Monday, September 29, 2014

QUEEN: News of the World

Kangana Ranaut is so positively adorable as Rani Mehra, the title character in Vikas Bahl's Queen, that I'm willing to overlook the film's imperfections. I've seen her before without being wowed (in Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, as a Bollywood starlet involved with a noble gangster; in Tanu Weds Manu, as a girl so wacky and high-spirited that R. Madhavan falls for her while she's unconscious; and in Double Dhamaal, ugh ugh ugh). However, in Queen she inhabits the part of the sheltered apple of her family's eye with enormous charm and gusto. Queen follows Rani's rollercoaster emotional journey from happiness to heartbreak and back, from India to Europe and back, without turning our heroine into a cliché

Would that the same could be said for everyone she meets—but oh, well; let's give credit where it's due: the film's time in Delhi is well spent, and it's a pleasure to meet not just Rani but all the people at home who have made her the gentle soul she is and the strong woman she becomes over the course of the film.

Amit Trivedi scores, in both senses. The first song, just minutes into the film, plunges us into the kind of prenuptial song and dance that would be the climactic number in a more conventional Bollywood narrative. The bride-to-be (Kangana) and her people all dance to filmi songs! Everyone sings vaguely naughty lyrics! Everyone is so, so, so happy!

It's a great song, and a great setup for the quick descent that follows. The bridegroom, Vijay (Rajkummar Rao, once again playing cute-but-weak—I'm still waiting for a role in which I find him likable), asks Rani to meet him at a coffee shop. He has just returned from London and seems as full of pompous notions as SRK was at the beginning of the splashy 2002 Devdas—but Vijay's impulse isn't to woo his old flame by wearing a monocle and English suit; it's to tell his fiancée that he can't marry her because he has become a man of the world, and she's still just a simple, traditional girl.

I can't recall a more dramatic change of mood, from raucous to heartbroken, in the first fifteen minutes of a film, and Amit Trivedi is more than up to the task. The spare, heartbreaking second song plays as the stricken Rani shares an autorickshaw ride home from the coffee shop with her little brother, who wants to help but can't. The would-be bride runs into her house (where everyone has already heard the news) and locks herself in her room.

Both song sequences are smashing--great music and great visuals that work together to make something even more powerful than either one alone. Come to think of it, that pretty much defines what I love about Bollywood at its best.

As Rani remains in her room, a montage of her memories takes us through the surprisingly sweet courtship leading up to the happy engagement party at the beginning. We learn how doggedly Vijay pursued Rani and why she fell for him. Even though we're already quite prepared to see Vijay as a louse, this flashback instead makes us see him as Rani has seen him, and it ensures that we share her shock and bewilderment.

Rani then decides to use her honeymoon ticket to travel to Europe alone. Why shouldn't she see Paris and Amsterdam? Her grandmother sagely agrees with the plan. Her parents are worried about her safety if she goes, but more worried about her misery if she stays. And so, off Rani goes to see what this seeing-the-world is all about.

The film from this point is still charming and funny in parts, but unfortunately, Rani's family at home are far more interesting than the people she meets abroad. In Paris, there's Vijaylakshmi (Lisa Haydon), a brash half-Indian hotel maid, whose small child serves mostly as a cute prop and never gets in the way of his mother's job, romances, or partying. She's a familiar type—a movie babe who looks like a model, wears club clothes to go for a stroll, and boasts of her no-strings-attached attitude about sex. There doesn't seem to be much depth below these surface characteristics, which are nevertheless supposed to persuade us that Vijaylakshmi is the very model of a modern major feminist and that, therefore, a brief exposure to her midriff-baring tops and short shorts will persuade buttoned-down heroine Rani to loosen up and enjoy life already. You can safely go get a cold drink during the scenes in which the obligatory loosening-up happens: shopping for skimpy clothes = Freedom, alcohol is mistakenly ingested (oops!), dancing on the bar ensues. Rani and the maid become fast friends, the way people do in interludes like this.

Maybe I shouldn't be too hard on the screenwriter for constructing this female character out of plywood; the Euro-boys Rani meets are equally two-dimensional. When the newly loosened-up Rani stays at a youth hostel in Amsterdam, she meets cheerful, understanding boys from Russia, Japan, and France who also want her to enjoy life already. While wandering about with them, Rani stumbles across a handsome Italian restaurant owner and argues with him about seasonings. You won't be surprised to learn that Rani ends up cooking Indian food and selling it on the street and that everyone loves it. Or that she kisses the Italian guy and makes him swoon.

However, the film does do some things right, and most of them have to do with taking the time to develop Rani's character*. Rani doesn't cure the Russian of his tendency to drink too much; she doesn't assuage the grief of her Japanese friend, who is mourning his parents' death; and she doesn't fall for the boringly hunky Italian. Even when she does come out of her shell, the movie doesn't require her to display her newfound confidence by trading her salwar kameez for Daisy Dukes and plunging necklines. And best of all, even though dopey Vijay realizes what a mistake he's made and begs her to marry him after all, she doesn't do it (hooray!!!).

The saggy middle of the film might have been a real disappointment if it weren't such a treat to watch Kangana Ranaut in every scene, listening intently and puzzling out how to behave while surrounded by stereotypically free-thinking Europeans. She does an amazing job of letting Rani's smarts, strength, and humor peep through, even when she's facing humiliations large and small. At the end of the film, Rani is back in Delhi, wiser and happier for her adventure, fully aware of what she wants and doesn't want from life. Here, for once, is a character I'd follow to a sequel.

(But next time I'd like both an interesting heroine and interesting sidekicks. Well, baby steps....)

*Kangana Rangaut gets a screen credit for Rani's dialogues.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SAAGAR: An Ocean of Cheese

Rishi Kapoor and Kamal Hassan shake hands; Dimple Kapadia's face fills the background
A couple of years ago, while putting together a retrospective to show Americans the glories of Hindi film, Mike Enright and I tried to come up with a great film from every decade of the first century of Indian movies.

It was going fine until we hit the 1980s and stalled. Yes, of course, we've enjoyed some 1980s films--but generally we have enjoyed them ironically. Could we in good conscience recommend any of them to someone else? So many films of the decade seem to feature predictable plots, cardboard characters, and over-the-top acting, all smothered in cheese.

All of these generalizations are more or less true of 1985's Saagar ("Ocean"), which marked the return of Dimple Kapadia to filmidom after her 12-year marriage to superstar Rajesh Khanna foundered. (She was all of 28 when she made this film, having gotten married right after she made a splash as the bikini-teen heroine of Raj Kapoor's Bobby.)

Saagar was India's submission for that year's foreign-film Oscar, a category in which Indian films have traditionally not done very well. Oscar likes India's films about villagers who suffer nobly (Mother India, Lagaan) but so far not much else.

Inevitably, Saagar didn't make the final Oscar cut. You can imagine the nominating committee's members watching with a condescending smile and saying to each other, "This was the greatest film from India this year?" And indeed, Saagar encapsulates much of what strikes sophisticated viewers as embarrassing about Bollywood: greeting-card sunsets as the backdrop for pining lovers, sneering villains doing evil just because, star-crossed romantics chewing the scenery with big soulful eyes. This film's claim to lasting fame, apparently, is its titillating slow-mo shots of Dimple swimming (and dropping her towel afterward--this viewer saw nothing R-rated in a rental DVD, but maybe I blinked at the wrong moment, since plenty of Googlers have more fevered memories of the scene).

Yet I do think Saagar has something going for it, not least because of the fact that it's directed by Ramesh Sippy of Sholay fame. I think we can all agree that the man knows how to put together a masala entertainer. Subtlety, schmubtlety! When Ramesh Sippy's in charge, the film plays to the balcony, and the audience gets to go along for the ride.

As the title suggests, the story begins at sea, with good-hearted orphan Raja (Kamal Hassan), a poor but happy fisherman. He enjoys playing practical jokes, usually trying to convince his childhood friend Mona (Dimple) that he's been fatally injured. She's the high-spirited and poor but responsible daughter of a bar owner (Saeed Jaffrey). We're in Goa and she's Christian, which, as I understand it, makes the whole bar thing not only perfectly fine but pretty much a tradition.

Along comes another good-hearted orphan, Ravi (Rishi Kapoor), the rich grandson of a sour-faced businesswoman (Madhur Jaffrey). He has returned from abroad, where he's presumably been shopping for leisure wear, to learn the family business. He has fond memories of his deceased parents, but Granny's face gets even sourer whenever she remembers that non-rich girl her son ran off and married.

These three good-hearted young people of course form a triangle. Rishi loves Dimple and sees Kamal as a brother; Dimple loves Rishi and sees Kamal as a brother; and poor bro-zoned Kamal loves Dimple and sees Rishi as a brother. True Love between Rishi and Dimple (un-spoiler, because Bobby) crashes into True Friendship™, allowing the boys to compete to see who can be more self-sacrificing while entirely ignoring what the girl's heart wants (un-spoiler, because Bollywood in the 1980s).  

The girl, though good at heart and a helpful daughter, unwittingly reveals sexy sexiness at every turn (un-spoiler, because DIMPLE).
Dimple Kapadia after a swim in Saagar
Don't hate Dimple because she's sexy.
Granny's haveli festers with scheming, villainy, greed, and self-confessed sycophants.

After all I'm your sycophant, sir, so naturally I'll feel bad.
I love this subtitle. 
The fishing village seems pleasant enough, but scratch the surface and the place seethes with resentment. The girl's father is beaten by goons in Rishi's granny's employ. The villagers rage at Rishi for this, but they rage even more at Dimple for daring to cross class lines--and apparently for being so damnably sexy, a crime of which young women all over the world are still being accused all these decades later.

Well, you don't have to be a Bollywood Genius to be several steps ahead of the screenplay on this one. The love triangle alone guarantees that people will be wailing NAHIIIIIIIIN! near the end.

I'm making Saagar sound terribly silly--and it is indeed a very silly film. Do I believe in my heart of hearts that the Oscar voters overlooked a classic, blinded by their own anti-Bollywood snobbishness? No, I don't. spite of its flaws and its undeniable cheese factor, there is real emotion in this movie, and it is a whizbang entertainer.

Obviously, Sippy knows his whizbang entertainment and isn't afraid of emotion. Who didn't weep when Jai died in Veeru's arms? Saagar, like Sholay, flaunts its commitment to male bonding and masala, and too much of either one is perfectly OK with me.

It's true that Sippy has less to work with here--no speeding-train dacoity, no Gabbar Singh, no slaughtered innocents. He also has no Amitabh and Dharmendra; nevertheless, the leads in Saagar are still in (over-
the-) top form. Rishi and Dimple have undeniable chemistry, as they did in Bobby. For that matter, so do Rishi and Kamal.

All three stars embrace the cliches they've been asked to enact, convincingly gung-ho in their effort to Do the Right Thing--Bollywood pan-Indian version--and improve a situation in which someone has to end up unhappy. Eyes brim and lips tremble. Yes, you may want to shake Rishi and say, "Why don't you ask HER which boy she loves?" Yes, you may want Dimple to flee a village where people blame her when her father is abused by evil rich people. Yes, you may wish Kamal would not be quite such a martyr. Yet no matter how clearly you can see the ridiculousness of the characters' plight, you can still get caught in Saagar's net. You may even end up wailing NAHIIIIIIIIIIN in the final moments yourself.

So should you see Saagar? Well, that depends. If you sneer at predictability, then stay away--you can be pretty certain that a movie in which Rishi Kapoor and Kamal Hassan compete for the love of Dimple is going to end badly for Kamal.

On the other hand, if you're irresistibly drawn to a raucous drunken dance-off, then by all means go for this one. And I'll be with right there with you. Oscar only likes noble villagers? Well, never mind. I'll watch Rishi in a leisure suit any time he's flinging himself wholeheartedly into the arms of the terpsichorean muse.* It doesn't have to mean anything more than WOOOOO WE ARE HAVING SO MUCH FUN.

Rishi Kapoor and Kamal Hassan's Goan bar dance-off in Saagar

Who needs you anyway, Oscar? Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

*Accidental, but fitting, that this Monty Python reference comes from a sketch about cheese.

Monday, March 31, 2014

ANDAZ APNA APNA: Fun and Funner

Comedy stylings.
After several weeks during which an online course ate up all my free time and there was precious little Bollywooding, I am celebrating the (presumably imminent) arrival of SPRING here in the northeastern US by working my way through a box of comedy DVDs sent my way by the wonderful Supraja*!

First up: a film I tried to watch years ago and so did not get, Andaz Apna Apna. This film stars what today would be a deeply unlikely comedy duo, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan. Even in 2002, renting this from my local Indian grocery, I didn't quite see how Lagaan plus Hum Aapke Hain Kaun could equal anything remotely coherent.... And I ended up flummoxed and not very amused. (Others whose tastes I admire have had similar qualms, including the excellent Beth Loves Bollywood.)

But if Supraja says that this film is a favorite--and if dozens of other writers praise it as one of India's funniest comedies--then I must give it another go! So here's what I think after revisiting this film ten-plus years into Hindi film fandom.

Coherent? OK, it's still not very coherent, or at least not for a gori filmi-fan. And Andaz Apna Apna will probably never be considered great filmmaking by anyone, no matter how fondly fans recall it in the coming decades. (Continuity people, please note that  real hair does not become shorter, longer, and then shorter again over the course of a weekend.) But the good news is that if you're in the mood for something very silly, and if you have seen a lot of Hindi movies, or Sholay several times, then you'll probably be able to move this from the "Wha...?" column to the "Ha!" column. You just might need to watch this one.

We begin with Aamir, as Amar, cycling along in shorts, and aai la! running into stranded film heroine Juhi Chawla (who was Juliet to Aamir's Romeo in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak). He rescues her and wins her heart, but even in this dream sequence Amar is a gold-digging layabout:

juhi chawla, aamir khan
How very modern he is not to insist on Juhi's giving up her film career after the wedding.
When Amar wakes up, he's revealed to be a good-for-nothing who steals money from his hardworking dad's barbershop so he can blow it (or "blow it up," as the subtitles say) on fancy haircuts.

Next we're introduced to Salman as Prem, who is swiping money from his father, a tailor, to pay off a swindler who pretends he has film-world connections and will make Prem a big star. This provides an excuse for a series of hilarious Salman headshots--this trio pretty much sums up his career so far (yet I find him ridiculously charming here).

Salman hero
I love Salman's game face!
Clearly, we've departed from the Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare plots and moved to the implausible wacky Shakespeare comedies, and Andaz Apna Apna plays to the groundlings. Amar and Prem both hear about Raveena, an heiress who has come to India from London in the hope of finding a nice Indian boy to marry. Both of our "heroes" sell their father's businesses and run off with Dad's money, hoping to marry the rich girl. Amar and Prem meet and discover the things they have in common (i.e., lying, laziness, and a desire to marry an heiress). They play some dirty tricks on each other before deciding to join forces to defeat the other thousand or so young men who are lining up to be Raveena's choice.

Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor play Raveena and her secretary, Karisma, or possibly they play Karisma and her secretary, Raveena. (None of the main characters in this film are exactly who they say they are, so this confusion is par for the course.) 

Once the other suitors are dispatched, Amar finagles his way into the heroine's house by faking amnesia, and then Prem pretends to be a doctor who pretends to cure him. Salman in particular appears to be having the time of his life in this scene. He gets to slap and throttle Aamir and threaten him with an injection meant for horses. 
Karisma Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan
Salman wielding a mallet (and a mullet)
Salman's enthusiasm for Karisma's suggestion that the amnesiac be beaten on the head makes for the film's funniest scene. "WHY NOT?!?" he exclaims, in English, with unfeigned glee. If only Salman could work up as much interest in the roles he plays in this decade! 

Karisma wears some of the most hideous outfits you'll ever see on anyone, which is saying a LOT for a 1994 Bollywood film. (The pictured ensemble--pants that appear from the front to be fringed white Daisy Dukes with suspenders but from the back look like leggings--ought to serve as a cautionary tale to adventurous young designers everywhere.)

In due time the boys' identity is more or less revealed, not that anyone cares. The couples pair off, and the girls explain that Karisma is Raveena and vice versa, which is problematic for a couple of minutes and then falls by the wayside to make room for bigger identity issues. Raveena/Karisma's rich industrialist daddy (Paresh Rawal) has an evil twin who decides to kill the daughter to get back at his brother, or something. The servants in the Raveena/Karisma house, Bhalla and Robert, are secretly in the villain's employ and try to do the poor heiress in using a bomb, a poisoned drink, and Vasco da Gama's gun. All of this works exactly as well as it does when Elmer Fudd tries to kill Bugs Bunny. Let it wash over you in the Warner Brothers spirit and/or have a few drinks while viewing, and you'll find yourself giggling like an idiot.

Two simultaneous kidnapping plots, a diamond heist, and dacoity from a villain who calls himself "Crime Master Gogo" occupy much of the second act, which brings all the characters--including both Paresh Rawals--together for a final showdown. And since it's a godown showdown**, the room is filled with barrels and henchmen. One Paresh Rawal's cheek is marked with an X. But is he the good Paresh Rawal or the bad one? 

The good guys (using the term loosely) and the cartoon villains take turns having the upper hand. At one point Gogo and Prem have what appears to be a pelvic-thrust-off:

Crime Master Gogo, Salman Khan

There's no physical contact, but the sheer force of their masculinity knocks them over anyway. Fortunately, nobody gets hurt.

It will come as no surprise that all is well in the end. Everything turns out so well, in fact, that Paresh Rawal (the good one) apparently forgets that Karisma (or is it Raveena?) is merely his daughter's secretary instead of his actual daughter, and everyone acts as if both Amar and Prem are about to become lucky rich husbands of two women who now are apparently both heiresses. What a relief for Amar, who was resigned to marrying the penniless one!

And speaking of families--astonishingly, we never return to the badly dissed fathers of the opening sequences, last seen being put out of their houses. Paresh Rawal is apparently daddy enough for everyone! Pretty soon, he will get to play three father-figures in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, so I guess this is good practice.

Paresh Rawal

Aai la! Oooee ma! Elmer Fudd and Bhalla! A good time is had by all, even by the bad guys whose bombs and guns always backfire. Live-action cartoons can be pretty hilarious. 

*who is AWESOME!! Thank you, Supraja!!

**I have always wanted to say that. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Ram Teri Ganga Maili ("Ram, Your Ganges Is Dirty"), the last film from Great Showman Raj Kapoor, features his son Rajiv, who bears a strong resemblance to his Uncle Shammi, and Raj's discovery Mandakini, a gorgeous woman with black hair and blue, blue eyes.

And breasts. Large breasts. Did I mention the breasts? I probably hardly need to mention them--after all, if you google this title you will get an eyeful--but I wouldn't want anyone to think that Raj's obsession with "generous scoops of flesh" had gone unnoticed. Yes, I noticed the breasts; I promise you that if you watch this film, you will notice them too.

The excellent Phillip's Fil-ums discussion taught me quite a lot that I didn't know about the relationship between this film's story and the Shakuntala story of old. I've heard of Shakuntala (after all, she makes a brief appearance in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun--oh, yes, I am that shallow). However, I didn't know the particulars, so I didn't recognize that this film's plot "recapitulates the Shakuntala story," which is itself a recapitulation of a tale from the Mahabharata. Color me enlightened!

And who knows? Maybe the original story aimed at titillation* of a dudely audience while acting oh-so-concerned about the fate of poor Shakuntala, who was really truly married and therefore the unsullied mother of a legitimate son. If so, then RTGM is definitely the recapitulation of the Shakuntala myth, because titillation and concern-trolling are very much in evidence in this story of lovely Ganga and her misadventures after her secret wedding.

The film opens with the river Ganga looking distinctly on the grubby side. There's even what appears to be a documentary shot of a human corpse drifting along face-down in the water; in the US such things only happen in times of major disaster (see Hurricane Katrina), and in those situations Americans tend to feel hat they're not supposed to stare. But Raj Kapoor invites us, even wants us, to stare--first at the river Ganga and then at our heroine Ganga (Mandakini), a pure and innocent girl from the Himalayas who falls in love with Naren (Rajiv Kapoor), the guileless and rather clueless son of a corrupt politician from Calcutta. There may be some surface tsk-tsking about how badly the men she encounters treat poor Ganga, but I think if Raj Kapoor meant to inspire any real empathy he would have spent less time zooming in on her breasts.

As everyone who has ever heard of this film probably knows, Naren is off on a jaunt to find the source of the river Ganga when he meets a rustic mountain girl of the same name. How can a city boy resist? For one thing, the girl-Ganga bathes in a white sari that becomes transparent when wet, singing that her arms call to him. Ganga, I won't be the first to point out that your arms are not the feature everyone notices.

Mandakini, foggy sheet
The foggy sheet doesn't do a very good job.
Reader, he marries her. It's legit--her brother (Tom Alter!) accepts her spouse, even keeping watch outside the temple during their wedding night. It's a fairly racy wedding night as Bollywood films go, though this time there is only side-cleavage for the slavering dudes. (I can only imagine how many coins would have been thrown at the screen in a Bombay theater by this point in the film.)

secret wedding, Mandakini, side cleavage

 Sadly, the brother is fatally wounded that night while fighting off the guy who thought he was going to marry Ganga, so there are no living witnesses who can vouch for Ganga's wedded status. And Naren, like Shakuntala's prince, waltzes back to Calcutta, promising to return for her with his grandmother's blessing.

Not to spoiler, but Granny dies before she can give that blessing, and guilt overwhelms poor Naren so much that he takes an awfully long time to come back for Ganga. An awfully long time. More than a year, in fact. When he does make his way back, he has run off without his father's permission, and the authorities are on his trail. This entertaining paagal subtitle shows one of the obstacles in his path: an outhouse.
Rajov Kapoor, it is my duty to keep you in this outhouse
In the US, an "outhouse" is an outdoor toilet, in case you're wondering why I find this hilarious.
Meanwhile, Ganga has grown tired of waiting for the father of her infant son (you knew there was a son), so she gets on a bus and starts her journey toward Calcutta. When she gets off the bus to transfer to the Calcutta train at her first stop, she lets a hard-looking beggar woman guide her to her destination, which is a big mistake.

Mandakini believes crafty beggar woman
Don't trust the beggar woman, Ganga!
The beggar woman takes her straight to a brothel and claims a fee from the evil madam for this luscious new girl, but Ganga flees. A bit later she asks a priest for help, and he takes her to his home and tries to molest her. I swear, every man in this film shows a psychotic lack of empathy, perhaps driven mad by the always-already-visible breasts.

At last Ganga catches the train. She's thirsty, but no one will give her water--a woman carrying a pot of water from the Ganges even refuses her a sip. A blind man offers sympathy for Ganga's starving child's dilemma (less coherent in the subtitle than in Hindi, but you get the drift).

We know he's telling the truth because we have just watched sadly as she tried without success to breastfeed her child. Raj Kapoor does an excellent job of getting the audience to empathize with the plight of this distraught young mother who cannot feed her hungry baby. No, that was sarcasm; Raj Kapoor instead does an excellent job of getting the audience to focus on Mandakini's almost entirely bared breasts. Alas, poor Ganga! Hubba hubba!

It turns out that the blind man isn't really blind, and he (like everyone else in the audience) has actually been staring at Ganga's breasts even when she thought she was unseen. He pretends to help her, then drags her to yet another house of prostitution. Poor Ganga. She doesn't escape this time because she knows there's nowhere to run. The people who want to make money off her bounteous breasts are absolutely everywhere.
(Ganga is the middle one.)
It's suggested that Ganga's singing is so lovely that the madam focuses on training her to sing and dance rather than calling on her to sleep with paying customers (at least at first)--so thank goodness she can sing. Therefore, in the end Ganga is sufficiently Umrao Jaan-ified to be called upon to perform at the wedding of a young Calcutta nobleman. Guess who? Yes, it's Naren! And there is something very familiar about that nautch girl. What is it? Neither her face nor her breasts are visible during the dance, so he doesn't quite recognize her at first. But he does finally know her voice. And so Naren and Ganga/Shakuntala are finally reunited, the baby boy gets to meet his daddy at last, and all is right with the world.

Mandakini, Rajiv Kapoor
Happy ending. See how happy they look?

So Ganga finally gets to take her rightful place as an honorable married woman, which is what passes for a happy ending to the story. Now that she is safely ensconced in her husband's house, there will be no more public displays of cleavage, I'm sure. And we have all been sensitized to the plight of young women who find themselves on the road without male protection, haven't we? Haven't we?

Well, no, we haven't. In fact, I'm not sure that "we" have done anything, since as a non-male viewer I don't know whether Raj cared that I was watching. But I watched, and I wondered what on earth I was supposed to feel. Pity for Ganga? Disgust at the men (and women) who take advantage of Ganga's innocence and helplessness? Outrage that a young woman on her own is regarded as little more than a prize buffalo to be  milked (sorry!!) for whatever money she can bring in? Irritation about the "dirty Ganga" metaphor in the title? I'm terribly conflicted about being asked to stare and snicker while I'm supposed to be fearing for Ganga's safety, so I guess the answer is "all of the above."
I wish someone would do for Shakuntala what Anurag Kashyap did for Devdas. This woman needs to arrive in a new century.

*Go ahead. Titter.