A group of college friends. A wedding. Countless secrets. Billed as “India’s first female buddy comedy,” Angry Indian Goddesses seems at first like the South Asian spin on Bridesmaids. But in the hands of award-winning filmmaker Pan Nalin (Samsara), the story takes surprising turns that upend genre expectations and explore the pressing issues of gender and sexism in contemporary Indian society.
In the scenic beachside state of Goa, Frieda (Sarah Jane Dias), a strong-willed and celebrated photographer, gathers her closest friends on the eve of her nuptials. The diverse (and often hilarious) group is a snapshot of modern Indian society: Su (Sandhya Mridul), a businesswoman and mother; the engaging Nargis (Tannishtha Chatterjee, Siddharth, Anna Karenina); Jo (Amrit Maghera), an aspiring Bollywood actress; Pammy (Pavleen Gujral), a housewife; Mad (Anushka Manchanda), a singer-songwriter; and the house servant, Lakshmi (Rajshri Deshpande). Everything is set for a night of celebration. There is only one issue: Frieda will not say who her betrothed is.
As they banter their way through a tonally varied series of scenes—some of them jubilantly comic, others loaded with pathos—the characters in Angry Indian Goddesses evolve far beyond mere tropes. Their conversation, derived entirely from improvisations among the actors, covers everything from sex to street harassment to the buff (and often shirtless) next-door neighbour. As the night goes on, we become acquainted with the women’s dreams, desires, fears, and above all, their unwavering bond with one another—a bond that eventually takes them to extreme lengths.
The 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder sparked discussions about women’s rights in India that are still ongoing. An important new cinematic entry in the conversation, Angry Indian Goddesses is a refreshing and frank depiction of female empowerment from a key figure in independent South Asian cinema.
“The cast are a talented and spirited bunch, enjoying the opportunity to let loose with grievances while revelling in the togetherness of female-centric safety.” (Jay Weissberg, Variety)
“Incidents related to violence and discrimination against women in India continue to generate news headlines, prompting vehement reactions from numerous segments of society. Angry Indian Goddesses constitutes veteran indie filmmaker Pan Nalin’s focused response—an indictment of chauvinistic attitudes and behavior that doesn’t need cultural translation to convey its outraged perspective. [His] ensemble dramedy follows a group of Indian women who confront frequent discrimination and harassment with courage and humor.” (Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter)