The film is populated with our everyday misogynists without any meaningful criticism levied at any of them: the casually verbally-abusive and tharki neighborhood boys, the misogynist-stud Neel who takes non-consensual photographs and publicly broadcasts intimate liaisons, the friend-of-the-husband who thinks women ought to be trained and our very own protagonist nice-guy who’s the quintessential incel with his ranting about ordinary nice boys going unnoticed and his barely concealed scary, violent rage.
Ghaywan’s film Geeli Pucchi catches you off-guard as you emerge, a little disoriented, from the first two films in this anthology, making it a little difficult to comment on it in isolation, with any amount of objectivity or distance, and it stands out particularly starkly in this otherwise abominable line-up.
The film begins several interesting strands of thought/critique without ever fully exploring them or seeing them through. It’s well intentioned but unclear, packing in too much without adequately exploring or explaining anything.
A critique of something doesn’t imply that the thing in question is complete garbage (although it sometimes is), but that there are things the piece does wrong that it could do better, which it won’t do better unless one points it out and holds it to a higher standard.
Plenty has been said about the references the film makes, its cinematography and production design and it's wonderful actors, and I’m not disputing any of these things. My contention remains with the content of the film and the claims it, or others, have made that it might be “feminist” or cover several “gender issues”.
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The bois locker room was made possible by a culture that routinely objectifies women (as passing comments, as casual banter, as entertainment or even humour) and roots masculinity in dangerous narratives of dominance and an insatiable sexual desire, among other things.
The film does nothing to challenge patriarchal norms but rather neatly works within them, and that’s one of the reasons for the film’s success. It doesn’t require us to look within and change anything, but it reinforces already held beliefs and, at most, asks for minor readjustments to allow the audience to applaud their ability to learn and revel in their liberal and progressive world-views. We’ve learnt so much. Let’s not slap the good self-sacrificing woman, shall we?
Growing up, my ideas about friendship were formed as a result of watching endless reruns of the sitcom Friends, and my ideas of love and romance came from Shahrukh’s various onscreen avatars.