On my post about “thinks we would wish for from a genie”, Akshay’s retirement is the winner right now. But I don’t just want him to retire, I want him to redo his recent woman movies RIGHT. And now I shall tell him what he should do.
His first movie that should have been about the woman but turned into about him. And the least bad of them all. Mostly it was Taapsee’s origin story as an awesome spy fighter woman. Until the end when Akshay shows up to guide her through her first mission. All we have to do is have Akshay show up, say “Taapsee, you are completely trained and I don’t even know why I am here. Go off on your first mission and have fun.” And then he leaves and that’s it.
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha
Bhumi is smart and awesome and great, marries Akshay, is very distressed because he doesn’t have a toilet in the house and she has to hold it in until the middle of the night when she is allowed to go in the fields with the other women. She leaves Akshay over the lack of toilet, and then Akshay takes the whole issue over, educates all the women about how dumb they are, and Bhumi pretty much doesn’t do anything else.
All we have to do is turn Akshay into an antagonist. Bhumi marries him and then learns his family is more traditional then he presented them, is frustrated with her mind going stagnant, and horrified at the social and health issues around this practice of women only urinating or defecating in the middle of the night. After some tense arguments, she walks out of the marriage and returns to her parents house. Akshay presents it to the town as Bhumi being “spoiled” and not willing to “adjust”. This so angers Bhumi that she realizes she can’t leave this as just a private issue, she has to speak up because she has nothing to be ashamed about. She partners with a doctor at the local woman’s clinic to discuss the various horrible health issues and they go out into the fields at night to reach the women. It turns into a general discussion circle as the women start sharing their stories of bladder problems, painful pregnances, infections, and everything else. These discussions inspire them, and soon Bhumi and the doctor are leading a march on the local authorities, strikes, protests, and every household is going through the same uproar as Akshay’s.
Akshay finally realizes that he was a bad husband for not listening seriously to Bhumi’s problems in his house and goes and apologizes to her. Bhumi accepts his apology but tells him she is not ready to move back. She wants her divorce, and someday she will marry a different man. He may or may not have a toilet in his home, but he won’t lie to her about it, and he won’t tell her it doesn’t matter when she thinks it does. Bhumi wins her court case and gets her divorce and happily applies for graduate school. Akshay sadly watches her train leave the station from a distance, aware he no longer belongs in her life.
This is a toughie, because the real life guy is a bit iffy. Like, all you have to do is know just a little bit about periods and pads to have questions. For one thing, the young women I know are more and more moving towards reusable solutions and away from disposable. For another, the modern pad style wasn’t around until just about 50 years ago (who here remembers sanitary belts?) and it wasn’t great, but women survived. And for a third, no one ever talks about tampons which is just WEIRD.
I guess what I would like is tell the real story (well, as it has been massaged and presented) from the perspective of both the wife Radhike and the husband Akshay. Radhike as a young girl is taught feminine hygiene by her mother and aunts. She arrives at Akshay’s house, and joins in teaching Akshay’s youngest sister the same lessons. And then one day Akshay comes home and tells her to try a pad instead of folded fabric dried in the sun and is distressed. Because she doesn’t like talking about these things with a man, it doesn’t feel right, and Akshay is questioning the wisdom she was taught by the older women in her family.
Akshay doesn’t respect her feelings, he keeps talking about this, and pushes his sisters to talk about it too. And he starts trying to build his own sanitary pads and Radhike hates them and hates wearing them and is embarrassed because she can’t trust them. It gets worse and worse and he just keeps saying he is doing it “for Radhike”, but she is humiliated seeing him picking through trash to find used pads and trying to force his way into female spaces, and most of all angry that he doesn’t seem willing to listen to her or take her concerns seriously. His sisters and mother are even more distressed. Finally, Radhike finds the other women huddled inside because their friends aren’t talking to them, they are ashamed to show their faces, and they don’t feel safe in their own home because Akshay keeps trying to make them talk about uncomfortable things. Radhike inspires them to be brave and just leave. If Akshay can make them unhappy in their own home, it isn’t a home any more. All of his family leave at once, and Akshay tells them it is just because they don’t understand or appreciate what he is doing.
Radhike returns home and her father is angry and won’t talk to her. But she gets alone with her mother and grandmother and explains what happened in detail, and her mother and grandmother go and talk to her father and brother and tell them it is none of their business, it is women’s things, but they need to respect her privacy and understand. Her father and brother agree, and are silently sympathetic to Radhike, without asking any questions.
Akshay’s life goes from bad to worse. He lives alone, struggles, is obsessed with his invention. But once he thinks he has perfected it, he can’t get anyone to actually try it. Until he meets Sonam who is desperate enough to try it and, when he corners her later, is brave enough to give real feedback. Sonam is also outspoken and not afraid of him (because she was raised to be fearless) and tells Akshay to his face that he needs to respect women and their right to make choices over their own bodies. He has made a good invention, but it can’t replace what women already have, just give them more options. Sonam is practical, she doesn’t like Akshay much (and tells him that) but she likes his invention. She gives him the hard talk and hard truth he needs. He starts to realize that he has gone about everything wrong, he should have invited Radhike and women in general to be his partners not his test subjects. He talks to his mother and sisters and apologizes to them and their relationship heals.
Eventually, years later, Radhike sees Akshay on tv with tough Sonam and realizes he isn’t that scary after all. He is a quiet man, respectful of others, capable of listening. And she has gotten stronger, trained by her brother and father who respect her boundaries. So she picks up the phone and calls Akshay. They agree to meet, talk and get to know each other again. They meet at a coffee shop, Akshay orders for both of them, then stops himself and asks Radhike “no, what do YOU want?” HAPPY ENDING
Real REAL simple! Vidya presents her idea to Akshay, Akshay loves it, and then presents it to the big boss as if it is his idea totally unconscious of what he has just done. He gets to be the head of the team, not Vidya, and Vidya is stunned speechless that Akshay doesn’t even see what he has done. She goes home furious and vents to Sanjay who tells her to just quit her job if she hates it that much. In anger, she storms out of the house and goes out to drink with the other women on the team. They drunk-shout at each other about how horrible Akshay is, and men in general, and The Patriarchy. They all share their problems at home with each other and go home all psyched up to deal with it. The next day they wimp out, are hungover at work, and sad. But then Vidya gives an inspiring speech about how they are women, they have to work twice as hard to go half as far and look where they have come. They need to go home and deal with their business and then come back ready to work with no distractions.
Nithya goes home and tells her mother-in-law it is time for her to GO. Sonakshi tells Sharman Joshi to stop creeping up on her, she is not interested. Kirti tells her landlord she is filing a case against him for trying to throw her out for being Muslim. Taapsee talks to herself about internalized gender roles, and then tells her husband that she loves him but she can’t care for him and do her job and she really loves her job, so she is going to hire a home nurse and not feel guilty about it. And Vidya tells Sanjay that she is never going to quit her job, but he is going to quit his and stay home and take care of the house and the kids. Or else she is leaving him. And he needs to suck it up and learn to see things from the perspective of others.
The women are inspired and work like clockwork at work. Akshay shows up to present their work to the Big Boss and messes up some of the details. Vidya comes in at the last minute to save him. Akshay tries to dismiss her contribution, but then messes up again and she has to save him again. Finally the big boss turns and is just listening to Vidya. Akshay gets frustrated and says “sir, you put me in charge but you are listening to her. Why am I even here?” And the big boss says, “yes, exactly what I am thinking, why ARE you here?” And then Akshay gets fired. And Vidya and the other women go out for a celebratory drinking fest, this time with husbands invited, and Sharman Joshi. Who dances with Sonakshi, but accepts it when she breaks off to dance with a hot dude.
And then they succeed in their mission and go to Mars, once they are brave enough to defeat the Patriarchy that was holding them back.
Kareena really really wants a baby. She loves her job and thrives there, the time has flown by as she got promotion after promotion. But then she has her 35th birthday and is suddenly worried as she realizes her chances of having a baby are now very small. Akshay doesn’t seem to get it, keeps trying to cheer her up and joke, but Kareena’s friends understand her stress between career and children and the unfairness that a woman always has to chose, and sometimes feels like she is losing both choices.
They agree to the IVF treatments, and Kareena feels horribly ill for a month, while Akshay doesn’t seem to notice. Her sympathetic work friends bring her herbal tea and ask how she is doing. She can’t wait for it all to be over and sincerely tells her friends that it has to work, because she doesn’t think she can survive going through this again.
Blah blah, pregnancy takes. And then the mistake comes out. And Kareena is all torn up and scared that Akshay won’t be on board with this pregnancy and she will never have another chance. She goes along with whatever Akshay wants to try to please him. But then she meets Kiara at the discussion of the contract, and sees how Diljit is entirely “present” for Kiara. She befriends Kiara (not just at the last minute, but right away). The two women bond and talk about their different experiences with marriage and infertility. Kiara never wanted a career or had any of that, she has wanted babies for longer than Kareena, and Diljit has been with her the entire time. Kareena begins to look at her marriage differently. Yes, she has a career and independence and so on. But her husband is ultimately selfish, did he support her career because he wanted it for her or because it was more convenient for him?
Kiara has the early labor and Akshay sees the baby and sees Diljit with the baby and finally understands fatherhood. Kareena sees it too and finally understands that Akshay is a stranger to her who has never really been there, and leaves him. And now we get wacky hijinks with Akshay trying to win back his own wife, who is pregnant, but not with his baby. Akshay is humiliated over and over again, even loses his job, and the respect of his family, but sticks it out. Kareena wants to believe it, remembers the early years of their courtship when he was humble and sweet, but isn’t sure. Finally talking with Kiara helps her sort out her feelings. And at the last minute, she asks for Akshay to be in the birthing room with her. But when it is over, she tells him this isn’t everything. She wants him in their daughter’s life, and she wants to trust him, but she isn’t there yet. He needs to get his life together and be patient, they will move slow and see what happens. Photo montage Open Ending, we see them as a happy family of three, and Kiara and Kareena are still close, and the kids are raised as siblings, but it isn’t clear if Akshay is just a co-parent or a husband