An all-female squad that misfires

Premigalige MMCH

Film: Premigalige MMCH

Director: 'Mussanje' Mahesh

Cast: Ragini Dwivedi, Samyuktha Hornad, Prathama Prasad, Meghana Raj, Deepthi

Rating: ** 

The stench from an overflowing garbage dump resolves soon enough into an unidentified body and a murder investigation that goes nowhere. This results in the recall, from suspension, of Jhansirani (Ragini Dwivedi).

At this precise moment, she is drawing on a cheroot while simultaneously bashing up some men who thought they could rape her because she had consumed some liquor. Jhansirani then gallops briskly into the rituals of a police procedural with two sidekicks of such denseness that she must stop, every five minutes, to explain what she is doing.

When she finds whodunnit, the dosa is brutally flipped. There’s a confession and this devolves into an unusual experience for the hapless viewer. Somewhat like being ambushed on a dark, power-cut night by a high-kicking social studies textbook. No broken bones, but you would like to know why an hour or so of your life was wasted thus. The aesthetic highpoint from this assault is four women saying ‘We are proud to be Indian’ and ‘Mera Bharat Mahan’ apropos of nothing in particular.

If you’re seeing any stars, it’s because Mussanje Mahesh has good instincts, but doesn’t know what to do with them. There’s the simple joy of seeing women beat up men, not once but at least thrice. The strange device in the title is a squad abbreviation, for women characters named in alliterative symmetry with their hometowns — Chaya from Chamarajanagar, Harshitha from Hassan, and so on. The film makes a tentative two-step towards what Bengaluru is like for people from small-town Karnataka. It’s a women-centred film twice over. There are no polite lies about why people go to college — no litany of ambition, no faked interest in classes, just a lot of gadding about from corridors to canteen to bakery to dance practice.  

The problem is these moves have no follow-through. The simple joy of girls getting together and becoming a squad is a fit cinematic subject, but gets scant attention. Nor does the cop who becomes superwoman in a hostile workspace. What we get instead is a cinema of mere gesture, in criminal continuity with its own PR noises and press releases.

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An all-female squad that misfires

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