A Feminist Study Of The Female Characters From The Family Man-2

The Family Man-2 presented a spectrum of brilliant female characters that deserve a closer look to understand feminism and the societal views they challenge! 

The Family Man-2 presented a spectrum of brilliant female characters that deserve a closer look to understand feminism and the societal views they challenge!

Feminism encapsulates a wide range of social and political movements as well as ideologies that aim to establish sexual equality at the social, political, economic and individual front. It highlights the importance of equal access to opportunities, resources and participation in decision-making including economic. Continuing with this line of thought, the presentation of women in the mainstream media often comes in handy in learning the suppressed records of female experience as well as in combatting the stereotypical portrayal of women.

The study of the female characters from the series comes as a sharp reaction to the cultural mindset perpetuated over the years. This article studies three female characters in the lead: First, Dhriti- a teenage; Second, Suchi-Sri’s wife, and Third, Raji-a militant.

Dhriti is in love but sure of her place and opinions

Tender love blooms amidst rebellion, troubled yet sheltered bitter-sweet honeycomb of Srikant Tiwari- The Family Man.

A teenager gets drawn to an older boy, but a stranger to the school premises. In him, she finds a diverged space as opposed to her converged family surroundings. She is in love but knows when to cut the cords if not respected or reciprocated in equal proportion. This is amply evident when Kalyaan starts to ghosts her. Later,  Dhriti learns that she was deceived into loving Kalyaan aka Salman, who is hand-in-glove with the terrorist organisation. Salman is in dilemma! He faces episodes of indecisiveness and often feels the pangs of conscience in kidnapping and hurting her. But Dhriti holds nothing back in her fury in stabbing him in the neck after convincing him to free her hands.

Dhriti is often distant but sure of her place and opinions. An outlaw, who was on the verge of suspension from school in Season One, is familiar with the social structure; she is aware of the theories that dictate our everyday attitude and conduct. Her brush with Feminism, Communism, Capitalism and other -isms is brought out by a class fellow’s unfortunate run with Dhriti in the classroom activities. Bored, outraged, rude and at times innocent, she combats inequality over the dinner table too. Her struggle to understand the conditioning brings to the fore the need to further explore and reconstruct female identity.

Suchitra takes a leap at fulfilment from traditional notions

In Season One, Suchitra is in the know of her mundane life. Suchi was already teaching, but it was more of a rational way of balancing home and work. Much to her remorse, Suchi had been putting more time and effort into the family. She was in a slump. She strives to move out of the ordinary when she meets Arvind. The start-up comes as a breath of fresh air and pours in new zeal and enthusiasm into Suchi’s sinking professional experience. This shows her determination to seek happiness and fulfilment in her life. For her, work is not only about financial independence but also fulfilment. Her leap also comes as a contrast to the traditional notion, where marriage and motherhood were the only legitimate goals.

At a personal level, she was disgruntled with Sri for being away from home; putting his life at risk. Whereas in Season Two, finding it hard to come to terms with his conscience, Sri takes a step towards the corporate world. Cooped in a chair, cautiously punching the keys while staring wryly at the screen, Sri is neither covertly nor overtly committed.

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He is a ‘ minimum guy’ for the young entrepreneur, and sadly for his family too. His hypnosis works for a while on the little imp when his wishes get fulfilled, but the females of the house are still hard to please. Sri struggles on all front. More so, because to provide for the family, he is denying his calling. Much to the complaints of Sri, he has switched to a safer job giving more time to the family.

The classic paradox of modern woman stepping out

Sri flips at the couple therapy session when asked about his sex life. This demonstrates the mechanism of patriarchy that firmly dictates the typical male image in Sri. Here, Sri comes as a contrast to the other male counterparts in the show who are much more easygoing and less egoistic than Sri. Another episode of this mechanism is seen in Season One when Sri suspects Suchi of having an extra-marital affair when she was only having drinks with Arvind.

From the point of view of the traditional concept of morality, Suchi had crossed the line in spending the night with Arvind. Suchi, in full realization of her mistake, quits her job. Being alone at home in Season Two, she continues to give a hard time to Sri, because she is projecting her guilt and inner- conflict in the form of anger and resentment at him. Somewhere she blames Sri for being emotionally unavailable and getting drawn to Arvind for fulfilment.

This conflict also shows the paradox of a modern woman who has a modern outlook but is caught up between the traditional concept of marriage and motherhood. She knows that if Sri comes to know of the affair, their marriage will further fall apart and her children especially Dhriti will blame her for breaking the family. In a way, Suchi’s pursuit of happiness will ultimately become an example of a woman who strayed. To counter this judgement, Suchi rejoins her job and Arvind tries to comfort her at the workplace without reminding her of her guilt and defining her as a person.

Raji’s stoic demeanour is stunning but distant

Moving towards the third and the final character Raji, we question the portrayal of female and femininity even more. It is because we see Raji living two lives: One, the life of a nearly invisible, sheepish garment factory worker; and Second, a militant.

Raji’s femininity catches the eye of Nanda. Here, I used the term ‘ feminine’ because being female is a matter of biology. But ‘ femininity’ is a set of culturally defined characteristics. Nanda is attracted to Raji as she is shy, timid, stays low and works hard. She fits in the culturally laid out characteristics of femininity. He is drawn even more to find her shapely and fit when coaxing Raji to sleep with him. But her alter-ego overpowers her into killing Nanda, after receiving the signs of abuse.

Later, Raji also uses her body as barter to further the missions of rebel operative. She is a male in a female body. Her stoic demeanour overlaps with the famous assassins like John Wick and Hit Man. Her loss gives her a touch of melancholy. She puts an exhilarating show of confidence, forceful physicality, precision and intent. She can be placed perfectly in the portrayal of warrior woman as depicted in books and movies. While as irresistible as she gets, she does pose a problem when the extremes are not balanced.

Here, her portrayal gets mythic in parts, making it far removed from the ground reality and the socio-economic-political issues an ordinary woman faces. Compared to her, Suchi is much more real and familiar.

Bringing to live different paradigms of female identity

Through this study, we have achieved an understanding of feminism and the mechanisms of patriarchy. We looked at the conservative societal view of women that determined marriage and motherhood as their ultimate goal.

We also find in Sri, the mechanisms of patriarchy, where his corporate job earning decide his social position,  resulting in increased satisfaction in children and the fulfilment of their material wishes. His ego suffers when his manhood is questioned. He is pressurized into fitting the traditional notions of manhood and triumphantly getting out of it without sinking.

Here, the conventional demarcation of socially constructed gender roles has been blurred. Suchi refuses to give away her autonomy, so does Dhriti. Raji and Dhriti in their femininity unleash fierceness if threatened. Thus, the show comes as another remarkable study in exploring and reconstructing female identity.

Image courtesy – Youtube

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About the Author

Ankita Kumari

Ankita Kumari is a Post Graduate of English Literature. With literaturecurry.com, she strives to bring the literature of seven continents to one place. Based out of Bengaluru, Karnataka, she tries to rekindle the fire read more...

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