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Revisiting Veere Di Wedding: Why I Disapprove Of This Gynocentric Chick Flick

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Up until a few months ago, nobody would have been happier at the prospect of a gynocentric film being made in Bollywood than me. The film ‘Veere di wedding’ released about two months ago, on the 1st of June. The filmmakers chose to market this film as a feminist venture, which was released across 2177 screens and ended up becoming a commercial success.

At that time, I did not get a chance to watch the film, but I decided to watch it a few days ago. While the film has gained a lot of popularity among the audiences, I did not find it worthy of the accolades it has received. Veere di wedding is an old wine wrapped in a new bottle. I had sensed the catastrophe when the trailer was first dropped and later when the promotional music video was released which confirmed my suspicion. The promotional music video looked like a shampoo commercial to me.

We have a movie that is based on the idea of camaraderie and companionship among four women. But this movie seems to be a mockery of the grand wedding traditions in India and tries to address some of the problems in the lives of women, through its characters. As the film opens, we’re introduced to four of its characters, Avni (Sonam Kapoor), Kalindi Puri (Kareena Kapoor), Shikha (Swara Bhaskar) and Meera (Shikha Talsania).

Avni(Sonam Kapoor), is an overachieving, ambitious character, who wants to have the cake and eat it too. She is a divorce lawyer and is trying to find a match for herself before she turns thirty. After several failed attempts, she decides to settle for an arranged marriage with a guy of her mother’s choice. Even after being an affluent professional, somehow she feels like a failure for not adhering to the norms of success set for a woman in our society- getting married and embracing motherhood.

Naturally, we also have a designated fat friend in the group, who has put on an extra layer of fat because of ‘pregnancy’. The problem of weight gain otherwise, is not acceptable to the Bollywood standards or our society’s for that matter. She is depicted as a happily married woman with a kid. Swara Bhaskar portrays a character with a problem of drinking and drug addiction, who is going through a divorce with her husband who is a douchebag. She nails the role, her character wears a face of perennial sass for the entire duration of the film.

Finally, the ‘veere’, Kalindi Puri, played by Kareena Kapoor, says yes to a marriage she’s obviously not ready for. This character reminds us of Kabir Dewan (Abhay Deol) from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. But, since she’s a girl and her having commitment issues is not acceptable to an Indian audience, she’s given a history to justify this. The film showcases that her problems with marriage just exist in her head, emanated from a failed marriage between her parents. Kareena Kapoor as Kalindi Puri fails to impress overall.

The director has funny ideas of female empowerment. Shashanka Ghosh, who also made the Sonam Kapoor starrer Khoobsurat, has successfully made a female-centric film, but instead of treating women as people, he objectifies them like any other Bollywood film. He has given us a ‘women-centric’ film that caters to all the notions of patriarchy. The women are shown drinking, butt-slapping, visiting strip-clubs and addressing each other as ‘bros’ basically, they are playing a typical male character from Bollywood.

All of this makes the movie nothing but a male’s take on the lives of women. The promo song has these women dancing around in skimpy outfits, like many famous pop-music videos, lip-syncing to the misogynistic lyrics of a male rapper. All clearly done to attract the male audience to the theatre. The filmmakers continue to stick with the stereotypical ‘women-centric cinema’ in India which cannot work without opulent sets and glamorous women. Also, the fact that this movie revolves around the idea of marriage, it is obviously seen as a safe arena for women.

Another problem with this movie is that it trivializes the actual issues in women’s daily lives. None of these women has a white-collar job, except for Avni, which also makes up a sub-plot of the film. It addresses some superfluous problems only to hide behind them. The women are shown drinking, smoking and cruising through life with their petty problems. What started off as maybe a mockery of traditions ends up being a mockery of the lives of these women. The film tries to convey that women have ‘made-up’ troubles in their lives because they don’t have to deal with real-life situations, like being ‘bread-winners’ for instance.

People like to believe such women exist, but I have hardly encountered one in my life. They definitely don’t live among us. This movie may seem like a harmless effort but, a movie like this could have an irrevocable effect on the minds of audiences across the country. Maybe the idea was to make a comedy film, but I don’t understand the director’s sense of humour. The movie is a satire on the ‘big fat Indian weddings’ and the old traditions that Indians hold adhere to and spend crores on them; only for these marriages to end up in separation.

Shashanka Ghosh went overboard with the whole concept, exactly like people who go overboard with their wedding ceremonies. The women did a great job of doing what people usually believe women do best – looking beautiful and not crossing any boundaries. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and we shouldn’t either. While this film on the outside, can look promising, it is the same old typical Bollywood film.

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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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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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