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Fatafati A Charming Take On Body Shaming




Fatafati (Bengali, Now Running In Kolkata & Other Centres)

Rating: ***

Nobody dies in Fatafati, director Aritra Mukherjee’s  take  on  the cringy culture of  do-or-diet body contouring whereby women must not  only watch the calories, they must starve themselves, if needed, to  fit into their Size 0  clothes.

Ritabhari Chakraborty, laden with those extra pounds to play the housewife Phullora, is  at once the victim and the dreamer  who tailors beautiful  blouses  while her outspoken  but not mean  mother-in-law smirks, “What is the point  making beautiful blouses when you can’t wear them?”

This brings us to the other point which the film so pointedly raises: do women have to be of  a particular shape  and  size to wear beautiful clothes?

 All this could have been much more effective had the  narrative avoided  exaggerations. Regrettably every edifying idea  is  over-punctuated , every good deed done is  douched in silent applause.

 In yet another restrained and  effective performance Abir Chatterjee plays the supportive “liberal” husband who encourages  his  repressed wife to flower  into her own.

Abir’s “nobility” has  a certain retro-mobility. He will remind you of many such liberal men from the past Bengali cinema including Soumitra Chatterjee in Satyajit Ray’s Charulata.

Abir plays Bachaspati,a salesperson  in a clothes store who counts pennies , loves his wife  and is largehearted  enough to “allow” her to do what she likes.

The  fatshaming theme is  peppered with some raucous  women’s kitty-party sequences  where every shapeless housewife  comes with her own woes  and  laughs  them off  with  fish fry and tea.

At times one gets  the  feeling that the  director is trying to cram in too of his  “liberalism” into a lightweight film. There is  a particularly  awful  sequence where  the  slim diet-friendly  bomb next door(Swastika Dutta) humiliates  Phullora in public  . The  sequence goes on and on with each passing jibe hitting an embarassing offkey note.

By the time Phullora triumphs  all  prejudice on the ramp the film seems like  propaganda for  plus-size clothes, albeit in the  guise of  an  elegantly set up fairytale that offends none, not even bodyshamers.

By the way, do you know of any  autorickshaw driver who  refuses a passenger for being overweight? Fatafati  gives us this  weirdo who should be shamed for such low-level bodyshaming.

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