Changing India’s Perception of a Kitty Party Through ‘Sharmaji Namkeen'
In 'Sharmaji Namkeen', the kitty parties become a space for the women and Sharmaji to truly be themselves.
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Conceptually, a kitty party is a simple idea— women get together and use their own funds to help each other out, host parties, and just have fun. But it’s much more complex— a kitty party group is often born out of necessity, perhaps for an outlet and a space of their own.
A kitty party is not something Indian cinema or TV has never explored— it was a common occurrence in the hit show Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chasmah, there have been multiple films involving groups of women who have formed a kitty. But Sharmaji Namkeen takes this a step further and uses the setting of the kitty parties to demystify the idea of a kitty party itself.
The film gives a nod to the preconceived notions about a kitty party through its main character itself. The first time Sharmaji caters for the women, including Veena Manchanda (Juhi Chawla) and Manju Gulati (Sheeba Chaddha), he runs away after his job, aghast at the idea of having worked at a ‘kitty’.
There are numerous sketches online about kitty parties being places were women crib about their husbands and their mothers-in-law and gossip. Sharmaji Namkeen shows what a kitty party is actually about— camaraderie.
The women dance to ‘Baby Doll’ and have the time of their lives, but they also encourage the youngest of them all to start her own business. The women in the group come from varying age groups and professions. There is one particularly powerful scene where some of the women talk about how they couldn’t pursue their careers because of their husbands and his families.
Sharmaji bursts in with a tirade about how they shouldn’t have to take permission from anybody, reflecting his own frustration of an argument he has with his son on the same lines.
The women in the kitty party in Sharmaji Namkeen eat and drink (and sneak in alcohol) and talk about topics from family to even sex in a very matter-of-fact fashion—the film never shames these women for who they are instead making a point to highlight that these are just a group of women enjoying their lives and talking about things that affect them; something I’ve rarely seen mainstream cinema do.
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Topics: Sharmaji Namkeen Rishi Kapoor Juhi Chawla
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