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The self-sacrificing, exceptionally generous, and dutiful DIL in Pagglait shows us that women are allowed to rebel only 'within sanskaari limits'.
The self-sacrificing, exceptionally generous, and dutiful DIL in Pagglait shows us that women are allowed to rebel only ‘within sanskaari limits’.
When newly widowed Sandhya (played wonderfully by Sanya Malhotra) walks away at the end of Pagglait, you cannot help cheering for this once clueless young woman, slowly beginning to find her way.
An arranged marriage, an indifferent husband, a narrow-minded family, a death – the path to finding even the beginnings of her own journey are meandering. Yet, Pagglait makes us believe that she will do it (ok, the ending needs you to cut the director some slack and believe that people sort themselves out this quickly, but hey, who ever said realism is the only way to go.)
Like most other people who’ve reviewed the movie, I too liked it for its exploration of a young woman’s coming of age. Sandhya is a typical young Indian woman (if there’s such a thing) ‘married off’ at the right age. On her 5-month-long husband’s death, she realises that the marriage has made barely any dent in her life – there is no relationship and therefore, no loss, no grieving.
Pagglait does very well the story of this bewildered woman whom this shock and the subsequent revelations about her husband actually push towards finding herself as an individual, rather than being an appendage to the family.
Yet, despite a lot of good things about it, the one thing that irked me about Pagglait was how the film ultimately had to cast her in the good bahu mould – someone who rebels, yet knows what her responsibilities to her ‘true family’ are.
The hefty insurance cheque she receives is dutifully left for the benefit of her in-laws, even as she leaves to earn her own living. I could still understand this, since the family is struggling, especially because the FIL retired since he had a son who was earning well (which brings up its own can of Shravan Kumar worms). But that’s not all – in her parting letter, Sandhya also has to tell the family that she will continue to financially support them, just as her husband would have.
This threw up a number of questions for me.
Why does a bride who has lived with a family for just 5 months feel like it’s her duty to keep supporting them?
Would a man owe his wife’s family this financial support, if he were in her place?
Her own parents are not shown as particularly wealthy – can a woman struggling to gain a foothold in the world also support her own parents? Why are her responsibilities to them never even mentioned?
It’s not that I have a problem with kindness, or anyone choosing to nurture the bonds of a family by giving so much (and these choices are shown as Sandhya’s own). Yet there are double standards here that make me deeply uncomfortable.
Ultimately they seem to say, women can rebel but only in very limited quantities. The very act of her leaving to find her place in the world, can only be justified by her continuing to be an exceptionally generous bahu.
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Founder & Chief Editor of Women's Web, Aparna believes in the power of ideas and conversations to create change. She has been writing since she was ten. In another life, she used to be read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
As long as teachers are competent in their job, and adhere to the workplace code of conduct, how does it matter what they do in their personal lives?
A 30 year old Associate Professor at a well-known University, according to an FIR filed by her, was forced to resign because the father of one of her students complained that he found his son looking at photographs of her, which according to him were “objectionable” and “bordering on nudity”.
There are two aspects to this case, which are equally disturbing, and which together make me question where we are heading as a society.
When the father of an 18 year old finds his son looking at photographs of a lady in a swimsuit, he can do many things. What this parent allegedly did was to dash off a letter to the University which states: