Kuler Achaar: Why Should Women Change Their Surnames After Marriage?

Kuler Achaar, directed by Sudeep Das, is a ‘feminist movie,’ from Tollywood’s tinsel town about a bahu who refuses to change her surname after marriage.

A recent ‘feminist movie,’ in Tollywood’s tinsel town happens to be Kuler Achaar, directed by Sudeep Das, is streaming on Hoichoi.

Kul is also known as jujube or ber or boguri or Indian plum, and its pickle is a favourite condiment of the Bengali community. And sometimes life of a bride is just like pickle — sweet, sour and grinding!

The theme of the movie though hackneyed, still remains the bête noire of a vast chunk of Indian bahus even in these changing times.

Yes, changing a newly-wed bride’s surname after marriage is still a hot and highly debatable point, especially among urban, affluent, (but retrograde) Indians today.

In the majority of Indian households, it’s as important for the bahu to adopt her husband’s surname as wearing the trademark mangalsutra, or smearing the forehead with sindoor.

Refusing to change surname is a recipe for conflict

Any dilly-dallying or blatant refusal to comply may turn out to be disastrous (as Yours Truly discovered through her own first-hand experiences).

Kuler Achaar revolves around the harrowing experiences of Mithi and Pritam, newly-wed honeymooners who are arrested by the police, when the hotel they are lodged in, is raided following complaints of nefarious activities.

The cops refuse to believe in the authenticity of their marriage, since the duo’s identity cards display divergent surnames. Even though they manage to scrape through, ultimately, trouble continues to chase, Mithi.

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Be it her domineering dad-in-law, neighbours or acquaintances, everyone seems to be nettled by the fact that she refuses to change her maiden name. Even her mother persuades her to switch over to her new identity.

But all in vain

Then, all of a sudden, there appears a twist-in-the-tale. The viewers are taken aback.

One fine morning Mitali, Mithi’s mum-in-law, announces that she would revert to her maiden surname! After nearly four decades of harmonious conjugal life, she decides to reclaim her name!

All hell breaks loose; pandemonium ensues. However, Mitali refuses to buckle under pressure and moves ahead with the legal formalities. Throughout her struggles, her sole companion is Mithi with whom she develops great camaraderie and an invisible bond.


By a quirk of fate, Mitali dies before all the formalities get over and are done with. The movie ends on a poignant note: Mitali’s renewed Adhaar card is delivered while her funeral is underway. Mithi hands it over to the deceased’s husband, who is visibly moved and bitterly repents having misunderstood and mistreated his wife.

He waives all embargo heretofore imposed on Mithi, exhorting her to live life in her own way. Then he gently places the card besides Mitali’s framed photograph (anointed, garlanded for the occasion) thus symbolically recognizing her new identity.

Life is, but multiple human experiences pickled in a jar

Regarding the significance of the name: this quintessentially Bengali condiment is sour/tangy, hot and sweet all rolled into one; it is akin to a medley of human experiences.

Phew! I wish my late papa-in- law (PBUH) had also been condescending. Unfortunately he wasn’t. For an entire year he raved, ranted, growled bullied, blackmailed and browbeat me till I yielded.

All in all, despite a smattering of melodrama and idiosyncrasies, the film is certainly worth a dekko for women who have undergone encounters of this kind.

Image source: Still from the trailer of the film, edited on CanvaPro

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Am a trained and experienced features writer with 30 plus years of experience .My favourite subjects are women's issues, food travel, art,culture ,literature et all.Am a true feminist at heart. An iconoclast read more...

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