TIFF 2023: Thank You for Coming is a Fun Ode to Female Pleasure

Starring Bhumi Pednekar, the film focuses on a woman trying to find the man with whom she had an orgasm
TIFF 2023: Thank You for Coming is a Fun Ode to Female Pleasure

Director: Karan Boolani

Writer: Radhika Anand, Prashasti Singh

Cast: Bhumi Pednekar, Shehnaaz Gill, Pradhuman Singh, Dolly Ahluwalia, Natasha Rastogi, Shibani Bedi, Dolly Singh, Saloni Daini, Sushant Divgikar, Gautmik, Kusha Kapila, Ayesha Raza, Karan Kundrra, Anil Kapoor

Runtime: 116 mins

One day Kanika Kapoor (Bhumi Pednekar) verbalises the truth she’s never said out loud to anyone: she’s never had an orgasm. It’s not an uncommon experience for men to orgasm and assume that the woman they just had sex with had one too - a prime example of how often a woman’s sexual desires, pleasures, and satisfaction go unacknowledged. Then one night, at her own engagement party, she orgasms but can’t quite remember which guy had given her an orgasm. A hilarious Mamma Mia-style chase ensues to track him down.

I could not imagine a film like Thank You For Coming being released even a few years ago, so on that level alone it is incredibly refreshing to see a sex-positive comedy focused on a woman’s sexual desires. The script is layered with an understanding of how the heteronormative and patriarchal notions of sex and pleasure that we grow up with are ingrained into us from childhood, driven deeper in adolescence, and in adulthood those of us who aren’t straight men have to navigate an element of our existence that’s always been coated in shame and a sense of not just the forbidden, but dangerous.

A still from Thank You For Coming
A still from Thank You For Coming

In that shame there is also a reality that you are going to be screwed either way. If you hold onto the strict “morality” that tells women and queers that sex outside of a straight marriage, then you’re a prude, boring, unworthy of being approached or attention. If you don’t, then you’re a slut, a whore, someone who will bring shame upon everyone she’s associated with because of how sociopathic society can be about sex.

The film’s biggest misstep comes late in the third act, where, like so many other films, it feels the need to have a third-act fight or conflict when it’s simply unnecessary. The audience knows as soon as the fight happens that it will resolve by the film’s end and therefore the entire sequence feels deeply trite and manufactured. It also relies on upending what we know about two supporting characters and so, so it doesn’t even work on an emotional level.

But overall Thank You For Coming is a hilarious, heartfelt, and engaging film about untangling Desi society’s fixation on the sexual pleasures of straight men. It’s almost two hours but rarely feels like it, flying past you like a breeze and for the majority of the time, pausing to take a contemplative moment and letting the humanity of its characters breathe. We have to find ourselves, believe in ourselves, and learn how to centre ourselves, the film says, and that is something all of us would do well to remember.

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