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It’s Not That Simple Shows Us Once Again, That ‘Women Can’t Be Their Best Selves Without A Man’!

Posted: October 29, 2020

Swara Bhasker’s ‘It’s Not That Simple’ is all but a sorry excuse of a series that fails at trying to show a woman’s journey within herself.

I just finished watching the series “It’s Not That Simple.” Although the first season aired in 2016, I only recently stumbled upon it. Since it only had seven episodes of about 30 minutes each, I decided to complete it in one sitting.

Bad decision! It was an arduous task to merely sit through the entire season because I found the basic premise itself very problematic.

What It’s Not That Simple is all about

The story revolves around Mira (Swara Bhasker), a visibly unhappy housewife, trapped in a lacklustre marriage. Her husband, Jayesh (Karan Veer Mehra), is a quintessential chauvinist.

Not only is he neglectful of his wife’s needs, but he seems blissfully unaware of the fact that she is growing increasingly distant from him. He is constantly patronising her and berating her for not taking care of her looks. Thus, crushing her self-respect in a million little ways without even realising it.

As if that’s not atrocious enough, he uses ‘I love you’ as a pass-code for having sex. And doesn’t ever take ‘no’ for an answer. But, what is even more obnoxious is how in the most twisted ways he rationalises his actions and manages to find a way to blame Mira.

But things change when…

There’s a sudden shift in events when Mira meets two of her best friends at a school reunion – both of whom harboured feelings for her in the past. Sameer (Akshay Oberoi) is now married with three kids and Rajiv (Vivaan  Bhatena), true to his reputation of being a Casanova, is now a divorcee.

Both Rajiv and Sameer soon realize that even years later, the fire of attraction for Mira has not doused. Thus, they each set out to rekindle that old flame.

Rajiv and Sameer are seen taking Mira out on dates and showering her with attention, while Jayesh remains completely oblivious. Mira, who had shrivelled slowly under her husband’s scathing remarks, is now a mere shadow of her former self. Naturally, such adulation felt wildly unfamiliar to her, yet somehow flattering.

She begins to glow and assert herself, finally finding a voice and rebelling against her husband.  The stark change in her is slow yet insistent. And before long, the inevitable happens – she ends up having an affair! From then on, the plot embarks on a consistent downward spiral.

Why is it so problematic?

On the surface, it seems like a feminist take on a woman shackled to a life bereft of happiness, who finally rediscovers herself. A woman who finally musters the courage to reclaim her life.

I am all for a spunky woman, fearlessly doing what her heart desires. Someone who refuses to let society dictate how she should live her life. But, that is not how Mira’s story pans out. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Mira finally does see all the cracks in her marriage glaring at her. She also finally admits to herself that her marriage has been long dead, never to be resuscitated.

Why does she need a man to realise these things!

But, what bothers me is how a grown woman needs to be fawned over by two men to realize that her marriage is far beyond repair. And how she laps up the attention from two love-lorn men to finally realize her worth.

After the series, I am left with a few pertinent but unanswered questions. Why was an affair central to Mira’s rebellion? And why couldn’t it just be her finally waking up to the extent of damage her marriage has suffered? Or how much her silence has cost her? Why couldn’t it be her no longer wallowing in her resentment towards her husband and pursuing a career instead?

Although the show is an attempt to laud women’s resilience and strength, the story-line is wildly inconsistent with this basic idea. It, in fact, reconfirms and contributes to the age-old belief that women are incapable of being their best selves without the help of a man.

Rushed narrative but stellar acting

The narrative too feels rather rushed and abrupt. In fact, in certain parts, it almost feels like random scenes have been sewn together to depict the growing intimacy between Mira and her two almost lovers. Neither does it flow organically, instead feeling forced, like trying to fit jagged pieces of a puzzle.

But there are certain noteworthy scenes which give the viewer a glimpse of how deep the pain of being unappreciated runs. For example, in one scene, we see Mira cry inconsolably after Jayesh makes a mockery of her unkempt ways. He goes on to add how she was always only academically strong, but her practical knowledge zilch. This was said in retaliation to her caustic remark about passing up on her Harvard scholarship to be with him.

It is nothing but a sorry failed attempt

In another scene, we see Mira toss out all of Jayesh’s clothes, which she’d neatly folded and packed into his suitcase, in a fit of anger when he screams at her.

The only thing going for this series is the stellar acting by Swara Bhasker and all the other actors. Swara is especially brilliant, her emotive prowess astounding.

Aside from that, ‘It’s Not That Simple’ is a sorry excuse of a series trying to show a woman journey’s within herself, but one that fails miserably at it.

A version of this was earlier published here.

Picture credits: Still from the series It’s Not That Simple

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HR by profession, but a writer by choice, I find creative respite through writing.

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