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Friday Feminist Reviews 23rd May, 2020

Kanchanjangha Movie Review: Letting Down Women Characters Once Again.

Directed by and starring Zubeen Garg, Kanchanjangha starts with Garg, portrayed as Anirban, coming back to his village after giving his Assam Public Service Commission exams after a span of two years. He is very optimistic about getting selected but he doesn’t get through due to the prevailing corruption in the selection process. The plotline seems quite promising as most of us aspiring youngsters can relate to his struggle in Assam – the struggle of the middle-class youth and society’s obsession with government jobs.

But suddenly the plot turns towards Zubeen forming a gang of serial killers seeking vengeance from a land mafia member who killed his father. The corruption and injustices of the socio-political scenario are forgone and it becomes about this group of four men trying to kill the land mafia and everyone related to him. The supporting actors of the movie (two women and one man) are mere props with no back story for the audience to invest in.

Here I would especially like to mention the female actors’ whose only role was to cry and look ‘beautiful’. The lack of portrayal of strong female leads or characters is a problem of Indian movies in general and it is not very different in this movie too. For example, the female lead and the love interest of Zubeen (who completed her Masters degree) is sitting at home, jobless and without any career aspirations, expecting the love of her life to get a government job so that they can get married and lead a comfortable and dignified life. She succumbs to the pressure of being married off to a rich big-shot government official, with little to no hesitation.

As the movie talks about the youth and bringing a change in society (at least that is what they tried to), I had expected that the female characters will be portrayed as more progressive or at least with some depth and integrity for the audience to invest in and think about. This movie takes me back to the Assamese movies I grew up watching- which were mostly about family drama and women waiting to marry NRIs – thereby negating their individual personalities (Hiya Diya Niya – a really famous Assamese movie is a prime example of this).

The female actors’ only role was to cry and look ‘beautiful’.

However, what is really liked about the movie was that it was short and crisp and came to the point really soon. The cinematography is exceptional and captures the scenic gems of Northeast India and Bhutan. If you are an Assamese and die-hard Zubeen fan you will like the movie and find no fault at all because it is all about Zubeen. Further, the character that he is portraying is an extended version of his own self. However, I really wished the script was strong, inclusive and well thought of – enough to give my heart into the movie. Overall, its an average movie that is overwhelmingly and all about Zubeen Garg.

The only thing I like about this and every other movie by Zubeen is that he is trying to revive Assamese theatres and making people throng those single-screen theatres and halls all over again. What I also admire was the amount of enthusiasm generated by the audience which is very rare for an Assamese movie. Apparently, the movie halls across the state were almost houseful and it was difficult to get tickets which shows that people are actually putting their hopes back in the Assamese cinema industry (it also proves how much of the normative narrative can actually be changed through the art of visual storytelling). The movie had me looking forward to well thought and well-researched issues, plotlines, etc so that a lasting and positive impact is left on the people.


Featured image used for representational purpose only. Image source: Bookmyshow

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