Sunday, March 13, 2016

Movie Review - Girlhood/ Bande de filles (original title)

I went to watch this movie at The Lost Plot. It is quite a beautiful setting to watch a movie on the rooftop of a beautiful hotel and order delicious munchies and cold beers :) I will save the review about the experience itself in a separate post. I hoped to spend a beautiful evening with myself in the company of an offbeat movie. Girlhood, it turned out, is all that and more.

Girlhood is the story about a 15-16 year old girl from Paris's suburbs, who lives with her multiple siblings including an abusive brother and a mother. The mother, though present is absolutely non existent in the context of her upbringing. Now this is almost unlike India where parents play a part in their children's lives, sometimes even into their adulthood. How that works for anyone is a personal story but I was certainly thankful about it after watching the movie. We might not agree with most choices this girl makes. She drops out of vocational training to join a group of rebellious girls because she thinks it is cool and mostly because she's looking for the freedom those happy girls seem to have. But pretty soon she realizes that they are still where they were and the path definitely doesn't lead to freedom of any kind.

But what this journey through her eyes shows us is girls are the same everywhere. We all have crushes, we love spending time with our girlfriends and above all, we are all looking to fit in, belong, somewhere. She grows stronger through every experience, changes herself to fit in, twice, hoping she will belong and that it's the path to her flight. If you're hoping this is a comfortable story with neat incidents and a happy conclusive ending, you're mistaken. Sciamma makes no attempt at tying in her loose ends and has no interest in giving us happy butterflies in our stomach. She gives us the reality, however uncomfortable and gives us the courage and strength in Marieme's eyes to just make us float through. Though still feeling confident that the girl will find her answers not soon, but eventually, like most of us.

The most poignant scenes of the film are the ones where Marieme changes. I mean she literally changes, her styling, clothes, her hair. It gives us a window into the experience that comes next. The styling itself is brilliant and as one of the hostesses at the screening pointed out, is used as a tool to take us through this girl's journey. The scene where we find out that Marieme is trying to hide her breasts under bandages and has her hair short to appear like a boy is heartbreaking. It throws the reality in our face, how all the more difficult it is for a teenage girl to survive the evils of a neighborhood. When she is assaulted by her boss and has no other choice but to leave, she goes straight to her boyfriend her confidante who offers lovingly to marry her so that they can live together and she would no longer be a "slut" and hence be accepted back in her family and neighborhood. Her struggle is real, but when she declines his offer of a safe marriage and kids we realize how much Marieme has discovered herself and how confident she is of what she wants. She doesn't want that life she says and all I can whisper is "You go girl!"

Watch this movie with your band of girls or alone, because this film is a must-watch for the brilliance of the story, direction and the lead actress. And did I mention it's almost entirely an African-French cast and most of them women? Yes! That perspective makes it all the more unique.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I ran a mini marathon

So, I ran a mini marathon. I just discovered that a marathon is 42 Km and 21 Km is a half - marathon hence I am calling a 10 Km race as a mini marathon. And I discovered it was a stupid decision. I will tell you why. I am at least 65 Kg in weight. I say at least because I haven't checked in a while for the fear of fainting at the number. I have zero experience in running, never even ran a race in school. When I mean zero, I mean I have never ever run more than a couple metres at a time. And add to that I have no regular exercise routine. So why did I commit to doing a thing I was sure of failing at? It offered a challenge, which I love. And I had been told by a well meaning close friend that I looked like a mother to two children when I drape a saree. I would like to point out why this was offending, I am 28 years old and have never been pregnant. So about that, I really want to write another post. But suffice it to say that that comment was a pretty big motivator to me. Simply to prove to myself that I am not as lazy as I pretend to be. Prove this to just me mind you, nobody else.
I know you are wondering if I completed it. I did! I walked most of the way and when I ran, I really really wanted to quit but I kept going. Even when my face burned and I couldn't feel my legs and even when I simply just wanted to stop, I kept going. And then something amazing happened. My body gave me a tight slap back. It told me to go f**k myself for even expecting to complete such a feat with zero time spent on preparation. Thankfully I am young enough that I didn't come home with major injuries, the possibility of which was fairly real. The ordeal for the next 24 hours after the race turned out to be far greater than the race itself.
What this whole experience really taught me was to listen to my body. To not expect it to go on without working on it. Talking about body image issues is a big deal. It is difficult, it is potentially the most difficult thing I have talked about. But I decided it was time to acknowledge what my body was telling me and to not hate it. Where you are with fitness is a result of all the conscious and unconscious choices you have made though years.
As a side effect, I have come back with love for running. I have come back with an aim to 'run' next year. Man that sense of accomplishment is addictive. And why am I putting this on a public forum for everyone to judge, so that I am forced to keep this promise.