This Women’s Day watchlist will have you inspired, cheering and asking, “Who’s cutting onions?”
Ariel has curated a selection of films and TV shows that embody the #SeeEqual message on Disney+ Hotstar
Despite being an adult Indian woman who’s never been to Hawaii, I felt a kinship with Moana from the minute the infectious title track began. Having grown up in Goa, I too feel a spiritual connection with the sea. I’ve also climbed trees in skirts like a gender-bender Mowgli. And just like Moana, when I made known my ambition of leaving home to chase my destiny, everyone freaked out. Girls are expected to stay close to their roots —ambitious enough to become self-sufficient but not so ambitious as to become truly independent. I was also the only family member in my generation, girl or boy, who left the cocoon I was raised in. Strangely, it wasn’t my parents who raised objections, but everybody else, as if by veering off the normal course of action, I was inadvertently questioning the patriarchal Jenga that had been so carefully stacked.
There was some truth to their fears, no doubt. Slipping the leash gave me the opportunity to see that cocoon from a distance, and question many of the practices that I had, thus far, gone along with myself. The tendency to call out to my mother, asking where my socks/ keys/ important documents were. The tradition that says when a guest comes over, the women flock to the kitchen to prepare while the men sit and entertain. The idea that a woman’s time is a currency less valuable than a man’s.
Ariel’s new short film (which you can watch here) felt like a documentary, especially the moment where the woman is promising to send an email in five minutes, but her husband decides it’s the perfect time to visit the new neighbours for a cup of chai. What’s heartening in the film is that when realisation dawns, the woman speaks up, forcing her husband to face his patriarchal conditioning and unconscious bias. We realise she’s not going to settle for second place on the podium any longer, her time and priorities are equally important.
To drive the #SeeEqual message even further this Women’s Day, Ariel India has curated a selection of movies and shows that break the bias by avoiding stereotypical representation of female characters. The special Women’s Day playlist is on Disney+ Hotstar, created in partnership with Akshara Centre, an NGO working towards gender equality and challenging stereotypes.
Expertly chosen to suit a variety of moods and ages, the list features my personal favourites Moana and He Named Me Malala, along with hard-hitting titles like Chhapaak, Pink and Aarya. These films and shows celebrate women in all their complexity, instead of limiting them to two-dimensional characters for visual relief.
With the belief that representation can either reinforce or challenge stereotypes, this is an initiative from Ariel to promote progressive content for families to take inspiration from.
So invite your family and friends over for a pyjamas-and-popcorn party, with a healthy dose of gender equality. Don’t forget to keep a box of tissues handy, you know, just in case someone starts cutting onions…