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[Y]Watch: Movie Review – ‘Calendar Girls’, Bhandarkar Does It Again, Again, And Yet Again

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By Ishan Marvel

Arvind Kejriwal and Madhur Bhandarkar would make good friends. The ye-sab-bhrasht-hain (everyone is corrupt) syndrome unites them. So yes, yet another movie from Bhandarkar telling us about ambitious young women and their encounters with the big, bad world of entertainment and power—and about all the fun that rich people are having, and how fucked up it actually is. But well, times have changed, and mores are changing—and we no longer care, we want to have fun too! And on that note, the film is dull. After a while, you couldn’t care less how the five parallel stories of the Calendar Girls turn out, and how Bhandarkar will tie them up in the end.

For the record, he does it with his trademark sense of ambiguous justice: where two of the lead characters accept their role in the system under twisted situations, another gets lucky and gets what she wanted. After all, they keep saying “ye ladki toh aage tak jaayegi” (this girl will go far) about her throughout the film, which at first, you assume to be over-enthusiastic foreshadowing of a sinister fate—but no, thank Bhandarkar for not putting us through another rape scene like the awkward and unnecessary sex ones. Only one calendar girl, the ‘prettiest’ one, meets a somewhat happy ending, working as a “serious journalist” on television and married to her boss. The last girl dies. As for the plot twists, most were either predictable or cringe-worthy.

The actual calendar-shooting process was depicted through a montage of about five minutes after a round of fake, happy “Cheers!” beside a hotel swimming pool. The song ended along with the shoot, celebrated by a champagne money-shot on the camera lens. There’s also a lot of air-kissing and hugging throughout the film. And as a PR executive sums up the ‘glamour world’: “Party karogi nahi, toh dikhogi nahi—fir ye khoobsurat chehra kaise bikega?” (If you don’t party, you won’t be visible – then how will this pretty face sell?)

The parting shot showed a copy of the calendar being taken down from a restaurant wall and replaced with a new one, with five new girls. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity—and it goes on, just like Bhandarkar. He even appears in the movie as himself; and to be fair, he was a better actor than most of the secondary characters. The lead actors are not terrible—in fact, a couple of them were quite good. Although with the one who played the Rohtak girl, it was difficult to tell whether she was actually bad, or just playing the part.

Special mentions: Mita Vashisht, one of those women who always make their presence felt; and Rohit Roy (disgrace to his talented elder brother, Ronit) for providing a good example of what forced acting means—even Suhel Seth fared better. As for the boilerplate disclaimer regarding coincidental resemblances—well, among others, you’ll find Vijay Mallya, N. Srinivasan, Lalit Modi, S. Sreesanth, Veena Mallik, and references to Big Boss.

And of course, for a movie called Calendar Girls, there have to be bass-thumping songs to which the girls can gyrate in tight and short-cut clothes at various locales, with revolving camera angles and the works. ‘We Will Rock The World’ and ‘Let’s Do The Thumka On The Shaadi-Wali Night‘ were two such songs. There’s also a lot of ‘slut-shaming’; and in passing, a stereotypical gay designer, and a token blonde Russian model called Olga.

Then, another Bhandarkar trademark: a plaintive song with wistful lyrics that keeps running in the background during appropriate (or at times, not-so-appropriate) times (think ‘Kitne Ajeeb‘ from Page 3): ‘Ye Kahaan Le Aayi Khwahishein‘.

There is no doubt regarding Bhandarkar’s abilities as a director, like with Ram Gopal Verma (‘Satya’, ‘Company’—enough said). However, people must adapt, especially with a mass-oriented medium such as film. And it’s not as if there’s a paucity of issues in our country for a good filmmaker to pursue. Please, let’s get over the 90s.

meter review 2

You must be to comment.
  1. G.L.

    It is sad that these girls have exposed themselves so shamelessly to the whole world, for money, fame, and success. They have little acting skills, and I wonder how their families feel looking at them without clothes.

  2. Nitin

    Movie Review :: Calendar Girls – A New Low Of Madhur’s career
    The movie does not have any flow or rhythm; it just stumbles from one scene to another
    ‪#‎moviereview‬ ‪#‎calendargirls‬ ‪#‎review‬ ‪#‎movies‬

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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