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Considered as among the most fiercely feminist Hindi movies, Mirch Masala is a poignant take on patriarchy, casteism, and mostly women resistance. Set in Colonial India, the movie featured Smita Patil and Naseeruddin Shan in the lead roles. Smita Patil's role as a bold and intelligent village woman in the movie, is regarded as one of the finest performances of hers. Naseeruddin Shah, is the unapologetic antagonist in the movie, who portrays tyranny and toxic masculinity with his eyes set on Sonbai (Smita Patil). With their performances as the strong village lady and exploitative subedar, Smita Patil and Naseeruddin Shah offered the viewers a vivid narration of a woman's self-worth and a man's fragile ego.
Shot in the arid Kutch landscape, the film is a significant movie of parallel cinema, and as you watch the movie, you would also find how stunningly movie highlights the textile sensibility of Kutch. Red - the hue that symbolizes so many facets of human nature and is also the colour of chilli powder (Mirch Masala), is the dominant hue in the movie. Smita Patil's lehenga-cholis in the movie are mainly accentuated by deep red with vibrant yellow and pink colour-blocks. Archana Shah is the costume designer of the film, and her keen understanding of vast design vocabulary of the country, helped give Smita Patil, the look of a typical woman in Kutch area. So, not only red hue but the intricate mirror-work in her low-back blouses splashed in the bright colours, traditional bandhani work, and embroidered accents can be seen on her outfits. Also, the way odhani is styled is reminiscent of Gujarati culture.
Apart from her outfits, the movie celebrates maximalist fashion with elaborate haars and heavy earrings that the late actress is seen sporting effortlessly, as the frames change. Her look in the movie also made us realise how much more emphasis had been given to dark kohl as compared to lip shades. Mirch Masala is the movie for those who are interested in characterization, want to study social structure, and learn about the region's fashion.
Pictures Courtesy: NFDC (National Film Development Corporation of India)