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The new posters of movie Mission Mangal raise the question of how women can manage science like men but is that the only talking point about female scientists?
Mission Mangal is one movie that is all set to release today, on 15th of August. Despite being a movie that is about women who led the very famous and successful Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) by ISRO, Mission Mangal has also been is in the news for being a movie that seems to be more about a man who is leading these women.
First it was their poster that sparked several controversies because noted female actors like Vidya Balan and Taapsee Pannu were clubbed together on one side while Akshay Kumar’s face shone on its own on the other side.
Next, the trailer failed to impress me (and many others too). There were several expectations from the trailer to show how women actually conducted the mission full of confidence and zeal. The trailer failed to deliver this message and instead reduced the women to mere characters full of self-doubt and apprehension about their job.
Amidst these confused and low self-esteem women emerges the unstoppable male hero, Akshay Kumar. This male hero teaches them his I-can-conquer-the-world attitude and thus becomes their man-saviour by teaching them how everything is possible.
There is also one more important thing to notice that not only is Akshay Kumar’s character given a much bigger role than the real-life counterpart it was based on, it also changed his background to North Indian, for no apparent reason.
Now they released the latest posters for the film’s promotion where Akshay Kumar’s character on the one-half side is described by the word ‘bachelor’ and the other half side is described with the word ‘of science’.
The issue is that in a similar poster Vidya Balan’s character on one side is described with the word ‘home’ and on the other side it’s described using the word ‘science’.
The fact that a lot of women manage both their house and their work is worth appreciation indeed. Still, the question here is that why must the focus for a woman be on her home skills while balancing work while for men it’s just the work front?
Why can’t the home be used to describe a man? Because after all if he is a bachelor he is still managing his house. He’s balancing work and home together.
Now, this kind of practice of associating home skills and balance of work with women and vice versa with men is not new. Even in our own very households, it has always been our mothers who manage the house and the household work.
In working women’s families, it is always the woman who is expected to take care of the house while going to work and coming back and cooking and taking care of the kids. Several women are asked by their families to quit their jobs after marriage. People often say to these women, ‘bahu bahar kaam karegi to ghar kaun sambhalega?’ (If my daughter-in-law will work then who will manage the house?)
At the same time, men who participate in household chores or who quit their jobs to become househusbands are still not accepted by the society. They are less manly or ‘joru ka gulam’.
We never tend to look into the very fact that there is no hard and fast rule that men can’t do household work or take care of the kids. There is no job that a man can’t do or a woman can’t do (except giving birth because we are born with a uterus and they are not!)
‘ Mard bhi ghar sambhal sakta hai’ (A man can also do household work). The society feels as if like the household work falls under tight compartments and has strict rules that only women can do it. We need to understand it’s not like that.
It seems pretty disappointing to see a movie about women scientists succumbing to the notions of ‘male star’ and ‘super woman household manager’ stereotypes for its success.
Let’s hope that the movie makes us think that our disappointment was unnecessary!
Picture credits: Screenshot from the trailer of Mission Mangal
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