Posts Tagged feminist

Punjab Nahi Jaungi – Movie Review


“Punjab Nahi Jaungi”, a beautiful film coming out of Pakistani Cinema is brilliantly directed by Nadeem Beyg. Not only the accent is lovely to listen to but the dialogues are beautiful.  Writing credits go to Khalil-ur-Rehman and Qamar.

Image result for punjab nahin jaongiSoon after Fawad Khagga (Humayun Saeed) returns home to Faisalabad after earning an MA, he plunges headlong into finding and then acquiring his “Heer”. Coincidentally, Amal (Mehwish Hayat) has also just returned to Karachi after completing her studies in London. Fawad’s mother makes the journey to welcome Amal, daughter of close family friends and instantly likes Amal and plans with her husband and father-in-law to ask for her hand for her son, Fawad.  Fawad receives Amal’s photo and instantly falls in love with her. Meanwhile his cousin Durdana (Urwa Hocane) is in love with him and unsuccessfully tries to win his love.

Here Amal rejects Fawad’s proposal as she explains to her grandmother, Bibouji that she is against feudalism.  Lest anyone imagines that this will turn into a typical feminist movie where a young woman fights the system to win her love, let me assure you that is not how the story proceeds. On the other hand it is also not a non-feminist movie. Sorry for the double negative.

Image result for punjab nahin jaongiSo you may ask, “is it a feminist movie or is it not a feminist movie”? In truth, it is a love story where a woman is stronger and smarter than any men she encounters. In fact, all women are stronger than the men around them. While there is one short moment where Amal tries to make her husband a CEO of the company she grows, she does not try to dumb down herself and no one in her immediate circles thinks any less of her. It is a story where she does not have to take on the feudal system that may seek to keep her closed behind a veil. And yet when the men in her life misbehave, they learn fast about the fury of the woman scorned.  Any attempts that are made by the family members are not to change HER but HIM. As the misbehaving man is explained that mistake is his and therefore he has to accept her decision because he can’t succeed going against her because after all.. “ महोब्बत में औरत से कोई जीता नहीं है और नफरत में औरत से कोई हारा नहीं है.”

Image result for punjab nahin jaongiWhile the message is deep and the story is poignant at times, it is also a comedy with many funny moments and fantastic dialogues, delivered at the right moments. One such dialog is about a moment of infidelity. At one point, Amal’s husband feels envious of her business success and turns to the villainess, holds her in intimate embrace and says “please help me”. It would have been the start of infidelity but it got interrupted by Amal’s entry. Amal is furious and insists that he is guilty because his intention was bad. She takes her case to her family and her husband’s family. Almost everyone rises to her defense against her husband and quotes the sentence “please help me” as evidence of the infidelity that would have happened.

Nadeem Bayg’s direction is flawless. The story of respect for women is beautifully told without over dramatization or examples of grave injustice to women.  Maywish Hayat wins over hearts with her graceful, effortless performance.

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie 4.8 .

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“Exit, Pursued by a Bear” — Play Review


“Honey, you’ve been recast”.  In “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” award winning playwright Lauren Gunderson brings to life an abuser’s worst nightmare, where the tables are turned and the victim holds the power.  In this raucous comedy dealing with a serious topic, Nan (Sara Renee Morris), a victim of domestic violence, finds a perfect opportunity to exact feminist revenge from Kyle (Max Sorg).  Most survivors of domestic abuse could identify with the plot or may even have had secret desire for revenge.

Nan says, “he is awful and I wish he were dead”.  She is getting help from her gay friend Simon (Jacob Marker) who is acting as her emotional and actual cheerleader and a stripper named Sweetheart (Laura Espino) who seems to harbor a hope for landing an acting job and finds this role very exciting.  As Nan reminisces about her life with Kyle, she reenacts scenes from their marriage, with Sweetheart playing the role of Kyle, so Kyle and the audience can see how horrible he had been to her.  This happens under Sweetheart’s direction and some clarification regarding the plot appears on the screen above the stage, from time to time.

Nan is pregnant and she sees the opportunity to not only rid herself of Kyle but work towards repopulating the world with “gentlemanly, feminist boys”.  Kyle makes feeble attempts at protest against Nan’s version of events.  In Kyle’s version, they are best friends and he occasionally loses his temper because that is what men sometimes do and he promises to fix things.  It seems Nan is getting sucked into the rhetoric and then she is pulled back by her friends who insist that she stand her ground and stick to the plan.  The plan is to leave Kyle tied to a chair, way out in a country cabin, smothered in honey, and surrounded by slabs of meat, to be pursued and consumed by a bear!

Gunderson’s “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” beautifully depicts the absurdity of violence in the context of a relationship built on assumption of deepest level of care and concern.  Possibility of redemption of the abuser and hopes of freedom by the victim, makes the relationship appear as absurd to an outsider, as the couple living it may want to give it meaningfulness and purpose.  This reality of an abusive relationship is delivered through humor and nonstop fun, where Sweetheart and Simon play a crucial role.   Hilariously funny and unabashedly overenthusiastic Laura Espino is the life of the party, the engine that drives the plan forward, when it seems to be staggering.  Director Steve Boyle has done a fabulous job in maintaining just the right tone and keeping it humorous while keeping it real, with regard to the seriousness of the subject.  

“Exit, Pursued by A Bear” will be running at City Lights Theater in San Jose, till June 14, 2015.  Don’t miss this play.  Tickets can be purchased at www.cltc.org .

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