The bickering of an average middle class home… they never cease to be special no matter how ordinary the circumstances. The specialness of an ordinary household is so strongly redolent in the trailer of Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s third feature film Panga that I could smell the aloo dum crurry cooking in the kitchen.
But hang on. What is this? Kangana Ranuat doesn’t only play an ordinary wife and mother coping with the demands of her thankless role of a householder. She is a retired Kabbaddi player, and she wants to make a comeback.
Ridiculous, says her mother played by the wonderful Neena Gupta (discarding the frock for the family flock). “I’m not supporting you in this.”
“Who’s asking for your support?” counters the sporty daughter, now committed to looking after her family, she also slips in a line about why Mom didn’t bring gonde ke laddoo with her.
Elsewhere, on the sofa, I could hear Kabbaddi’s comeback queen’s husband complaining about being served tea with kheer.
Don’t get him wrong. The husband is one helluva of supportive spouse. The trailer shows him taking kabbaddi kicks on his bum from his wife in bed, preparing breakfast for their son while she prepares for the akhaada, taking a walk with his stressed wife, seeing her off at the station. Jassi Gill’s husband act reminds me of Armie Hammer in On The Basis Of Sex.
Come to think of it, this unconditional wholehearted spousal support could also be taken out of the director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s own marriage.
Panga seems like a film that doesn’t demonize the male to earn brownie points for its female hero. It looks like 2020 is going to be a year of the female hero. Bhumi plays one in Durgavati. In Panga, Kangana seems to have discovered that core of humanism in her pilgrimage to empowerment that she seems to have lost in some of her recent films. She is warm and feisty , involved and yet not steeped in self-importance as she brings to the screen the emotional struggles of a sportswoman who loses her fame,and is not quite resigned to a life of anonymity.
There is this brilliant moment of introspection when the retired kabadddi athlete Jaya Nigam excitedly tries to make conversation with young athletes at a public place, and they snub her.
It isn’t easy to deal with lost recognition. Panga celebrates anonymity without glorifying or romanticizing it. From the kitchen, I can’t wait to see where director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari will take her female hero.