Panga Review: It’s A Film About Self-Love, Sisterhood And A Refreshingly Woman-Friendly Society We Wish We Had
Long before Kangana Ranaut’s Panga released, I knew in my heart that this one would be another one of her warm, happy movies that will make us think, and more importantly, believe. I loved Queen with all my heart and soul because of so many thoughts that I could take away with me, while also getting thoroughly entertained. In fact, I feel Queen, in some ways or the other, gave all of us the courage to walk away from lukewarm relationships and open ourselves to possibilities. It wasn’t a love story between a man and a woman, but between a woman and her self. It spoke of sisterhood as much as it did of healthy connections. And somehow, when I watched Panga, I left with similar feelings except this time those were even more amplified and layered. Clearly, Kangana is getting it right and showing us the vision of a Utopian society where life would be really, really nice.
We know it’s about a working mother struggling with feelings of guilt, first in a desk job and then while making a comeback to her short-lived dream. But any good movie has several underlying themes that stay with you even after the credits roll out. Panga too, offers perspective on several aspects and what you take away is upto you.
You have to be complete on your own
In the first few minutes of the film, you can see Jaya (Kangana Ranaut) trying hard to balance work and personal life, and by personal life I mean her domestic duties. What she is failing to do is, do something…anything for her self. In a particular outburst, she tells her husband that even though they make her happy, when she looks at herself she doesn’t feel happy because she couldn’t follow her passion. I really felt that. The most important relationship we have is with ourselves and nobody can fill the void in you but you. Unless, you love yourself, it doesn’t matter how much others love you. And we owe it to ourselves to pursue our dreams.
As we begin to get to know Jaya better, we can tell she has a spring in her step, once she starts training for Kabaddi again. We can see the difference in her demeanour from a time when she was simply serving her husband and child, and not herself.
A quick flashback tells us that this woman who is a ticket-issuer at the Railways now, used to be Indian Kabaddi Team’s captain and quite a star at that. She was fit, quick as a cat and a go-getter. She loved the sport passionately and continued to play after marriage, with her husband being her biggest support and cheerleader.
Indian men are conditioned to be domestically clueless
Jaya goes to work, deals with a condescending boss, and maintains a house, husband and a child. What she is trying to do here is be a super-human, fulfilling both her professional and domestic duties but is being unappreciated everywhere. Prashant (Jassi Gill), her husband on the other hand, plays a supporting character when it comes to raising their child, Adi. He is never seen helping her with domestic duties and trying to make things easier for her. In fact, the time when she has to go away for training, he is fumbling to manage things at home. This is a change that we’d like to see!
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A society where women uplift each other
The biggest support Jaya has are the women in her life: her mother (Neena Gupta), her friend and trainer Meenu (Richa Chadda), Nisha (Megha Burman) from her Kabaddi team and even the neighbour aunty who volunteers to take care of Adi in times of need. These are the women who understand her struggles all too well and push her to achieve her dreams. It’s such a feel good element in the film because sisterhood is really important and women no longer pull each other down, but uplift each other!
…and the men at least don’t oppress
The men in the movie aren’t shown as oppressive and that’s still a fantasy for India. For instance, her husband, Prashant isn’t the one who pushed her to follow her dreams initially. However, he did passively support her when she decided to do so. Even the men in the selection committee and other leadership positions aren’t like vehemently uplifting her. But they aren’t oppressing her either and letting her create a mark, if she is able to. However, in reality our country is full of sexist men and a woman has to fight harder to overcome that, than her own shortcomings. In that way, Panga gives us a glimpse into a society that is more women-friendly and maybe maps out a way to achieve that.
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Her child represents the future that we want
The biggest role is played by her child Adi in her comeback. He is the one who pushes her to follow her dreams. He questions Prashant on his lack of support in her domestic duties and why can’t a woman make a comeback at 32. It shows that children don’t know gender stereotypes and sexism unless they are raised in a certain way. In fact, it gives me hope that the coming generation will be free from such toxic masculinity because we as parents will be raising them in an environment of equality. At least, that’s the hope.