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If you’re tired of all those typical saas-bahu dramas, ‘Mukherjee Dar Bou’ is the movie to watch. A welcome relief from the familiar drama, says the author.
Meet Shobharani and Aditi, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law pair. They live in the same flat and they both have one common identity: Mrs. Mukherjee.
Like any typical MIL-DIL pair, both of them dislike each other. It may sound clichéd, like those typical soap-operas where MILs always conspire against their DILs. And the DILs, in turn, hate their MILs.
But the movie Mukherjee Dar Bou (‘The Wife of Mr. Mukherjee’) offers a fresh perspective on this clichéd topic. This movie is director Pritha Chakraborty’s debut film. She raised our expectation high in her debut film itself by making a movie on a contemporary, relevant, relatable issue. And making the audience think anew on a topic which has become a cliché.
The plot of the movie revolves around Shobharani and Aditi’s daily lives. Aditi is a typical housewife, whose life revolves around Saswata Mukherjee, her husband, and Ichchhe, her daughter.
After her father-in-law’s death, her mother-in-law grows increasingly hostile towards her. She starts finding faults in everything, rummages through her cupboard in her absence. And in a fit of rage, starts throwing things.
Unable to tolerate it any more, Aditi fixes an appointment with Dr. Aratrika Bhattacharya, a prominent psychologist. The plot, which seemed clichéd till now, takes an interesting turn.
Aratrika counsels both Aditi and her mother-in-law and helps them see the other person’s point of view.
We also learn that just because a mother-in-law meted out injustice to her newly wed daughter-in-law, it’s wrong to vilify her. She is a product of our patriarchal society – which has taught her to behave that way.
It’s always difficult for a woman to go ahead in her life, because in each step of climbing up, women are pitted against one another by the society. That’s why Aditi’s mother-in-law hides carefully each of Aditi’s job appointment letters that come by post. Aratrika’s counselling sessions improve their relationship significantly.
The movie ends with Shobharani’s Women’s Day speech. Shobha, always dreamt of performing on-stage since childhood but was never allowed. She gives her debut speech on stage on the occasion of Women’s Day. She said that her grandmother used to tell her that women are like pitchers, any dent in that pitcher make it flawed.
Now, what’s a dent? A dent is her grandmother’s wish to get educated or her childhood wish to catch tadpoles from pond like her brothers, wishes forbidden and frowned upon by a patriarchal society. The wishes never fructify.
Instead, the women fill other women’s lives with all the emptiness of their own lives. This is why Shobha hid Aditi’s job appointment letters. They have been granted only two things by society which they cling to: a house and an identity of being Mrs. X, Y or Z.
On the occasion of Women’s Day, Shobha decides to acknowledge their own names: she, Shobharani and her daughter-in-law, Aditi. Not just Mrs. Mukherjee anymore. The audience gives them a standing ovation.
We are all accustomed to the popular saas-bahu soap operas, where the mother-in-law is the quintessential villain. The innocent daughter-in-law is always at the receiving end of all her evil plans. But this movie is a welcome relief from that familiar drama.
Here Aditi, the educated, modern daughter-in-law, instead of suffering silently, tries to find a solution of this all-too-familiar problem. She consults a psychiatrist. And that’s where the movie takes a turn.
Along with Aditi, the audience also learns that the root-cause of the problem is not the evil mother-in-law herself. In fact, it is the patriarchal society that makes the groom’s mother behave rudely towards the bride. All women can relate to the characters of Aditi and her mother-in-law.
Both Koneenica Banerjee and Anashua Majumdar give stellar performances as the DIL-MIL duo. Biswanath Basu is the perfect Mr. Mukherjee – the middle-class, chauvinistic Bengali bhodrolok who is a product of his patriarchal upbringing. Rituparna Sengupta portrays the character of the psychiatrist convincingly.
All the songs are appropriate. I especially liked the song Khachar Pakhi, when Aditi advises the neighbourhood woman, played by Aparajita Auddy, to come out of an abusive marriage. It’s strange how many women continue suffering in abusive marriages, because it’s the easy way out. The song captures this irony very well.
Boner pakhi bole, “Akash ghono nil, kono badha nahi tar”.
Khachar pakhi bole, “Khachati poripati, kemone dhaka charidhar”.
(The free bird says, “Deep blue is the sky, no hitch whatsoever.”
The caged bird replies, “Look how clear is my enclosure.”)
These lines resonated strongly with me.
Overall, this film is a must-watch, especially for women.
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