The Feisty Indian Aunty Watches… Cinderella

Dept. of Aunty Analysis


Hello everyone. It is I, your Feisty Indian Aunty who just watched a very modern take on Cinderella. Now, I know what you might be thinking. Why is this old woman spending her time watching fairly tales musicals? But let it be known, right here and right now, that I have watched every musical every put on screen – big and small – from the late 1950s until today. I watched Singin’ in the Rain and A Star is Born (I love Barbara Streisand) on the big screen. I know all the words to all of the songs in The King and I, and Grease, and The Sound of Music. And I’ve seen The Phantom of the Opera three times. More recently, I’ve also really enjoyed Moulin Rouge, Mamma Mia, and Frozen (2 more than 1).

But I digress! Let’s get back to this musical. Which is, as you’ve probably guessed from a fairy tale released in 2021, Cinderella with a twist. There is, of course, a young girl with dreams. We’ve got a tough, but reasonable King who wants his son to take over the crown. There’s also a Princess who will make a much better queen, but alas, the law of the land is the law of primogeniture where the eldest son always inherits the crown. All of the same ingredients are there, but there is just enough of a difference in this movie to make it interesting. Even refreshing.


All of us know the story of Cinderella and this version tries hard to speak to our modern sensibilities. The message here is that girls can have dreams too, they can be the masters of their own destiny, and that doesn’t need to involve finding a prince, getting married, and living happily ever after in a fancy castle.

Being a “Royal” is no walk in the park. You have to “learn the trade.” You have to be well behaved at all times. You can never let your guard down. You can’t doze off at a boring function. Someone is always looking to take an incriminating photo of you and sell it to the highest bidder. (Do you remember what happened to the brilliant woman who married the current Emperor of Japan? She had her dreams crushed by the Royal Court.)

This take on Cinderella was incredibly funny. The cast was amazing (Minnie Driver! Pierce Brosnan!), and Camila Cabello in particular was oozing charm and charisma. It may not have been the “best” musical I’ve seen, but the way that Kay Cannon has adapted this story makes it incredibly relevant. There is an important message here for young girls and it is one that bears repeating. Over and over again.

The Cinderella in this move is no fool. She was never going to give up on her dreams. Even when the easy option presented itself to her on a silver platter. She was smart and savvy. She makes decisions based on what she wants and how it would affect her happiness and wellbeing.


But the thing that made this version of Cinderella work was that it wasn’t at all cynical about love or the idea of a happily ever after. This isn’t a rebellious tale, but rather one that makes a more nuanced dissection of the fairy tale and its underlying message.

When adapting fairy tales like this one for a 21st century palate, the easy approach would be to push hard in the opposite direction. “Princesses are anti-feminist.” “Bah humbug to love!” “Down with the patriarchy!” Cinderella doesn’t do that. It has fun with all of those ideas before going on to reinterpret our notion of what “happily ever after” actually means.

It isn’t just one way or another. There can exist a happy balance, when both sides realize that there are, in fact, solutions in which everyone wins.

Harry and Meghan take note.

Cinderella is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video

You can read all The Feisty Indian Aunty’s previous columns here.

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