Angry Indian Goddesses – India’s first female buddy film

Neeru - Pan Nalin

By Neeru Saluja

Move on men. Women power is back. Finally, Bollywood has its own female buddy film. Seven powerful and beautiful women have taken the form of ‘angry goddesses’ in director Pan Nalin’s latest film ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’.

After winning accolades in the Toronto International Film Festival and the Rome Film Festival, the goddesses are finally home with the Indian premiere happening at the Mumbai film festival. Slated for a Diwali release, the film stars actresses Sandhya Mridul, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sarah-Jane Dias, Anushka Manchanda, Amrit Maghera, Rajshri Deshpande and Pavleen Gujral playing lead roles with Adil Hussain.

The movie plot revolves around a group of girls (aka the angry Indian goddesses) who head to Goa for a surprise announcement.Director Pan Nalin is best known for his award winning ‘Samsara’ and ‘Valley of Flowers’ but the ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ will be his debut into mainstream cinema.

Excited about his new venture, Nalin talked to TIDU at length about his goddesses and the making of the film.

‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ – how did you come up with the title of the film?

The title was born when we started researching on the film two years ago. We talked to women in big towns, cities, small villages, colleges, offices and all of them had a common expression. They were angry, furious and upset, all because of the existing problems in India. Certain comments were made by Indian celebrities that it’s time that women should take their form of the Indian goddess Kali. That’s how the title came out ‘The Angry Indian Goddesses’.

The Indian distributors loved the title. All we wanted to do was talk about friendship. It’s an entertaining film and quite inspiring. We didn’t want to be preachy about addressing female issues.

Neeru Saluja - Pan Nalin - Angry Indian Godesses

A male director working with seven women for three months! How would you define the experience?

I was warned by my friends that I will die if I had to work with seven women! I was told who was going to manage their hair, their make-up, their bitchiness and jealousy? I knew from the start that I had to manage this film in a different way as the casting director, myself and the producer were all men. We auditioned 200 candidates and then conducted a ‘how not to act’ workshop. We got the actors to share their own experiences and then work on their characters. We got a lot of action out of this workshop and finally selected seven goddesses.

And then how did you work with them to give each character their own shape?

We took the actors to the depth of their characters and told each of the actresses to prepare their own character as if it is their own life. The girls helped each other a lot in the film and worked together as a team. We didn’t want them to do a male role in a female body or to portray a sexy image; all we wanted them was to make their characters look attractive.

In the male dominating Bollywood, was it difficult to finance a film with strong female protagonists taking the lead?

Definitely! This concept has been playing on my mind since seven years but all I’ve been hearing is that women don’t open a film and women don’t make the film sell. I couldn’t get any producer to finance the film.

Then Queen happened and it got a lot of success. We have male buddy films like ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and ‘3 Idiots’ but we don’t have a film with women. There was ‘Umrao Jaan’ but then there has been too long a gap. And if there were any female oriented films, either the females were from rural India or NRI posh girls. There were no true real life characters. The time had come for us to run parallel with Hollywood.

The film deals with a lot of female issues and can spark fury. What would you want your audience to take back from the film?

I want the audience to identify themselves with one of the seven goddesses. It’s not a male bashing film; it’s a female buddy film. It is beautiful yet an inspiring film for women. And besides the Goddesses, we do have a few male actors like Adil Hussain who are equally brilliant. Be it India or overseas, any woman will be able to celebrate womanhood with this film. The film aims to provide an insight into modern society, women and their aspirations, hopes and fears through the tales of these “Indian Goddesses.”

 

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