HYDERABAD: The hitherto stifled voice of women has found an expression on OTTs and they are undoubtedly making the most of it. After ‘Hush Hush’, boasting of an almost all-female cast ‘n’ crew, we now have ‘Wonder Women’. The latest offering on SonyLiv is yet another example of ‘By the women, of the women, and for the women’ work.
Written and directed by Anjali Menon, the movie sports a fabulous cast comprising Parvathy (Mini), Amruta Subhash (Jaya), Nithya Menen (Nora), Padmapriya (Veni), Sayonara Philip (Saya), and Archana Padmini (Gracy). These six women, all from various strata of society and mental frames, meet at a workshop for to-be mothers held by Nandita (played by a brilliant Nadiya Moidu). Through them, Anjali tries to map the nine-month journey which is full of excitement and excruciating pain. Or at times, the superheroes as they are termed in the movie may feel nothing.
Films have often been accused of glamourising certain aspects of life and motherhood is a shining example of it. All mental and physical problems a woman goes through in those nine months can be understood only by her. Unfortunately, the gamut of emotions has been brushed under the carpet in an attempt to deify women and motherhood. ‘Wonder Women’ tries to break it as one of the characters says, “Mein manushya, stree hoon.” (I am just a woman.)
They say it takes a village to raise a child and hence Anjali has tried to pack in a lot in an almost 1.20 hours long story.
She wants to tell us about how an expecting mother might feel hungry all the time or how disconnected she will be from the world around her during pregnancy. She also touches upon issues like linguistic parochialism as the story takes place in Kerala and all the women attending the pre-natal workshop here necessarily do not speak the same language. She introduces us to happy-go-lucky women, a helicopter mother-in-law, a woman who is going through a divorce, or another one who is into a live-in and does not hide it.
Unfortunately, in the process to say a lot, no single track or plot gets due focus. Maybe that was the intention. However, still, two stories stand out. One is of Jaya played convincingly by Amrita Subash who had three miscarriages and is yearning for a baby. She has a supportive husband, Umesh, but is scared to the core and hence joins this group of motley women to find some support. The second story is that of Mini, who is easily labeled the killjoy of the group but has a lot going on in her life. Performance-wise too Amrita and Parvathy lead the pack while the subtle and at times not-so-subtle tussle between Parvathy and Nithya holds our attention. Watch Amrita in the climax when she has to be rushed to the hospital. She is scared that she might lose the baby again and desperately wants her husband to be by her side. In fact, the climax when the entire group comes together and stands for her brings a smile to your face.
Anjali has tried to strike a balance in her storytelling by ensuring that the oft-maligned tag of ‘feminist’ does not stick to her story. Papas-to-be also get representation. For example, Jaya’s husband stands out when he says he values his wife more than the child, or Veni’s husband when he openly speaks about his fears and hesitations.
However, the story is primarily about moms-to-be and not parents-to-be. It is important in the sense that now filmmakers, especially women, are not shying away from telling real slice-of-life stories. More power to them.
As the end titles roll and the names of the lead cast appear on screen, it concludes with “in and as” ‘Wonder Women’. It pays homage to sorority and is an important lesson in teamwork.
‘Wonder Women’ is conceived with lots of love and care, is pregnant with passion, and hence delivers a story that is insightful but not preachy. You can see this bundle of joy on SonyLiv....