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[Y]Watch: Mockingjay Part 2 – A Sorry Farewell To The Hunger Games

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By Ankita Mukhopadhyay

The-Hunger-Games-Mockingjay part 2-poster-previewMockingjay Part 2, the final instalment of the Hunger Games series, marks the end of an era. So I was obviously excited when I went to watch the film. I went in expecting a lot. For the uninitiated, the Hunger Games is a widely popular movie series, based on the even more popular book series, written by American author Suzanne Collins. The story is based in a fictional land of Panem, where the Capitol rules over 12 other districts, which are reeling in poverty. Many years ago, the districts had rebelled against the Capitol, but the rebellion was crushed, after which, a televised game, The Hunger Games used to be organized every year where two people from each district participated in a deadly game of survival.

What made this movie even more special for me is the fact that it is Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last movie. He passed away last year due to drug abuse while still filming Mockingjay 2.

Part 2 begins where the first part left off, with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) returning to the underground District 13, where the lead protagonist, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers that President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has tortured and brainwashed him against her. Katniss finds it difficult to bear Peeta’s condition and vows revenge against Snow. She sets out on a mission to kill him. However, President Coin (Julianne Moore) has other plans and wants to keep Katniss away from the main arena of the fight. Both Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) are in love with Katniss, and the side-plot of who Katniss loves keeps running throughout this film too, and isn’t revealed till the very end.

And the first half further increased my expectations, it brought forth Katniss Everdeen as the leader all of were looking for. Her personality and character mobilised masses, not only in the film but also outside. What works for the movie is the superb acting of Jennifer Lawrence, Juliane Moore, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, and the strong supporting cast. But my happiness was short-lived, because the film, on the whole, is a huge disappointment.

Unlike the other films in the series, this movie didn’t have many fight sequences, and the ones which were there were disappointing. Even though the districts were supposed to be in ‘war’ with the Capitol throughout, one hardly got to any of it. Katniss Everdeen is famed for her archery skills, but the director of the film seems to have forgotten about that throughout most of the film. Apart from one sequence in a tunnel, the film kept losing its pace throughout.

What always defined the Hunger Games series for me was that element of suspense, of fear that Katniss experienced at every step. In the Hunger Games, you never know what to expect next. Somewhere down the line, the director and scriptwriter seemed to be at odds with each other in bringing out Katniss’s connect with the audience, something that was present in the previous films. Midway into the movie, I stopped feeling her emotions, her love for Peeta, her fear for the safety of others. Even Jennifer Lawrence’s performance couldn’t bridge this gap for me.

Mockingjay 2 also moved away from its original plot focus, which is a classic critique of the oppressive state is mired in capitalist success, oppression and starvation. The characters instead kept debating the moral debate of what’s right in love and war, and it became a tedious debate towards the end. We all know what Katniss is fighting for, putting in different perspectives to it just confused the viewer more.

Even the character build ups needed explanation, which weren’t provided in the final movie. Gale’s character makes a sudden leap towards the end, completely in contrast to his actual character from the previous films. President Coin’s (Julianne Moore), the incumbent leader of District 13 has grey shades in this movie, which clearly weren’t visible. It seemed as if Julianne Moore, through her brilliant acting was shielding the character’s grey shades, or was the script forcing her to do so?

Philip-Seymour-Hoffman-Not-Digitally-Recreated-in-MockingjayHoffman died before filming the last scene of the film, and an extra scene was inserted to explain his absence. I felt that the explanation for his absence at the end was the lamest method to be ever used on celluloid. I think the maker’s forgot to look up the last scene of Dark Knight, where the makers brilliantly showed Heath Ledger’s death. That’s how one explains the absence of a central character in a movie, something in which the Mockingjay makers clearly failed for me.

Overall, just two sequences of the film sent chills down my spine, because one didn’t know what to expect at that turn, and which character would lose his/her life. The brilliance of the previous movies sparked in these two sequences, then fizzled out.

What annoyed me the most was that the climax of the film was hurried, and before I could blink, the ‘war’ was over and Katniss was being led to Snow’s mansion. Where was the resolve? As a fan of the series, I expected to see the culmination of what the heroine set out to do – but the climax was denied to Katniss. I always believed that the Hunger Games is a refreshing change for women in cinema, and taking the biggest climax scene away from Katniss was a huge disappointment for me.

If someone is looking to revisit their favourite characters from the Hunger Games on celluloid for the last time, without any expectations, then they should definitely go for the movie. But those who are expecting the movie to meet a standard, should probably avoid watching it. It wouldn’t be the worst thing if someone decides to remake this movie into something better in the future.

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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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