[As shown in the 2016 movie Neerja]
Probably the producer of the movie Neerja wouldn’t have got a better opportunity than releasing this movie around a time when the entire nation is divided on Nationalism row. When people are finding their heroes in Umar Khalid and Afzal Guru and when feminists are slammed big time for supporting separatists who made a martyr out of Indian parliament attacker, the story of Neerja Bhanot came as a celebration for them. The story of a female Braveheart who had made her country proud, not only helps feminists in an image makeover but also bolsters their claims of women oppression in many ways.
While not debunking her sacrifice and accepting a challenge from my feminist readers to write an honest review of the film, I would still say the movie Neerja is not about feminism at all.
However, surprising it may sound, the movie has all feminism elements intact. An alleged dowry torture by Indian husband in a foreign land, the wife not getting respect in her family because of dowry, a broken marriage, woman’s expression of choice of job and the deadliest one – three pilots leaving 300 passengers and crew members in a situation of emergency to force a woman die. So it may transpire that Neerja Bhanot who was a simple Sanskari Indian woman with all feminine qualities, could not sustain the torture of her husband but did everything to fight with dreaded terrorists. Some feminists may cheer this to conclude that husbands are most deadly terrorists in a woman’s life that women can’t sustain.
No, I am not here to demean her sacrifice in any manner. Many of us could have failed to rise up to the occasion like she did. But while my feminist critics boast about her courage as a true representation of feminism, I would like to humbly disagree with them while accepting their challenge of writing an honest unpaid review of the film.
If we look at Neerja’s life when she was married to a rich NRI in Qatar and was allegedly abused there she went back to her parent’s house and her parents accepted her back in their family. No, unlike popular feminist stories her parents didn’t force her to join her husband. They accepted her decision to get separated from her husband. Her mother might have initially tried to convince her to rejoin her husband in Doha, but she accepted her decision easily. A typical feminist family would have taken revenge or filed some extra cases on the distant in-laws as well. Neerja didn’t do that. While she protested the abuse she was not a violent avenger.
I know, my feminist readers will think that this is a typical male chauvinist mindset that says women should be submissive etc. and should forget about abuses to them. But this is how many men are also forgetting the cruelties of their wives without having any recourse. Men just forget those abuses as bad dreams, that’s all.
Feminists will also boast about her decision to carry out professions of being a model and a purser in an American Airliner. They will say this freedom of choice is a dream for many women even today and we are talking about ‘80s India. Here shows the lies feminists have been telling the world about India, that Indian women never had freedom of choice. A supporting Bhanot family shows the lies feminists have been telling the world about choices of Indian women.
It was also a good observation to make that after her first break up, her family not only accepted her but also didn’t force a new guy on her. She was made to choose her own life ahead.
The airplane incident of pilots leaving the cockpit on being warned about a hijack (which was originally said in code words as the records say) also brings cheers to feminists’ faces. When the protector males escaped, a woman stood up to handle terrorists. Any feminist would love to bring the wage gap theory here and would boast that a less paid female crew member has done more than highly paid senior male members. But I do not see any cowardice in the pilots’ act. More than bravery it was the right thing to do at that point in time, else the pilots could have been forced to fly the plane to Cyprus, leading to release of other members of terrorists’ gang from prison. The reason elaborate discussion and negotiation took place between the Pak authorities and the terrorists was that there was no trained pilot among the terrorists to fly the aircraft safely.
Coming to the point that Neerja saved many passengers’ lives and finally laid down her life is another example that shows her story is not about feminism at all. Any feminist would have been averse to the idea of saving all passengers’ lives and would have demanded safe escape routes for themselves first. But opportunists always show all good examples from their gender to show how great they are. So while these opportunist feminists show examples of Neerja Bhanot’s sacrifice, and talk about wage gap in the profession (don’t be surprised if now they want equal pay with pilots for cabin crew as well). This is the same theory that was floated by feminists to show the dedication of women who selflessly give 40-50 years of their life to get property rights for every married/divorced woman (50% property rights in husband’s property sought in IrBM).
The movie left us crying, at least weeping with the pains of Neerja Bhanot and her family. The excruciating pain that her mother was going through while taking her coffin brought tears in all of us and that is when she told us the last message from her daughter – “I hate tears”. I remembered Madhuri Dixit’s Vogueempower video that said: “Boys are taught from childhood that Boys Don’t Cry and that is what makes them hold their emotions and gradually they become women abusers”. In this movie, this was used to show how strong she was but unfortunately, this again debunked the feminist theory that holding one’s emotions makes oneself cruel.
There is no way I can tell that she was not a brave woman. Neerja Bhanot will be an inspiration for many. This was probably a good time for the movie to be released because we Indians need to know what sacrifice really is, we really need to know what is not feminism and why the story of Neerja Bhanot, the Pan Am purser is not about feminism. This is how our women used to be. Probably feminists need to learn good lessons from her as well.
And my dear feminist readers, so far I have praised her for bravery shown in the movie, but looks like it is not all true –
For other movie reviews, see – here