Dear Zindagi, through its nuanced character Kaira, played by Alia Bhatt, truly gets what its like to be a 20-something young Indian woman today. Here’s why.
As a young Indian woman in her twenties, the idea of her self worth being defined by marriage and her ability to get ‘good’ proposals by virtue of being a quiet,’ fair’ and ‘beautiful’ young girl is drilled into her from the get go; if not your parents then through some other entitled relative, but the idea will definitely worm its way into your head.
Watching the recent Alia Bhatt soul tickler Dear Zindagi was like seeing some chapters of my life being etched on the silver screen. I am sure every 20 year old watching the movie would have identified with parts, if not the whole of the well defined character that Alia Bhatt plays (Kaira).
The therapist played by Shah Rukh Khan (Jug) would possibly be a dream version of a therapist but there are pearls of wisdom that you feel you could have heard sooner especially when as a young girl you are put through a blender of societal expectations, with your career, your sexuality and your worth placed into small non-negotiable boxes that you are supposed to tick according to a predetermined time line.
For a young Indian girl who has completed her education and possibly foraying into a career if her guardians so desire, the pressure to also toe the line of being a virginal, non-sexual, non-romantic but willing to magically submit to her husband is huge.
It is confusing at the very least because your life partner cold be an individual that you are not supposed to select, and this is detrimental to where your life is headed. This is more so for young women than for men as it has the potential to decide everything from what you will wear for the rest of your life to where you will live and what opportunities you can explore. Imagine living inside such a pressure cooker of expectations!
The scene where Kaira’s brother picks her up from the beach promenade as she storms out of the house after having a breakdown in front of her parents and relatives touches very close to home. However, the realization that parents are just people who are bowing down to peer pressure and expectations is a realization that both Kaira and yours truly arrived at after some pain. Also the realization that your sibling, no matter how wacky, can be a shoulder for you as he/she ‘gets’ you, having shared the same set of parents.
Another noteworthy scene is the dream sequence that shows Kaira being ridiculed by married women. This is a very nuanced and well thought out scene as it echoes with many young girls who are convinced by society everyday that their true worth is determined by the partner they marry. Their career, their talent is all secondary to that. So much so that women working towards the perfect marriage and their future husband is normalized in the stories we read and the images we see around us.
The movie tugs at the heart strings of any young woman who is at the phase where there is no long term romantic prospect in sight but feels that her entire future rides on this one mystery man who will define her entire being. Which brings me to another pearl of wisdom that the movie throws open which is, why should this one relationship bear the burnt of so many other relationships all rolled into one such that the expectations out of this one relationship are debilitating from the start?
The film is a positive heart-rending honest story and finally, a movie made through the female lens. (Goa visitors playing kabaddi with the sea is the only negative that I find as an afterthought, just like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai gave us girls with head bands storming basket ball courts!)
Top image via hdwallpapers.in