Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana celebrates female friendships in all of their messy glory.
The film does not explain how the women know each other (three are around the same age, and thus could know each other from school or similar but the fourth friend is much older), but they clearly have a long, rich history, full of in-jokes and love. Their conversations largely revolve around relationships, but family and children take a back seat, with the action focused on the women.
The film opens on Kanika’s (Kim Sharma) wedding. She jokes with Natasha (Vasundara Des) and Mayuri (Rekha) about whether Anjali (Mahima Chaudry) will show up in a daring new outfit. Anjali does, explaining she hates losing bets; she later bets her friends that she can get the wedding guests dancing, and wins that, too.
Side note, each character gets a slide in the opening credits with actor and character’s name and some info about them. My name is also Natasha and I feel called out:
Mayuri had asked Anjali when she would marry, and she swore not before 25. Anjali pointed out that Mayuri has been married four times, Kanika married the first man she dated, and Natasha’s sex life with her husband has fizzled. Tired of Anjali’s bet, Mayuri suggests they trick her into marry before she turns 25.
That reads as quite sinister, but the plot is more light-hearted in the movie. I think it helps that divorce is accepted in the movie’s reality, so if Anjali is tricked into getting married, she’ll be able to leave.
The three friends each find candidates that reflect their own interests. Meanwhile, Anjali happens to meet a man, Amar (Ashmit Patel), on her own and they quickly form a strong connection, including a steamy song montage.
But as must happen, Anjali learns her friends’ true intentions. She points out that the men they chose are perfect for them, not her. Her friends claim they want to see her happy and married, but do not actually take her into account as an individual.
Anjali had been excited to learn Amar was going to propose, but she thinks he was also put up to it. Mayuri claims she chose him. Anjali tearfully replies she has lost everything, her friends and Amar.
Kanika and Natasha try to set things right with Amar. They ask Mayuri to join them, and she explains she can’t bear to see them happy, “to see you having what I want.” She has jumped from marriage to marriage, has no children, and even though her current husband loves her, she treats him as a diversion.
I found this scene strangely compelling. “Woman realizing she’s missing out by not having husband/children” is incredibly common in romantic comedies. But Mayuri is much older (Rekha was 52 when Kudiyon was released) and realizes what she has missed out; she admits her regrets. But she realizes what she does have: a loving husband and loving friends. She has let her regrets dictate her life, but she also realizes that she can still make changes. Women’s movies also often have the message of “make the best of a bad situation.” Mayuri realizes that she’s not actually in a bad situation, not if she puts the work in.
Mayuri tells Anjali the truth, and Anjali agrees to forgive her–if Mayuri agrees to give her marriage a real chance. And indeed, we see Mayuri reach out to her husband and a stronger relationship grow between the two.
Amar asks Anjali if she’s willing to marry him and lose her bet. She agrees. The ceremony is set for the day before her 25th birthday. And in turn, Amar delays until it is after midnight. And so everyone is happily married and happily friends again.
Side note: Natasha spends much of the movie pregnant, and it’s while she’s in labor that Anjali first learns of their plot. But the baby is never shown on screen and Natasha is back at the salon with everyone else the next day. I love that the movie acknowledges an important part of many women’s lives, and then also ignores it as much as possible.
The movie also experiments with sound and color, not always successfully. At time, the sound is manipulated so that certain characters are louder than others, which simply results in difficulty hearing what is being said. Some scenes are washed out, others over-saturated to emphasize dialogue or the soundtrack. A few moments are highlighted with cartoons. Unfortunately, these gimmicks largely detract from the action.
While the actors convincingly play friends with a long history, the dialogue is often cliche-heavy. At one point, Mayuri actually says “wake up and smell the coffee.” The actors and basic plot are enjoyable; a tighter script with more original dialogue would turn this from an average movie into a good movie.
Overall, the Kudiyon doesn’t have any amazing feminist insights. It focuses on heterosexual relationships and insists all women should be married. But the focus on female relationships is refreshing, and moments of real honesty break through. All-in-all a pleasant few hours.