In his new film, Gujarat-born French filmmaker Pan Nalin, best known for his exotic Buddhism drama Samsara, turns his attention to Indian Women Power. Angry Indian Goddesses, billed as “India’s first female buddy movie”, features the best kind of feminists – sexy ones. As the film unfolds, one of them observes that “to be a woman in this country [India], you need to be a warrior”. Of course, it helps if you are at least photogenic to begin with.

Frieda (Sarah-Jane Dias) is getting married and her nuptials bring together an excitable woot-wooting set of friends, each of whom represents a Problem. Suranjana (Sandhya Mridul) is an overstretched corporate mom, Madhurita (Anushka Manchanda) is a depressed singer, Joanna (Amrit Maghera) wants to make it in Bollywood, Pamela (Pavleen Gujral) is a reluctant wife and Nargis (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is a fiery activist.

All these women are liberal and deracinated Indians who switch between Hindi and English with ease, so there is a representative of the toiling masses to complete the picture of sisterhood: Freida’s spitfire maid, Lakshmi (Rajshri Deshpande).

It might seem like heavy-going, but the movie’s setting (a corner of not-quite-Indian Goa), the lissome ladies, their easy banter and believable camaraderie ensures that it's all quite breezy. The males are only tokens, including Anju Choudhary, a dishy car washer who appears to have walked out of a commercial for a brand of French perfume. Angry Indian Goddesses is attuned to the small and large anxieties that grip the affluent¸ but it is blind to the economic divisions that force car washers and maids to look and dress in a particular way.

Let’s have dinner and a debate

Other signs indicate that this movie is aimed at a global audience that has read all the bad news about Indian women but still wants to get to Goa. The locals are mostly absent, except for an embarrassingly clunky appearance by a toothless crone. The movie includes contrived mealtime debates around the issues that have made headlines around the world in recent years, such as the 2012 gang-rape in Delhi, and the depictions of Bollywood, which Joanna badly wants to be a part of, are from three decades ago. The significance of the Hindu goddesses that these women are supposed to represent is also helpfully explained.

Though the movie has been shot in a fashionably jittery, hand-held style, and the overlapping conversations and rapid-fire editing suggest momentum and purpose, the 120-minute running time is a stretch. Since the movie has saddled each of its female characters with a Problem, it feels duty-bound to address every one of them. The conceit of being a non-formulaic movie that examines Indian social problems in a realistic manner blows up in the preposterous climax, which faithfully follows the scripting rule book that a gun in the first scene must be fired by the end.

The strongest moments are the less showy and self-conscious ones, such as a heartfelt chat between Pamela and Madhurita over the pressures Pamela faces to have a baby. The movie is barely convincing as a feminist tract, and less so because of its quick-fix and fantastical analysis of the Indian woman’s condition. But the actresses are always watchable and convincing, especially Mridul, Dias and Gujral.