Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has teamed with Kangana Ranaut to bring us Panga, a film about the comeback of a Kabaddi player well past her prime. However, if the trailer of the film is anything to go by, then Panga seems to be more of a story about a mother giving her dreams a second chance. Bubbling with the feel-good vibes that we have now begun to associate with Tiwary’s every film, Panga could be the story of empowerment that we have been denied this year, where men slip into supportive roles and women fight tooth and nail to reclaim their space. The film also stars Jassie Gill, Richa Chadha and Neena Gupta in supporting roles.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The trailer of Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Panga, which stars Kangana Ranaut in the lead role is out.
  • Panga is the story of a former Kabaddi player who now works as a railway employee and is the mother of a child.
  • The trailer raises some important questions. Do mothers have no right to dream?
  • Is there an age limit for women to make a professional comeback?

Bubbling with the feel-good vibes that we have now begun to associate with Tiwari’s every film, Panga could be the story of empowerment that we have been craving for this year, where men slip into supportive roles and women fight tooth and nail to reclaim their space.

Panga is the story of Jaya Nigam a former Kabaddi team captain and an ace raider of her time, stuck in a railways job, whose feet are impatient to kick up dust. The recipient of these kicks which fail to find solace of a Kabaddi maidan is her husband who has to use a hot pack to soothe his bruised bum. Jaya is a regular small town mom and wife, who packs lunches for her husband and child and asks school-tempo driver to drive slowly. Kangana brings restraint and humility to her character that is conflicted by this restlessness she feels despite leading a seemingly perfect life.

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This feeling is so relatable, especially to moms like me who have put their careers on hold or compromised with their dreams to embrace motherhood. To society our lives are perfect. We have a nice husband, a cute kid, and a well-paying job. What else could a woman want? Shouldn’t she be grateful for whatever she has made of her life? Afterall not many women are lucky enough to be loved, or work or have an individual identity once they settle down in their married lives. Do mothers have no right to dream? To seek individual identity?

In a lot of cases, women are advised to not pursue their dreams because “it is too late.” There’s a scene in Panga’s trailer where Jaya’s son asks his father, “Kya 32 me comeback nahi hote?” (Do comebacks not happen at the age of 32?) Perhaps we should rephrase to ask here, can’t women make a comeback above a certain age? 32, 45, 57…these are all numbers, what matters is conviction. Who cares if one fails, or doesn’t achieve enviable success after risking so much? What should matter is that you try and give yourself a second chance.

As in her first film Nil Battey Sannata, Tiwary has yet again chosen to tell an inspiring story which also poses some relevant questions.

The trailer also makes a commentary on the state of other sports and those who play them in a cricket crazy nation. In one scene Jaya tries to introduce herself to what looks like a bunch of Kabaddi players, only to feel tongue-tied. When her colleague remarks that they don’t seem to recognise her (considering the fact that she was national team’s captain at one point of time), Jaya retorts, “Kabaddi walon ko kaun pehchanta hai.”

Also Read: Five Things Bollywood Should Do Differently In 2020

As in her first film Nil Battey Sannata, Tiwary has yet again chosen to tell an inspiring story which also poses some relevant questions. The protagonist in Nil Battey Sannata defies social stigma and battles economical limitations to champion education, not just for herself but for her daughter too. Just as Chanda is backed by a kind employer and a government school principal, Jaya here finds support in her husband and son. This is indicative of how important it is for families and society to form a support system for women if they are to give themselves a second chance.

Could Panga be the film which finally teaches Bollywood that all you need is a good film with its heart in the right place, to send across the message of women empowerment? That the narrative of women’s stories should lie with them, and not be highjacked by male superstars in the lust of box office numbers? We’ll have to wait and watch.

Image Credit: YouTube screenshot

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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