There is no stronger bond than that between two sisters. The love they share is not easy to describe. They fight like worst enemies but their love knows no bounds. In a way Polite Society is a film that highlights the bond between sisters. At the same time, the movie is a stereotypical representation of a Pakistani community with a sinister twist. Well, the film has a lot of old classic songs by Md. Rafi that you can’t miss. Also, the film aesthetic is very apt. The choice of colors from the houses the character lives in and the clothes they wear are all in sync with the tone of the film, especially the situation. The film also beautifully captures the adrenaline rush of teenage years. In a nutshell, the film is fun to watch and although seems a bit too much, sets right in as we watch.
Meet The Khans
Ria and Lena are the famous Khan sisters who are known in the elite Muslim community for their eccentric nature. Lena, the eldest is an art school dropout, who mostly lies in bed and shows prominent signs of anxiety. She overeats and does not follow the decorum she is supposed to. The youngest, Ria, wants to be a stuntwoman, although her teachers believe that she should pursue her career as a doctor. Both sisters are immensely supportive of the other. Ria believes that someday she would be a great stunt woman and her sister would be a famous artist like Eunice Huthart the Stunt double in major Hollywood films. Ria fails to see that her sister is struggling with being ordinary in art. Ria strongly believes that Lena would bounce back with time. Their parents are of course concerned about Ria’s idea and her career choice. However, they do not impose their ideas on their daughters and let them grow as they desire.
However, it is common for Asian families to strive to live up to the standards set by society. Thus, the mother, Fatima, dresses up for the community gathering and takes part in the mindless conversations which generally end up in body shaming, beauty standards, or eligible bachelors or spinsters. The father is mostly a silent spectator who tries to logically tackle controversial topics with his independent daughters. On one occasion, when the sisters get themselves in a nasty fight, drawing blood on each other and almost damaging most of the furniture in their rooms, the parents did not get involved. In a way, it is a contradiction to the popular belief that Asian parents don’t have any boundaries. However, we see the mother excited and thoroughly involved in the affair of Lena and Salim and also manifesting that they tie the knot.
Ria was genuinely against the marriage and she was hell bound to find some dirt on the guy her sister was dating. She believed that Salim would treat Lena as a trophy wife and will murder her passion for art. She vehemently opposed the idea of the two getting together and took it upon herself to break the two up.
Meet The Buchas
Raheela Bucha is the most prominent widow in their polite society. She is crazy rich and has an eligible bachelor son Salim who wants to set up his own lab where he would treat babies and mothers. Raheela is a way can be compared to Maleficent. Her body language, choice of words, and how she greets clearly states that she believes she is superior to anyone she mingles with. For her son Salim, she had arranged a meeting with almost all the eligible spinsters in her community, yet Salim has not found his match. Salim was the perfect son. He was obedient, kind, polite, and helpful. Also, he was doing a favour to society by setting up a lab that would take care of pregnant women. He was also very popular among girls. On the occasion of the Eid soiree, he finally connected with Lena and the two instantly hit it off.
It was weird how Raheela handed over iron tablets to Lena after her son informed her that Lena had stained his bed. That morning, before Lena woke up to find she had begun menstruating and there was blood all over Salim’s bed, he had a dream or a vision where she saw herself in a laboratory and Salim performing tests on her. But, the mother-son duo behaved very openly which reassured Lena that they were open-minded people, who did not mind discussing issues that the society otherwise considers a taboo. However, behind the mask of kindness and sophistication, the Buchas had sinister motives.
Khans Vs Buchas
Ria was dead against the idea that her sister is engaged to a man like Salim and was ignoring her career as an artist. Also, she was scared that her sister would move away from her and she would lose her biggest support system. Also, she was genuinely concerned about the guy her sister was about to marry. Although, Ria left no stone unturned to prevent the marriage from taking place. Unfortunately, all her plans failed. Finally, when she broke and entered Bucha’s house to plant a trap to dampen Salim’s image, she was caught. This made her family, especially her sister turn cold against her. Ria finally thought of giving up her endeavours to prevent the marriage. As a token of apology, she carried food to Bucha’s house and apologised to Raheela.
Raheela welcomed Ria inside and told her to enjoy a spa day with her. However, the spa session was like a torture session. Ria understood that Raheela had other motives to make sure the marriage takes place. Also, Raheela openly challenged Ria to try and prevent the wedding for she would not let her succeed. This spa session of taking cuticle care or having a waxed body was interesting to watch. The intense music felt as if the spa was a symbol of mental and physical torture implemented on Ria to give up her plans to ruin the wedding. It was suggestive of the fact of a careful gangster operation. However, Ria escaped the torture room and locked herself in what appeared to be like the store room. The voice of Raheela echoed throughout the place and as Ria tried to find an escape route, she found a secret lab. Ria could not believe what she saw. There was a database for every young woman who walked into the Bucha house on the Eid soiree. The computers stored information about their reproduction system and their physical attributes. Ria found that Lena’s database says that she had the perfect womb. She instantly knew, there was a sinister motive behind Salim marrying Lena. She broke a window and escaped the hellhouse.
After running back to her family, she tried to tell her mother that something about the wedding was not right and they should call it off. But, Ria’s behaviour in the past seemed out of normal and her mother believed that she was having difficulty as a teenager. Fatima told Ria that she thinks Ria needs therapy and she would send her away to get things straight and would stop her from weaving scenarios in her head. Ria knew there was no way her family would support her or believe her. So, she had to ask her friends, Alba and Clara to help her. Although in the initial days when Ria wanted to sabotage the wedding, she had Clara and Alba helping her. But, as she failed she misbehaved with them and they weren’t on talking terms for some time.
However, when Ria told the duo about what she found out, they readily agreed to help her. Also, another girl, Kovacs, who used to bully Ria was involved in the plan. They planned to use chloroform on Lena and kidnap her from her wedding.
The Wedding Shenanigans
On the day of the wedding, Ria was closely monitored by Raheela. Ria had prepared a dance performance for the wedding day. Ria found out that there was a guard appointed to protect Lena, thus making their plan to kidnap Lena tougher. Ria danced to the iconic Bollywood song “Maar Dala” from the film Devdas. The dance in this song was originally by Madhuri Dixit. The lyrics of the song in this particular film sequence had a very different and intense meaning. Soon after, we came face to face with the sinister motives of Raheela and Salim. Raheela had sacrificed a lot to raise her son and Salim wanted to form plant a clone of her mother as a gesture of acknowledging her sacrifices. A fight broke out, and everyone went crazy. However, Ria’s friend helped Ria and Lena to escape. The sisters finally reconciled and the best thing that happened to Ria was she was asked out on a brunch by her idol.
‘Polite Society’ Ending
The ending of the film has numerous symbols. The first one is the dance that Ria performed. The colour that is mentioned in the song is green, Ria was wearing a green costume. Green is often used to describe something poisonous and also is suggestive of a revengeful act. Bot of which stands true. Also, we see toxicity and gender inequality often unknowingly passed down to the son by a mother. A mother who had faced the pangs of patriarchy wants to beat it by sabotaging the life of another woman. The director, Nida Manzoor, also points out how women are considered perfect for having a perfect womb, suggesting that society considers women as child-producing machines. While the director, on the one hand, brought out the negativities of society, she also highlighted how women can stick together and fight them. The girl gang of Ria is the prime example of a woman supporting other women, a mother choosing violence to protect the life of her daughter. Furthermore, a supporting sister, who fights against all odds to protect the other.
The film highlights women as both powerful, weak, vicious, and loving. In a nutshell, the film is a celebration of womanhood, that also shares some insights about everyday life in a comical setting.