So Ram Gopal Varma’s new short film is out, and it’s called “Meri Beti Sunny Leone Banna Chaahti Hai”. You can already tell from the title that things are going to be pretty awkward. And when the film opens with quotable quotes on choice and democracy (by George Washington and Ayn Rand, no less), it’s best to get good and comfy for what is about to unfold.
Meet Mr. and Mrs. Normal – all the sweater-vests and sari aesthetic you need, and that good ol’ North Indian middle class outrage. Their twenty-something daughter has just told them she wants to be a pornstar like Sunny Leone. And they’re not exactly gung-ho about the idea.
Enter the dragon – I mean – said twenty-something-daughter. She behaves less like she’s having a heated argument with her parents, and more like an entity composed solely of one-liners lifted from various gender studies textbooks.
Honestly though, everything she’s saying here is on point.
Yas queen, work it. Expose the control around female sexuality for what it really is.
Damn, look at her go.
Even when her incredulous father asks her “Tum randi banna chaahti ho?” she’s got more than enough steam power to give it right back.
Basically the verbal equivalent of this:
Mild props to RGV for getting the actor to look directly into the camera and address potential YouTube trolls. Not that you can shut them up, ever. Cause, like, they will come back and say stuff like:
Charming. But seriously, this daughter has an answer for everything. Trying to shame porn stars or sex workers? Let’s talk about how patriarchy basically created the demand and the economy for both. Here’s dragon daughter to the rescue with yet another sharp one-liner.
Now, what do Mr. and Mrs. Normal think of all this Simone-de-Beauvoir-Kamla-Bhasin-inspired dialogue?
Of course this is just the prelude to some actual physical assault that randomly takes place, mid-film.
I have to hand it to the daughter, though, for bouncing back with as much emotion as the fortune cookie she probably stole this wisdom from:
Alright, so domestic abuse didn’t work. Their daughter still really wants to be a porn star. And her reasoning is pretty impeccable – why shouldn’t porn or sex work be given the same respect we give to managing assistants, or housewives? After all, work is work. But, this might be asking too much of Mr. and Mrs. Normal, who have come to see the world a certain way. So, naturally, Daddy Dearest pulls out patriarchy’s big guns – shaadi.
This is followed by some more Feminism 101, but then things go from weird to unbelievable. About three-fourths of way in, the daughter suddenly drops this bomb:
Nothing sums up my reaction better than this face:
What follows is a complicated monologue that kinda scrapes the surface of massive subjects like women’s unpaid domestic care work, while utterly undoing everything the daughter has so far said about pursuing a career in porn.
And as much as I’m loath to agree with the parents in this film, I can’t help but relate to how they’re feeling in the last scene – confused AF.
Now, if you thought it ended with the parents awkwardly exchanging mental notes about how their daughter’s kind of gone off the deep end, think again. RGV ends the film with a message that could only have come from a Tumblr shitpost generator: “I sincerely believe women empowerment should have no discrimination.”
I could be wrong, but it looks like RGV intends to extend his validation towards women being sexual – after all, what would our lives be without male approval?
This 11-minute film is part of a slew of efforts at being progressive. Not unlike Karan Johar’s infamous ‘gay movie’ “Dostana”, this film is obviously attempting to start an important conversation, but just kinda flails around wildly for a bit before collapsing.
If you still insist on putting yourself through this bizarro short film, it’s streaming on YouTube. You have been warned.