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The women in NH10 are a mirror to women in a changing Indian culture, and make it a memorable movie.
What makes a journey so memorable? The recent movie NH10 will answer this question. It was only after I watched this movie that I decoded that it can be a character or characters that could make your journey memorable.
A lot of friends mentioning the movie NH10 their status updates and the great reviews of Anushka’s production debut and her terrific acting were enough to catch my attention, and I watched this one fine night. Interestingly, for me, different shades of feminism have emerged out of this movie. The movie leaves you haunted; it has disturbed me to the extent that I have been subconsciously thinking about the state of fellow-women in our society.
I don’t intend to speak about the technicalities, but I would like to put forth my point of view and interpretation about the existence of different kinds of women in our society.
Note: Some spoilers about the movie plot are included in this post.
The movie opens with a very-much-in-love couple, where Meera – a glamorous, competitive and contemporary woman, catches your attention. A woman who smokes, has her own individuality and freedom; she is also a wife and her husband fully supports her and treats her as an equal. We catch a glimpse of gender equality in this couple. A husband who gifts her a pack of cigarette on her birthday! Now, isn’t that being rather considerate? Considerate, because a husband pays attention to what his wife cherishes. Meera makes you believe that women like her can exist; rustic, yet sophisticated in her own way.
Like every other girl, Pinky wants to study and attend college. She wants the freedom to choose her life partner. Pinky is a college girl from a village in Haryana, one who dared to go to college for higher education and fall in love. She musters her courage and decides to marry the guy she loves, but against her family’s wish. And this goes against her society’s rule book for girls. Pinky stands by her decision and marries her love by eloping, which is bold enough in a village that is under the reign of a khaap-panchayat.
This particular character in the movie has no independent existence and it is evident as she has no name. Satbir’s wife is under the control of her mother-in-law (the Sarpanch, Pinky’s mother) and her husband (Satbir, Pinky’s brother). Probably a character that can’t even decide if she wants to sit, stand, eat, sleep or do anything of her wish; she isn’t allowed to think. She knows that her family is wrong, her mother-in-law is wrong, her husband is unfair, but she chooses to stay there only because she has no place to go!
In a culture such as the one portrayed in the movie, a girl once married cannot go back to her parents, and she decides to suffer or rather, she is left to suffer. It is not a sign of being weak, but of immense strength and determination to live in such a situation where you are beaten for no reason.
What would one expect from a Sarpanch – the head of a village? A Sarpanch is the one who is supposed to have an eye for rational justice for everyone in a village; rich and poor, irrespective of caste, creed and sex. And what would you expect from a woman Sarpanch? One would expect acts of women empowerment, but sadly, the bitter truth is that sometimes, a woman can be a woman’s worst enemy. This powerful lady Sarpanch, in the quest for power, spoils the lives of Meera, Pinky and Satbir’s wife. A woman who could have supported her daughter, but chose to get her daughter killed; she fails to teach her son to respect his wife and sister; in short, this woman never taught her son to respect any woman.
Finally, all these strong characters settle for a raw deal. Meera transforms from an urban sophisticated woman to a wounded woman bent on vengeance on losing her husband. Pinky is killed and so is her husband. Satbir’s wife is widowed, and the Sarpanch loses her faithful son Satbir and rebellious daughter Pinky. It left me disturbed to see how a woman can hurt other women knowingly and unknowingly.
What do we really mean when we say India is developing or moving towards women empowerment? Does it mean that the Meeras are increasing or the Pinkys are evolving, but are chopped off? Or does it mean women like Satbir’s wife are being silenced or that women who suffer through their lives end up being stone-hearted like the Sarpanch? I think someone like the Sarpanch is an outcome of a woman being ill-treated for a long time, to an extent that she grows up imbibing the idea that being wrong and unfair is the right and only way of living.
I think someone like the Sarpanch is an outcome of a woman being ill-treated for a long time, to an extent that she grows up imbibing the idea that being wrong and unfair is the right and only way of living.
I think every woman has to help other women to break these social barriers. We have to be supportive and not judgemental. When we talk about women’s empowerment, all of us as women have to be at the same platform, ready to learn, ready to help each other, and more importantly, ready to change.
On a positive note, if all these women in NH10 had helped each other, their society would have been a much better place to live in.
Pictures from promotional material for the movie.
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