Modern Love Mumbai: A feminism overpass


Modern Love Mumbai: A feminism overpass


Raat Rani, which is set in the magical city of Mumbai, follows Lalzari (Fatima Sana Shaikh) on her journey from experiencing the hardships of her husband's abandonment to realizing self-love with the use of just an old bicycle. The Bike That Saved My Life, a New York Times column by "Modern Love," served as the basis for this narrative.

Lalzari, a Kashmiri native, eloped with her future husband, Lutfi (Bhupendra Jadawat), a member of a lower caste, as a result of rejection from her family. The couple lives in a one-room kholi in the Mumbai slums and works as a cook and a security guard, respectively, at a posh apartment in the city's suburbs. However, Lalzari's experiences as a person, a woman, and a tiny member of the massive working class have been subtly woven into the novel by Nilesh Maniyar, while also giving Mumbai its own personality. This is due to the unfortunate incident of Lutfi abandoning her.

Nuanced Feminism

Feminism is an ideology, and it is clear that it is not an easy one to comprehend and apply. Most individuals don't realize that promoting gender equality and women's empowerment DOES NOT mean demeaning or putting down the socially advantaged male sex. Contrary to popular opinion, gender has no influence on the feminist concept.

Similarly, the idea of patriarchy is not gendered. A guy can carefully select and embrace a feminist philosophy to adhere to for himself, whereas a woman could fervently accept and preach her long-held patriarchal beliefs despite always being on the receiving end of them. The intricately feminist script for Raat Rani, written by a guy, is a prime illustration of this.

Additionally, using the Bandra-Worli Sea Link as a metaphor, the script captures Lalzari's desire to be her own person in a world full of regulations that forbid riding a motorcycle, attending college, going out at night, and falling in love, especially outside of one's community. In addition, when the male partner departs, women are strictly forbidden from being happy, adhering to the stereotypical social image of an abla naari (helpless woman).

The short film closes with a stunning last image of Lalzari pedaling her old bicycle on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and asking the obligatory inquiry, "Aur kya kya not allowed hai?" (What else is prohibited?) Even if it seems like the main theme, the multidimensional short film that declares the value of self-love within the broad framework of feminist philosophy benefits from every frame of this well-chosen cinematographic masterpiece.

A cook first, then a wife

An intriguing comparison can be made between Lalzari's life and the clientele of her boss Ray (she is a lawyer). Both unions are on the verge of dissolution. Each of the couples is struggling. However, only one of those couples is permitted to suspend life due to their failing marriage. As one might expect, Ray's clients, an affluent Gujarati coupled with what appears to be home on the moon as well, are free to focus solely on their impending divorce by simply pausing other important life activities. Lalzari, however, is not treated the same way. Her first and foremost identity is that of a working woman.

Her sole concern at the time was how she would get to work, which overshadowed the elegant portrayal of her hysterics upon learning that her husband had abandoned her one lovely morning and left nothing except a note pressed beneath the basket of his old bicycle. She was cursing under her breath the entire time she was riding her bicycle, which required her to cover a significant distance and including climbing and descending a flyover. However, her goal was to arrive at her workplace, and she was steadfast in her pursuit. The film's portrayal of this terrible reality was not only upsetting to behold, but also difficult to take.

This film's subtle Marxist element relates to Working Woman and Mother, a 1916 article by Russian revolutionary, politician, diplomat, and Marxist theorist Alexandra Kollontai. She unabashedly draws attention to the significant disparity in treatment between Mashenka, the wife of the bourgeois factory director, and Mashenka, a member of the proletariat who worked as a maid, laundress, and dye worker in the former's home. The story is about pregnant women who, however, experience unequal treatment just because of their social class. The laundress is forced to work until the ninth month in order to cover the upcoming costs, unlike the factory director's wife Mashenka who is free to rest, eat what she wants, and receive the best treatment possible while living under the same roof. How great of a gap there would be after childbirth is only conceivable. Lalzari experienced a similar hand-to-mouth existence; she saved and used her rainy-day money to build the kholi she lived in, while her husband used the remainder to buy a scooter, leaving their financial condition in a dire state.

Being Female

The notion of Ethics of Care, which emerged from Carol Gilligan's book "In a Different Voice," an American psychologist and ethicist, appears to attribute gendered values to how people perceive morality. That is, "feminine values" are associated with empathy, deep emotions, collectivism, and complacency, whereas "masculine values" are associated with individualistic behavior, practicality, and shallow emotions. This association need not be exact. Even though Lalzari is clearly in a dismal situation after being abandoned, she still cares about Lutfi's meals because it is her moral obligation to do so as a woman, but Lutfi is just concerned with being the mard (chauvinistic man). In a fleeting scene where she almost jumps over the flyover but is fortunately stopped when her dress gets caught on the handlebar of the bicycle, the movie depicts her desperation.

Female subjection is not necessarily a sign of or an implicit component of patriarchy, yet it cannot entirely be avoided either. The profoundly patriarchal character of Lutfi, expertly portrayed by Jadawat, only serves to highlight Shaikh's stellar performance as Lalzari and help the audience understand the film's subtly effective feminism.

When Lutfi threatens to leave Lalzari on the street in exchange for her request to participate in a lighthearted puerile dance, he gives away his authoritarian tendencies. The fear of Lalzari not being a total disaster when he leaves and the possibility that she might be dating someone else, however, brings out his innately patriarchal inclination. When Lalzari rejects his attempts to keep the door open for himself because he wants to come and go as he pleases, he considers giving up permanently. Lalzari jokes, "Talaq, talaq, talaq (divorce)", to which Lutfi cunningly responds, "Saying that won't make you a man," making it clear that he is not the typical spouse in this situation.

The oppressive portrayal of Muslim women in the media is not new to the globe in this sense. To promote women in Islam today, Iranian legal anthropologist Ziba Mir-Hosseini proposes making a significant line between the law (Sharia) and its application. She emphasizes a new discourse that distinguishes between religious thinking (its interpretation), which is subject to subjectivity, and religion (the law), which is unchanging. Her goal is to establish gender equity in the modern world by reinterpreting the same deeply sacred text. There are many ways to interpret a law, including textual, purposeful, and intentionalist approaches, to mention a few. However, choosing one approach out of convenience goes against the spirit of a humanitarian "rule of law," as all children are equal in the eyes of the Supreme.

As a potential outcome of the aforementioned feminist belief, all of Lutfi's desperate and evil attempts to impose upon Lalzari the role of her husband seem to shatter in the face of her 

Flyover of Self-love

The use of a flyover bridge as a symbol for self-actualization is an example of the short film's straightforward yet effective screenplay. After Lutfi left, Lalzari struggled for a few days to pedal the ancient, largely male bicycle across the bridge. It seemed to get a little difficult and hectic, until the day she ascended the flyover without even realizing it. Her tough bicycle served as her lone company throughout, which is also a monument to her determination since she begins the journey shaky and defenseless but ends it in a state of effortless cycling. The scene's description does not give Shaikh's superb acting ability, which includes the ability to creatively convey the exact emotions of the actor to the audience, justice. The audience is left with a wonderful, fuzzy sensation of satisfaction as a result of her eyes lighting up, the way she securely clutches her bicycle companion, and the childish dance she breaks out atop the bridge. For me, she motivates and illuminates the process of self-actualization with her unwavering and persistent quest.

Lalzari once came home one evening to see her ceiling caved in, just like her dismal fate. According to the local contractor's estimate, she would have had to spend 20,000 rupees to fix the roof. She wanted to repair the shredded roof because she wanted to believe that her estranged spouse would return while she was high on adrenaline. When her senses returned, she realized that saving so much money was as implausible as her buying a home on the moon next to the affluent Gujarati couple. She was unfortunately forced to make do with temporary solutions in the form of a tarpaulin sheet. Her sincere and passionate desire to repair the crumbling roof for herself alone, however, is the clearest indication of her progress toward self-actualization. Finance was undoubtedly a top priority, but it was never a barrier.

The labor laws aren't the best option to protect their interests in a country like India where the majority of the workforce is employed in the unorganized sector. Invoke the need for reforms like minimum and fair pay in such circumstances. An individual's essential needs for existence are covered by minimum wages, which "shall be paid in any situation, irrespective of the extent of profits, the financial position or availability of workmen." It is applicable to all, big or small, regardless of the type of industry.

A fair wage includes a salary that is "sufficiently high to provide a standard family with food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education of children appropriate for the workmen but not at a rate exceeding his wage-earning capacity in the class of establishment to which he belongs." A fair wage is also an amount that is above the minimum wage, which ensures a little more dignity and leisure. The importance of a minimum wage is emphasized by numerous legal precedents and laws, including Section 6 of the 2019 Code on Wages and Article 43 of the Constitution. This is true, particularly for unorganized labor.

Sadly, despite the aforementioned precautions, saving a substantial sum of money all at once can frequently deliver a devastating blow to an unorganized worker's monthly finances like Lalzari. She decided to go above and beyond to earn extra money by selling kahwa (Kashmiri tea) on Mumbai's streets beyond her regular working hours. The film's writer, who deftly created Lalzari's character selling kahwa under the brand name Raat Rani (night-blooming jasmine), which also happens to be the title of the movie, beautifully expressed, "The sun and the moon take turns to shine." The moniker implies that Raat Rani has an unbreakable aura that frequently draws snakes out of hiding. In an absurd attempt to stop this, people frequently plant a day-blooming jasmine or Din ka Raja next to Raat Rani.

After ten Sundays, an untold number of Kahwas, and relentless efforts, Lalzari succeeded in creating the Taj Mahal of her dreams—for herself and no one else.

It is uncommon to see a film with such clarity and coherence that compels viewers to think carefully and deeply. This kind of movie is Raat Rani. This episode of the six-part Amazon Prime online series "Modern Love: Mumbai" is an utter treat due to the pure flair delivered to the audience through the script, directing, cinematography, and superb performances. All of this, together with the sagacity of Mumbai, is shown in this movie as a visual delight through pictures of the Bandra Worli Sea Link, the Arabian Sea, and other Mumbai slums. The subtleties of feminism didn't shout out loud and in your face like they did in other mainstream media, but they did seem to function. Less is more, as they say in numerous contexts. One figurative statement, "Maine flyover cross Kar Liya" (I crossed the flyover), spoke more than many books ever could.

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