Suzette Jordan leaves an enormous absence, but hopefully, it’s one that we will fill with the necessary conversations about how to survive as a woman in a society that’s being struck by a backlash against women who are wriggling out from under patriarchy’s thumb. Our statistics for violence against women may not seem as bad as those of countries like America, but the levels of misinformation and victim-blaming in India are depressingly high. We need to talk about rape and harassment responsibly and sensitively, so that understanding is furthered instead of stigma.
In the cacophony surrounding violence against Indian women, we need more voices like Suzette’s. Voices that are clear, loud and unashamed. Voices that will start conversations, not fights. As long as we don’t let ourselves be gagged by fear, in our ordinariness lies our strength. Suzette Jordan taught us that.
Rest in peace.
March also saw a massive controversy erupt over India’s Daughter, a painfully mediocre documentary on the December 16 gang rape. Why the government wanted to ban it, is a mystery since the decision to do so made India look far more idiotic than the documentary itself.
Continuing the trend of politicians making Onion-worthy comments, Sadhvi Prachi urged India to boycott the Khans. I wrote this:
I’m disappointed that while lashing out at Bollywood, Sadhvi Prachi didn’t point out that there is a film out in theatres now that stars a Khurrana instead of a Khan, and is just the film that should warm all our hearts, regardless of our political leanings. Dum Laga ke Haisha could become the Hindutva brigade’s favourite film, the one to screen at annual general gatherings and at indoctrination camps.
Starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pendekar (note: good Hindu names), the film is set in the Hindu, holy city Haridwar. It has no violence, if you ignore minor details like a husband and wife slapping each other and a young man threatening to set himself on fire. Because hey, if it doesn’t have stunts and fake blood, it’s not real violence, ok? Liberals, make a kachori of emotional violence and stuff your faces with it.
The film’s hero is a young man who is deeply committed to his shakha, a gathering of men in shorts (and khaki sweaters) who meet in the morning and do PE together. If that doesn’t bring a single tear to the eyes of everyone with an RSS background, I don’t know what will. And the cherry on the cake: there’s a sub-plot in Dum Laga ke Haishaabout the hero’s aunt that is bound to make Sadhvi Prachi and gang choke up with emotion. The aunt was married as a child to a gentleman who sent her back to her family without any explanation. While she lives with her brother, hoping against hope that her husband will want her back, her husband goes on tirth-yatra (tours of pilgrimage spots). Surely this angle in Dum Laga ke Haisha will give Jashodaben Modi the warm fuzzies?
Read the whole piece here. Dum Laga ke Haisha was absolutely adorable, though I had a few niggling issues with it. That, though, is just me being nitpicky. It was a charming little film and it did well at the box office. Yay!
Jerry Seinfeld was supposed to have a show in India, but it got cancelled at the last minute. Before it got cancelled, however, I got a chance to interview him. So that was pretty interesting.
There weren’t too many releases in March since the cricket World Cup had everyone’s attention. I haven’t actually watched a single cricket match in years, but such was the cricket fever that even I ended up writing a piece on an India-Australia match. Only this one was held in Mumbai, in a film called Awwal Number.