Saturday, November 01, 2014

Super Nani 

Granny Diaries

Sometimes the well-meaning ones are the most toxic. Like all the protectors of womankind who say jeans and mobile phones invite rape. So Indra Kumar says men must respect women, but only if they make sacrifices to appease a horrid family.

Based on a Gujarati play called Ba Ae Maari Boundary, written by Imtiaz Patel, Super Nani is a loud eighties style melodrama that would have been outdated in 1950. Even back then women had a spine, and would at least protest ill treatment by their husbands and children; Mrs Bharti Bhatia (Rekha) seems to revel in it.

She is educated, accomplished, beautiful and well-dressed, so why does she behave like an idiot? After being married to a man (Randhir Kapoor in permanent holler mode) for 40 years (so they inform us), doesn’t she know that he prefers to be served water on a tray? Hasn’t she figured out that her son does not like oily parathas for breakfast?  How did two of her three kids get to be so ill-bred if she was such a good mother? Why does her husband treat her so badly and why has she put up with this humiliation for 40 years? Her faithful maid has more spunk than she does.

To begin with, there is no sympathy for a doormat like Bharti.  Her grandson Mann (Sharman Joshi—made to speak funny Hindi) arrives from the US, with his Indian values on high alert, and becomes his Nani’s ally, along with a neighbour (Shweta Kumar—the filmmaker’s daughter).  He decides that to get respect from her family, she must become a model. So first he takes pictures of her in weird filmi poses, over-dressed and over- made up (it hurts to look at that thick red lipstick) and then gets a silly-looking adman (Anupam Kher) to fashion a  successful career for her.  While it is not impossible for a 60-year-old woman to become a model, she would hardly be endorsing glamorous saris and jewellery, unless she were Rekha!
Her nasty daughter, son and daughter-in-law are specimens from some ancient nautanki. The newly empowered Bharti straightens out her family, but still acts coy around the creepy husband. What kills all pretentions of being pro-female is Indra Kumar having her touch the husband’s feet in the end. The best compliment he can pay her?  That she was a good wife and mother even when her family trampled all over her. The hallmark of true Bhartiya Nari—tolerance for endless suffering.

Indra Kumar doesn’t know the meaning of subtlety—all his films were shrill, this one turns up the decibel level even more. The result is a headache-inducing film that Rekha did not deserve!


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