India Cabaret (TV Movie 1985) - Plot Summary Poster

(1985 TV Movie)


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  • India Cabaret (1985) is a documentary by Mira Nair exploring the "respectable" and "immoral" stereotypes of women in Indian society told from the point of view of 2 strip-tease dancers in a cabaret house in Bombay. There are no voice-overs by either the cabaret dancers nor the men who were interviewed who frequented the cabaret club. Nair explores the marginalized quite often in her films, male and female. This time it is the marginalized women in Bombay who have been cast out because of the 'nature' of their jobs. The women themselves are not ashamed of what they do for a living; what they prize more is the fact that they do not have to be at the mercy of the men in their lives [husbands, brothers, fathers or lovers] as their female peers. They earn their own living, 'decently' ; they are free to come and go as they please and do not have to follow the rules imposed by men or worse society. One of the dancers is offered the opportunity to end her stint at the club and 'clean up' her act; she's offered the 'love' by a man, who promises to take her away, but she refuses. She is content to having her independence and earning her keep. The film also portrays the parallelism of the men who go to see these 'dirty' women dance for their pleasure; the men who pretend o be happily married and decent upright citizens, and who, when interviewed have no qualms about telling the camera how worthless these type of women are.

    The film explores "the double standards of an essentially patriarchal society."

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