In this segment of our Colossus Movie Guide for Polite Society, we delve into the significance of the film’s title.
- Ria Khan – Priya Kansara
- Lena Khan – Ritu Arya
- Fatima Khan – Shobu Kapoor
- Rafe Khan – Jeff Mirza
- Raheela – Nimra Bucha
- Salim – Akshay Khanna
- Clara – Seraphina Beh
- Alba – Ella Bruccoleri
- Kovacs – Shona Babayemi
- Eunice Huthart – Eunice Huthart
- Written by – Nida Manzoor
- Directed by – Nida Manzoor
Why is the movie called Polite Society?
“Polite society” is a euphemism that borders on idiom. It can simply refer to the upper class of people. But it can go beyond and refer specifically to concerns of behavior and etiquette. For example, polite society expects you to put a napkin on your lap when you eat dinner. If you’re in polite society, you probably don’t mention a fight you had with a family member. Instead, you keep the conversation light and fun.
With that in mind, we should expect Polite Society to involve ideas of social class, tradition, and social expectation. And that’s exactly what we see. Ria’s family is middle to upper-middle class. While the antagonist, Raheela, is exceptionally wealthy. Ria wants to go against the grain and be the best stuntwoman in the world. Of course she’s devastated at the thought of her sister, Lena, leaving behind the career of an artist to take a much more traditional path of marrying a rich man. And then the antagonist is Raheela, the embodiment of polite society—a socialite who is influential, focused on being a mom, and following classic traditions of setting her son up for marriage.
Ria and Raheela are on two ends of the spectrum. Ria represents youth and rebellion and individuality. While Raheela symbolizes the establishment and the traditional expectations for a woman in this society. Lena ends up torn between the two. At first, Lena’s aligned with Ria. But a crisis of faith in herself and her path causes her to seek comfort in the traditional, in Raheela and her son Salim. The battle between Ria and Raheela for Lena becomes a battle between a progressive view of women versus a conventional one.
The kicker is that Raheela is only using Lena. That’s because Raheela never got to forge her own path. Whatever dreams she had got pushed aside by marriage and parenthood. She had her equivalent of wanting to be a stuntwoman. Lena is a means to produce a Raheela clone that will get to live a progressive, individualistic life rather than a more conservative, sacrificing one. Like before, we can step back and view this as metaphorical, as commentary on clashes between older and younger generations. Something that is incredibly relevant in the political landscape 2023.
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