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April 20, 2017

Circle of Friends: An Immersive Conversation On The Issues Facing Women

Text by Prabha Chandran

Aparna Sen, Lillete Dubey and Shabana Azmi, along with successful women from diverse fields, look into the issues concerning the contemporary woman

Welcome to the April 2017 edition of Verve’s Circle of Friends, an eclectic series bringing together a group of remarkable women – and some courageous men – to nourish both mind and body with the finest fare on offer. This time round, we met at Delhi’s Olive Bar and Kitchen that served a sprawling nine-course meal curated by Chef Dhruv Oberoi. In the shadow of the towering Qutab Minar for a no-holds-barred discussion with three of Bollywood’s brightest: director and actor Aparna Sen, actor and activist Shabana Azmi and actor and theatre impresario Lillete Dubey. Three women who together have made Sonata, a thought-provoking film about single, successful, middle–aged women who live life on their own terms but reveal layers of inner regret and emotional baggage as the film progresses. The theme interests the 11 women seated around the table, all of them from different walks of life. Introductions over, moderator Prabha Chandran, a long time Verve contributor, picks up a striking line from the film trailer to get the ball rolling: “What awful creatures we are — no commitment, no aim, no ideology. We are not even feminists.” What, she wonders does feminism look like today? Or are we now post-feminists?

THE CONVERSATION

Feminism

Aparna Sen responds: “The film rises above isms because the concept of feminism has broadened today from being anti-male to including humanism: I’m as interested in equal wages, child trafficking, the plight of working mothers and our growing cultural intolerance. These women are earning well, they don’t answer to anyone, they’ve chosen to remain single. One is in an abusive relationship but she gives back as good as she gets, a feminist would find these women empowered,” she says. Lillete points out the line is said in a moment of total irreverence when the three characters have several drinks under their belt — but isn’t that usually when the truth comes out?

“One of the characters is a woman who kicks butt in the workplace but in her personal life she is falling apart,” says Lillete. Women around the table can empathise with that… She also adds: “When you make a choice to remain single and live your life exactly as you want, you also have to bear the consequences — and there are consequences. Now they are older, these women are facing a life of loneliness maybe with no one to share that whole landscape called old age. Choices go with the courage to lead that life thereafter.”

 

Next: On choices…

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