This movie generated controversy way before its release with several extremists calling for a boycott when the female leads used ‘Hindustan’ placards to speak about the brutal Kathua rape. And from what the trailer promised, it seemed like a movie which was going to be full of expletives, fancy outfits and the drama involved in big fat Indian weddings.
The film was also criticised as being ‘feminazi’ in its approach due to the butt-slapping sequence in the song Tareefan and the portrayal of the protagonists as party animals who drink and smoke without giving a damn. However, many people missed the point that this film never promised to promote feminism or to be a flag-bearer of women’s rights in the first place. It was just a film about four girls who had been friends since school and had become more like family for each other.
In the past, we’ve had the likes of “Dil Chahta Hai” and “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” showcase the friendship between a group of men and their discussions about love, sex and life in general and how they just go off on a vacation to relax and reconnect. But the trailer of “VDW” obviously didn’t go down well with many people because girls from good families aren’t supposed to smoke, drink and say the ‘S’ word for God’s sake! How could you mock the institution of marriage or not believe in it when eventually you’re just supposed to find a guy and get ‘settled’ in life? While I am not against the idea of marriage in general, I don’t believe that it’s one of THE most important things in life without which a girl is incomplete however successful and qualified she may be.
Many of us totally related to the character of Kalindi (Kareena Kapoor Khan) who struggled with the changes brought about by the transition from a relationship to a marriage – the forming of new relationships, increased expectations and the horror of the blue background lights, heavy princess gowns and having to pass a fake smile to all random relatives you may not even know – all of which form a part of the typical grand Indian wedding. All of us have had our moms acting like Avni’s (Sonam Kapoor Ahuja) – desperately searching for a groom and chiding us when everyone from our friend’s group gets hitched and we’re nearing our 30s. Meera (Shikha Talsania), lovingly called ‘Mother Dairy’ by Sakshi, depicts how motherhood can change things and while it is one of the most beautiful things a woman can experience, it also comes at the cost of a lot of pain during labour and a deterioration in one’s sex life. Meera is all of us when we look at ourselves in the mirror and curse our body fat while on the other hand we just gorge on fried snacks not giving a fuck about what others think. By wearing that red swimsuit in Phuket, Meera proved that she was completely in love with herself and she would not let society’s idea of beauty define her.
Sakshi shows us the consequences of hastily getting married to a person you are incompatible with and that sometimes telling your parents the truth is the best thing you can do. Our parents too were young once and were wrong too at some point in their lives. They may not react as badly as you think. Kalindi’s final act of forgiving her father and accepting her step-mother make us realise that while we may resent our parents for the mistakes they made, ultimately they are also human and can be wrong at times. They still love you and want only the best for you. Even during the narration, Kalindi’s mother spoke about how parents often try to cover up their mistakes to make sure that their children don’t repeat them but fail to realise that children need to make their own mistakes in order to learn and grow as individuals. Avni may have had problems with her mother’s nagging but eventually, she laughs about the fact that at the end of the day they are family and they show their love by pulling each other’s legs and making snarky remarks. By turning up at the wedding, Meera’s bade papa showed that parents do have a soft spot for their kids and will forgive you with time and learn to accept your choices.
Sakshi’s epic ‘sanu ki’ reply to the annoying auntyjis defined a new level of savage which we all secretly wish to achieve everytime our nosy neighbours and relatives try to make snide remarks about our choices. While drowning yourself in alcohol for every occasion whether happy or sad is not something I would recommend (whether you’re a guy or a girl), she was totally badass and not ashamed about owning up to her lifestyle. Instead of being a hypocrite, she flaunted gaudy outfits, a tattoo on her neck and mouthed expletives at the drop of a hat. While this is not the picture of every independent woman, it shows how one should embrace oneself and not be ashamed of standing out.
The characters were also layered instead of the one-dimensioned heroines we usually get to see. Kalindi’s fear of tying the knot was totally justified due to her parents’ failed marriage and the flashy wedding organised by her fiance’s parents. While she was stubborn and obsessive while taking decisions and unfairly blamed her friends for her choices, she finally found the strength to let go of bitter feelings and reverse her hasty decision of running back to Australia. Avni showcases the struggle of a career-oriented woman who does dream of starting a family and decides to go for an arranged marriage when she fails to find love only to be disappointed again, eventually falling for somebody who is a polar opposite.
“VDW” is an entire package – it is an entertainer which shows how friends are there for each other during hard times and can offer moral support and insightful discussions on ‘charam sukh’ and that life is too short to overthink and one should enjoy it to the fullest by not letting other’s opinions get into one’s way of happiness. Swara Bhaskar’s much talked about masturbation scene shows us that we are ultimately in charge of our own happiness and we should not depend on others for it. While the movie may showcase a rich and lavish lifestyle, it talks about experiences which are universal to almost all of us and proves that women can be friends for life.