wide, vibrant shots of Dunkirk’s beaches in immaculate IMAX 70mm make this film a breathtakingly immersive journey.

Excellent war films are traditionally focused on nuanced character development and their emotional journeys, its players on one side of the screen and viewers on the other. Dunkirk, on the other hand, grabs moviegoers by the eyeballs and thrusts them into a heart-pounding warzone. Its characters are mere pawns, the chessboard a perilous chasm of violence, chance, loyalty and hope.

Dunkirk is brutal, ambitious and sincere, and its auteur’s propensity for pushing the boundaries of contemporary cinema has paid off yet again. In what is sure to earn several Oscar nods, Christopher Nolan has produced a unique form of entertainment that is so remarkable it must be studied almost forensically.

True to history, Dunkirk ends with both victory and defeat, leaving viewers wholly electrified and yet vaguely unfulfilled. Nolan has turned the story of a single battle into a symphony of sensory delight with piercing, clockwork precision. It is a war story without a hint of blood or gore; a tale of suffering and belief without conversation. Nolan hones the film’s strengths into a meticulously choreographed spectacle, creating a magnificent display of horror and courage through psychological suspense and silence.

Overall, it is most certainly worth a watch, if not a riveting study in filmmaking.

-Tina Mohandas

Tina Mohandas

Tina Mohandas is a songwriter, musician, tattoo artist, vintage motorcycle collector, and animal rights activist. Currently writing her debut science fantasy novel, she is also the co-founder of the non-profit Bikerhood India initiative, and hopes one day to free every caged animal in the world.
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Lipstick Under My Burkha

LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA

“Four females, their fantasies & womankind’s freedom”

            CROP Lipstick Under My Burkha           STRIP Lipstick Under My Burkha

Story, Screenplay & Direction: Alankrita Srivastava Additional Screenplay: Suhani Kanwar Dialogues: Gazal Dhaliwal

One-Liner: Set in the crowded lanes of Bhopal, four women from 
different age groups pursue their definitions of freedom furtively.

Lipstick Under My Burkha is not a film about women’s sexual desires. It is not about their fantasies. It is about their freedom- sexual, financial, emotional. It doesn’t paint a rosy picture or promise a paradise, but that doesn’t mean it is grim, serious or heavy. On the contrary, it uses dollops of humor to drive home its point: Empowerment doesn’t come free. It’s like the color red, dangerous yet tempting, because that’s the only way out for its four repressed protagonists.

The movie begins with a narration of a girl named Rosy. You wonder if she is the burkha clad girl who is shown on the screen shopping for a perfume in a mall. But a minute later, you realize she is an 18-year-old girl named Rehana (Plabita Borthakur) who hides behind her burkha to shoplift articles.

The narration continues and we meet Shirin (Konkona Sen Sharma), another burkha clad woman, but unlike Rehana, she doesn’t steal things, but sells them. She is an expert saleswoman. She has all the tricks in the book to win over her customers, but for a woman of her substance, it is sad to learn she has to hide her profession from her utterly cold and terrifyingly frigid husband (Sushant Singh) for fear of insulting his manhood.

The narrative moves to introduce the feisty Leela (Aahana Kumra – Is it just me or anyone else also thinks she looks like Kathryn Hahn?) She is gorgeous, ambitious and totally unapologetic about her sexual flings with her photographer boyfriend Arshad (Vikrant Maasey), even as she is to be married soon with her fiancée, Manoj (Vaibhav Tatwawdi). She is a dreamer, a bird, a raging fire. She has nothing to hide; yet she has to be mindful for being who she is.

And finally, we meet the adorable Usha, more commonly known as Buaji (Ratna Pathak). A 56-year-old widow and the owner of a successful sweetshop who has her own, to use a sanitary term, biological needs. And she finds it in the taboo pages of soft erotica that only get accentuated when she meets a strapping swimming coach.

Holding their desires together is Rosy, the character from Buaji’s erotic novels, which is used as an interesting device to bring out their deepest feelings.

Now, to dissect its screenplay is to dissect its characters, and 
the process only throws a lot of questions than answers at 
the curious audience.

Characters –

Let’s begin with the youngest, Rehana. She might have been portrayed as a shoplifter in the first scene but as the story progresses, we see her as a girl who is afraid to be herself. Born to orthodox parents, she feels hesitant to express herself and finds solace in Miley Cyrus and Led Zeppelin’s songs. She aspires to be a singer in the college band, but her seniors wouldn’t have her. So what does she do? She tries to be like them. And what’s that? She becomes a part of their protests against ban on jeans and though a non-smoker, smokes with them. That’s how she gets into the fold.

Back home, she can’t even dance freely in an engagement because that irks her parents. She can’t raise her voice at them. She endures the denial of her freedom by mentally playing a Miley Cyrus tune, and dancing wildly alone in her room, suppressing her tears, her anger, herself.

She steals so that she can be modern, she smokes so that she can be a singer, she remains silent so that she can be accepted by her parents. What does she have to do to be herself?

Shirin, a mother of three and a dutiful wife, has a simple dream: Work as a saleswoman so that she can contribute to the family’s income. But is it so simple? Is it even possible when her husband sees her solely as a baby producing object who can be entered without any contraceptive at will?

Shirin is a silent victim of domestic abuse. She isn’t the ambitious kind; she isn’t the one who has big expectations from life. She has simple dreams, hopes for simple joys and pleasures, and seeks comfort in the mundane but the beautiful. She is all love. And it is this soft, delicate fabric that she is afraid to tear. She revolts towards the end, but is it impactful? Will she take a stance for herself and leave her husband? Will she tell the world, “I am free”?

Leela, the feisty Leela. She is everything that you would expect Shirin to be. And yet, is she free?

There is a scene in which she is having sex with her boyfriend on her engagement night. Her mother catches them in the act and slaps her. But she isn’t remorseful. In fact, she justifies her act as revenge for her mother forcing her to marry Manoj. Her mother isn’t angry. She simply moves over to another corner, gets a lipstick and applies it on Leela. Matter closed.

With no words spoken, it became clear that for all her big dreams, ambitions and plans to flee with her boyfriend, Leela is attached to her mother and she won’t leave her. Sure, they don’t share a typical respectful mother-daughter relationship, but the affection, though invisible, is still there.

It’s the same with Arshad. Leela thinks he is suitable for her because they are sexually compatible, but it is their love that binds them together. They go through cycles of break up and patch up only to realize in the end they love each other. But it’s too late by then. She has lost all ownership of her dignity. Plus, her mother’s dignity is under threat. She has transferred their right to live respectfully to her fiancée. What will he do with it? Will he be mature? Can he be mature? Is he really at fault? No matter what decision he takes, can we really blame him?

Leela, no doubt, is a complex character, but it is her story that forces one to see the hidden setbacks in the path of empowerment. Are we strong enough to punish the innocent to be empowered?

Buaji. She is Buaji until she is asked her name by her young swimming coach. As she writes her name on the admission form: Usha Parmar, she runs her finger on it feeling for the first time in many years her true identity. She has been long deprived of it, and this revival has also revived her biological longing. She no longer wants to delve into the erotic land of Rosy. She wants to be Rosy. She wants to have her passion respected and she goes for it.

Under the garb of a satsang, she goes to her instructor, feels the cool of the pool water and the warmth of her young hands. Her soul is revived but far from satisfied. She assumes herself as Rosy and engages in phone sex. She shivers and moans and titillates herself and in the throes of ecstasy, can’t see the impending tragedy. But when it hits, oh, can she endure it?

Questions such as these are manifold and answers none. To have given an answer would have meant a closure, but for a film that tries to be as real as the day, the non-closure is welcome.

The direction by writer-director Alankrita Srivastava is a blend of prose and poetry. Yes, there is the narration of Rosy to delve into the depths of her protagonists but that doesn’t mean she isn’t equipped with better narrative devices.

In the case of Buaji, she uses a mirror expertly to remind her of her real version before she can create the world of Rosy in her life. She sees herself and becomes conscious and finally ditches the mirror; Shirin’s angst is compounded through the innocence of her kids; Rehana finds closure in silence and dance and Leela…

There is a scene where Leela has to sell her scooter to make some money. As she leaves the scooter, she stops and turns back to look at it. Memories of her and Arshad travelling together come back and she dashes to him which, in the climax, becomes the decisive scene of her tragedy.

In the last scene of the movie, the four women, all broken and exhausted sit together. A mannequin’s head falls off from a sewing table. She has a burkha on and her lips are light red, not dark red- a poetic symbol of their faded spirits.

Speaking of red, there is almost everything red about the film. From lipsticks to nail polish to JNURM buses to disco lights to toys to Shireen’s night dress to her microwave… almost everything is red, perhaps a conscious decision on the part of cinematographer Akshay Singh to accentuate the struggles of the principal characters.

The dialogue by Gazal Dhaliwal have got some of the best lines you will hear in a long time. No, they are not witty or explosive. They are simple but make no mistake, they are sharp and piercing.

Of course, the movie isn’t without its flaws. Take Rehana’s impassioned speech, early in the movie, against ban on jeans for a news channel. Now, she is too afraid to be seen by her parents wearing jeans under the burkha. And here she is, making her voice heard with tops and jeans and even goes to the extent of ripping them, without any second thought of the possibility that she could be seen by her parents, or anyone from the neighborhood on TV.

Rehana’s shoplifting escapades are also unbelievable and the climax, though I personally liked it, seems a little contrived, given the way everyone’s truth is revealed in the same manner. In screenplay terminology, the device used is Setup-Payoff. The fact that all the setups are similar, except Shirin’s, makes you wonder if there could have been a different way to reach at the climax.

It may be a movie about 4 women, but the men too are not to be missed. Sushant Singh, Shashank Arora, Vikrant Maasey, Vaibhav Tatwawdi, Jagat Singh… though they may have less screen time and not much of a character arc, they play their parts to perfection.

Lipstick Under My Burkha takes a worm’s eye view of the closed lives of women in India. It is a film that doesn’t make any political statement, but simply urges you to be a part of a process. When none has participated in a process, how is a solution possible? And even if they do, the closure may take a long time. But nevertheless, it is a welcome breeze in the desert of Hindi films. We need a blizzard of Lipsticks…

 – Chiranjib Sahoo

Chiranjib_Profile pic
Chiranjib is a trained screenwriter from Whistling Woods International, Mumbai. He can be contacted at csahoo449@gmail.com

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Lights! Camera! Patriarchy!

Lights! Camera! Patriarchy!

Population First celebrates the 12th Anniversary of Laadli with Screenwriters Association – June 9, 2017

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The Laadli Day anniversary event was organised by Population First and Screenwriters Association at SWA premises in Andheri West, with an audience consisting of around 60 scriptwriters. The event, hosted by Ms. Veena Vinod from Population First, began with Mr. Sista, the founder and Executive Trustee of Population First explaining When, How and Why Laadli was started, “We thought about how 50% of our population is Women and we needed to do something to uplift them. Now even the National Agenda includes programmes like Beti bachao Beti Padhao, we thought of doing Laadli Media awards 12 years ago. We felt that this was the way to have a sustained conversation with the media and keep them interested. We are very glad that Laadli is now a well recognised event and has gone International this year.”

The Director of Population First, Dr. A L Sharada spoke about the fulfilling journey she has had since joining Population First 14 years ago. She acknowledged support of Ms. Dolly Thakore, Mr. Ramesh Narayan and SWA’s senior EC member Mr. Anjum Rajabali, and highlighted how SWA has been an important partner for Laadli. She opined, “There is a lot of stereotyping and reinforcement of Patriarchal tenets in Films and we wanted to create a non judgmental space to discuss it. We are often the victims of thinking in a particular way because of the social milieu we live in. One of the first steps in achieving a gender just society is making sure our communication does not reinforce social biases. A good movie can make a big difference.”

Ms. Dolly Thakore, veteran theatre actor, and National coordinator for Laadli spoke about how she joined Laadli and her long association with the cause.

Ms. Aranya Johar, an 18 year old spoken word artist, opened the event with her widely shared viral poem “Brown Girl’s Guide to Gender”.

PANEL DISCUSSION

The attraction of the evening was an interactive panel discussion centred around the main theme of the event. For this, the Screenwriters Association was represented by Ms. Anuradha Tewari who has been working for the last 18 years in the Hindi film industry and is well  known for co-writing screenplay of films like, Fashion, Jail, and Heroine; and Ms. Rajshree Ojha, director of films like Aisha and Chaurahen. Mr. Harish Iyer, equal rights activist, listed as one of the most influential LGBT persons in the world; and Dr. A L Sharada were the other two panelists. Dr. Ishmeet Nagpal, the Advocacy and Communication Manager at Population First, moderated the discussion and conducted the interactive activity. SWA’s Joint Secretary Manisha Korde and the Event sub-committee’s Co-chairperson Mr. Satyam Tripathy were also present as members of the audience. 

Video clips were played for the Panel and the audience, which contained clips from various Bollywood movies. The Panel discussion was interactive with the audience and panelists all asked to hold up cards identifying the damaging communication portrayed in the clips.

Audience and panelists identified ‘mansplaining’, ‘moral policing’, ‘sexism’, ‘slut shaming’, ‘objectification’, ‘homophobia’, ‘stalking’, ‘sexual harassment’ etc. An interesting discussion ensued where it was argued that though the aspects portrayed might have been the lived realities of the people who made these movies, it was also concluded that communicators need to look twice at their communication and feel responsible for what messages they send. While portraying realities is necessary, the way they are portrayed is equally important. The right messaging does not need to be boring and can be entertaining as well.

Audience was very interactive and asked many questions, and by the end of the discussion, were able to analyse communication from gender perspective on their own.

After the panel discussion, there was another performance by Ms. Ramya Pandyan, member of Sexonomics Band, presenting a spoken word piece called ‘My Feminism’. The poem was an important message at the end of event, and was well received by the audience.

Overall, the event challenged the perspectives of the script writers present and many of them stayed back to interact with the panelists and Population First staff.

About Population First: Population First (PF) is a communications and advocacy initiative for a balanced, planned and stable population.  SWA has been consistently associated with the gender equality agenda of Population First, conducting regular workshops and panel discussions.

(For more visit – www.populationfirst.org)

(Click here to see the photo album of the event.)

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Laadli Day

Laadli Day

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VINOD KHANNA (6th October 1946 – 27th April 2017)

Bollywood has bidden adieu to one of its most charismatic – and maverick – actors. Vinod Khanna passed away on the morning of the 27th April. He was said to have been suffering from bladder cancer, although this has not yet been substantiated by his family.

Born in Peshawar, Pakistan, his parents subsequently moved to India and he grew up between the cities of Mumbai and Delhi, along with his brother Pramod and three sisters.

Khanna had a meteoric rise to stardom. He started his film career as a villain, in Sunil Dutt’s ‘Man ka Meet’ (1968) and subsequently became a hero with ‘Hum Tum aur Woh’ (1971) He went on to become an extremely bankable star and did many films with Rajesh Khanna, Shashi Kapoor, Dharmendra and Jeetendra as co-stars. Women swooned over his tall physique, cleft chin and virile, Punjabi looks.

At the height of his success, he met and was influenced by Osho Rajneesh whom he accepted as his spiritual guru. Khanna then left the film industry to follow Rajneesh wherever, be it setting up the Osho ashram at Poona or to Oregon in America, leading the media to tag him as the ‘sexy sanyasi.’ While he was off finding his spirituality though, the physical world he left behind in the form of wife Geetanjali and sons Rahul and Akshaye started teetering under the pressure and the relationship ended in divorce. Much later, he married lawyer Kavita Daftary and had two children with her: son Sakshi and daughter Shraddha.

In 1987, Khanna suddenly became disillusioned with Osho and returned to Bombay, where Bollywood welcomed him with open arms and he was back in the saddle as hero. In 1997, he decided to join politics (BJP) and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Gurdaspur. In 2002, he became the Union Minister for Culture and Tourism and later moved to the Ministry of External Affairs as Minister of State.

Vinod Khanna’s sister’s daughter Namita was my junior in Chelsea, Simla. I remember once he came to school to meet his niece. (This was before the Osho phase, when Khanna was ruling the marquee.) Our school was a Catholic convent and we boarders were assiduously and zealously guarded by the nuns. However, on this occasion the nuns themselves were in a fair tizzy. Only the student concerned was allowed to go to the visitor’s room to meet with family, obviously, but many a time it was allowed that she take her best friend along. Suddenly, Namita found she had more “friends” than she knew! Girls were trying their best to hide behind strategically placed trees to catch a glimpse of the famous cleft chin. Team members who’d hitherto shirked basketball practice suddenly got enthusiastic about shooting a few baskets (the basketball field was below the visitors’ car park and sweeping driveway into the school, so one had to, of necessity, pass it.) Uff – the furore that was created! Many years later, I met him at the then Hilton (now Lalit) hotel in Delhi and found him to be a suave, well-spoken gentleman.

Vinod Khanna personified the quintessential Punjabi (read, north Indian) man. On screen, he symbolised the stuff rugged romance is made of…girls grew into women dreaming of just such a mate. His controversial alliance with Rajneesh only made him more desirable so far as the female population was concerned. Here was a real man who dared to do what he wanted, defying society’s fragile tenets.

 Here rests one of the original, macho males. Go in peace, sir.

  • Punam Mohandas

punam-mohandas

Punam Mohandas is a journalist and author who is also a film buff, accomplished travel writer and an expert on South Asia. She also writes columns on film personalities. She has lived and worked in India, Dubai and Bangkok.
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संध्या रियाज़ की तीन कवितायें।

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अम्मा

अम्मा के जाने के बाद

उनकी पेटी से एक थैला मिला है

जिसमे मेरे बचपन का रेला मिला है

 

एक चरखी एक लट्टू एक गुडिया मैली सी

एक नाव आड़ी टेडी लहरों में फैली सी

एक किताब जिसमे पहली बार मैंने अम्मा लिखा था

लाल रुमाल में बाँधके अम्मा ने अबतक रखा था

हाँ तीन पेन्सिल उसमें मेरी टूटी हुई भी रखीं थी

डोर जिसमे अम्मा की साड़ी की बंधी थी

 

कुछ यादें जो बिना हाथ लगाये हाथ आती गयीं

अम्मा की दस अँगुलियों की गिनती का गिनना

चुपके से अम्मा का एक सिक्का ले लेना

अम्मा का तमाचा गाल पे पड़ते पड़ते रुक जाना

लाड से उनका दुनियां भर की बातों का  बतलाना

उनका मुझे खिलाना नहलाना सुलाना जगाना

सब याद आने लगा

लगा की काश कुछ हो जाए

जाने कहाँ चली गयीं हैं मेरी अम्मा

ढूंढ के वापिस ले आयें

 

उम्र से बचपन गया और बचपना भी

लेकिन अम्मा का नाम आते ही

रोने को जी करता है

और तब उस दिन मिला हुआ ये थैला

मुझे मेरी अम्मा सा सुख देता है

 

अकेले होते ही इसे छू लेती  हूँ

मैं उनकी जागीर थी  और अम्मा मेरा खजाना

जिनका मुझ पर और मेरा उन पर ताजिंदगी हक होगा 

ये थैला मेरी अम्मा ने मुझको दिया था 

सिर्फ मेरा ही होगा………….

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एक छोटा लड़का

सड़क पर बोरा लिए

काग़ज़ बटोरता हुआ एक लड़का

अपने बचपन को छिपाने की चेष्ठा करता

अपने मन को मारे आँखों को ज़मीन टिकाता

इधर उधर ज़मीन पर नज़र दौडाता

चला जा रहा था।

 

सड़क पर सामने से आते हुए

उसके जैसे हमउम्र बच्चे

बचपन से भरे हंसते खिलखिलाते

साफ़ सुथरे उनके कपडे

और कपड़ों की जैसे  उनके साफ़ खिले चेहरे

झुण्ड में  स्कूल के लिए निकल रहे थे

 

लड़का उन्हें देख सकुचाता है

खुद को बोर के पीछे छिपाता है

और पसीने से भीगा चेहरा पोछ

आगे बढ़ जाता है

 

आगे खूबसूरत बाग़  रंग बिरंगे फूल

खिलौनों की दुकाने और दुकानों पर

अपना खिलौना चुनते बच्चे

माँ बाबा से अपना खिलौना लेने का हट कर रहे थे

 

लेकिन इस लड़के को कुछ भी नहीं दिख रहा था

या

वो देखना नहीं चाहता था

सिवाए कागज़ के टुकड़ों के

उसने कभी कोशिश भी नहीं की

कुछ भी देखने की

शायद मालूम होगा

 

चाहना और पाना दो अलग अलग बातें  हैं

अपनी उम्र से भी बड़ा बना दिया था उसे

इन् रास्तों और बिखरे हुए कागजों ने

वो जानने लगा था शायद

उसकी चाह सडकों और कागजों तक ही सीमित है

ये चलते भिरते सपने और सपनों जैसे रंग भरे

बच्चे बनना उसकी कल्पना से भी  परे  था

 

शाम होने से पहले इस बोर को कागज़ से भरता  है

बिकने पर २० रुपये कमाता है

उससे दो रोटी और एक चाय खरीद

भूखे  पेट को भर के सो जाता है

सुबह होते ही अपना बोरा लेके

फिर सड़कों पर जाता है

एक नयी आस के साथ

काश आज उसका बोरा जल्दी भर जाए

और आज रोटी खा के वो जल्दी सो जाए

 

देखेगा सपने उन सपने जैसे साफ़ साफ़ बच्चों के

जहाँ वो उनमे से एक होगा हाथ में बोरा नहीं बस्ता होगा

और बसते में माँ का दिया खाने एक डब्बा होगा

जिसमें पेटभर खाने को खाना होगा……

 

तभी एक डंडा उसकी पीठ पे पड़ता है

हबलदार उसे जगा के फुटपाथ से भगाता है

कब तक सोयेगा हीरों काम पे नहीं जाना हैं।

 

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वक़्त के मानिन्द

गुज़रते वक़्त के मानिन्द 

कतरा कतरा पिघलती ज़िन्दगी के साथ 

कुछ ख्वाहिशों को पाने की खातिर 

कुछ ग़मों को भूलने की कोशिश के साथ 

किसी अपने के हाथों को थाम 

भीड़ में कभी अकेले गुम्म हो कर भी 

अकेले अकेले चलकर सालों बिता दिए अब तक 

किस किस से किस किस की बात कहे हम

तनहा ही होते है अपने हुजूम में भी हम 
कई रातों में बहे आंसुओं ने देखा है हमें 

कई राहों ने भटकते आते जाते देखा है हमें 

दिन रात पहर दो पहर पल दो पल सब जानते है 

ज़िन्दगी आसान न थी जो जी चुके है हम 

ज़िन्दगी आसन होगी या नहीं कौन बता पायेगा 

लोग हाथों की लकीरों के नक़्शे दिखाकर रास्ता पूछते है 

कौन अपने रास्तों को लकीरों में बदलने का हुनर देगा हमें 
नज़र बदलने लगी पैर भी डगमगाने लगे 

न जाने ये रास्ते कब खतम होगे

 

जो मंजिल पे पुन्ह्चा पायेंगे हमें 

खामखाँ भागते भागते सारी जद्दोजहद के बाद भी 

हाथ खाली है छोली खाली है 

अपने भी अपने कहाँ हो पाते है 

उनकी अपनी ज़िन्दगी की बेचारगी है 
एक छोर पे  पुहुँच  चुके है अब आगे जाने का दिल नहीं 

साँसे भी दिल से खफा हो चली हैं 

लगता है कोई आया है लेने 

दर्द सारे छू होने लगे सासें परायी होने लगी 

ये सुकून कहाँ था अब तक जिसके लिए 

उम्रभर ज़िन्दगी को हम रुलाते  रहे 

अब ठीक है दुःख नहीं दर्द नहीं मंजिल नहीं राहें नहीं 

आँखे बंद होते ही सारे बवालों से बच गए 

सांस रुकते ही अनजानी थकन से बच गए 
मौत क्या इसे कहते है तो यही बेहतर है 

न हम हैं न हमारे है न दुनियाँ की झंझट है 

एक रौशनी की मानिन्द एक वक़्त की मानिन्द 

हम गुज़रते गए और शायद कुछ लम्हे ही थे वो 

जो हमें साथ ले गए और कितने जाहिल थे हम  

उम्र भर जो न साथ जाना था उसके लिए लड़ते रहे 

खैर अब सुकून हैं संन्नता है कुछ ठण्ड है रवां रवां 

कहाँ है कहाँ जाना है इसका कोई गम नहीं 

ज़िन्दगी नहीं तो हम नहीं।

 

 

  • संध्या रियाज़
Sandhya Riaz
संध्या रियाज़ कवयित्री और कहानीकार हैं। टीवी, रेडियो,पत्रिकाओं, अख़बारों इत्यादि के लिए कहानियां, कवितायें और समीक्षायें लिखती रहीं हैं।आपका पहला कविता संग्रह ‘बदलती लकीरें’ नाम से प्रकाशित हुआ।वर्तमान में, मीडिया कंपनी क्रिएटिव आई में आइडिएशन हैड के पद पर कार्यरत हैं। संपर्क -sandhya.riaz@gmail.com
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Shri Javed Akhtar is the new Chairman of revamped IPRS

Javed Akhtar

“A new chapter has started!” – Javed Akhtar

Mumbai, April 6th, 2017: Fresh elections were held after more than a decade in the revamped IPRS, in which both the authors (music composers and lyricists) and publishers (music labels) participated. These elections have the backing of the entire author and publisher community in India. Veteran poet and lyricist, Shri Javed Akhtar was unanimously elected as the Chairman of the new board.

The revamped IPRS has adopted a new working constitution and is fully in sync with the Amended Copyright Act. The primary objective of this constitution is to ensure rightful royalty flow to all the rights owner, while simplifying licensing process for the end users. 

Shri Javed Akhtar said, “IPRS has turned over a new page and a new chapter has started, where there is no WE and THEM, only US. Writers, composers and publishers have risen above the past conflicts and have a taken a pledge to work together for the enhancement of Indian Music Industry’s reach and prosperity.”

“This is a historic moment for the music industry, and will act as catalyst of growth for all stakeholders. We look forward to IPRS achieving new heights under the leadership of Javed saab” said Vikram Mehra, Managing Director, Saregama India Ltd.

The newly elected members on the board are Javed Akhtar, Shridhar Subramaniam, Aashish Rego, Kumar Taurani, Rajinder Singh Panesar, Devraj Sanyal, G.V. Prakash Kumar, Ganesh Jain, Anupam Roy, Mandar Thakur, Sahithi Cherukupalli and Vikram Mehra.

Background: The Indian Performing Right Society Ltd. (IPRS), which came into existence in 1969, is a representative body of owners of music — the composers, lyricists (or authors) and the publishers of music. It is also the sole authorised body to issue licences for usage of musical works and literary music within India by any person. IPRS represents Publishers, Authors and Composers of Music from all over India and is affiliated with similar Societies in other countries of the World to represent International Music as well.

Ever since music companies seized control of the governance of the organisation, leaving lyricists and music composers out in the cold, IPRS was seen as a society of very questionable motives, which did not work for all its members. After the Copyright Act was amended in 2012, it gave lyricists, writers and composers clear safeguards to secure and protect their rights. Thus, it was time for all that to change.

SWA congratulates all those who paved the path of the much-needed reforms at IPRS and made this historic day come true. Onwards, now!

 

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Women On Television

WomenOnTV2

For years we have been lamenting rhetorically about the quality of writing on Indian television. Our most painful grouse has been about the way women and gender-equations have been portrayed on the TV screen. Our TV serials and soaps have been termed regressive, espousing conservative values, of being totally out of sync with the way Indian women actually are in our society. And, the complaints have not been invalid.

However, it’s time we asked the question: Is no change possible, at all? As writers, what are our options? Is it not possible for our writing to become the torch-bearer of change, no matter how subversively or subtly executed, to make sure that our stories and storytelling is more in consonance with our social reality to reflect the real struggles of our characters (women and men), rather than reinforcing existing stereotypes? What are the obstacles and anxieties that we are likely to face in such an attempt? What is the creative space for negotiation available to us? How can we increase that? As writers, we are meant to be one of the thought-leaders of society. Then what are our own thoughts about the situation, and about changing the culture of stories and storytelling on television?

To delve deeper into all these questions, we cordially invite you to:

Woman On TV

It promises to be a stimulating and provocative discussion, but with a constructive objective. As writers, we have to continue to put our heads together for the future of our writing.

Expecting to see you there!

(Click here for the Facebook thread of the event.)

 

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