Are Women Only Either Weaklings Or Strong Goddesses? Where’s The Nuance Of Reality?

Why can’t women be normal human beings deserving of respect and dignity? Would women be worthy of respect only when goddesses – either as Parvati or as Kali?

“Equality and all is okay. But the truth is that women are biologically wired to be mothers and home makers. Furthermore, women should know their boundaries and not try to be men!”

This is the thinking of every misogynist and common man out there who ridicules feminism and feminists. It is this point of view that Sumeet Vyas represents in his common man avatar in the latest Radhika Apte-starrer Mrs. Undercover.

Radhika Apte’s choice of films reflects her strong feminist perspective.

It is a delight to watch her not because she is a good actress (which she is, of course) but because everything she does and says will resonate with every woman out there who has sacrificed her dreams for her family. At one point in the film, I was actually glad that is was her and not someone else whose personal beliefs do not align with their choice of films or the characters they portray.

With a character like Durga, you know you’re not just watching Radhika Apte portray a character onscreen, and that the theme of the film and it’s messaging is something that Apte believes in personally.

*few spoilers alert

But what were the filmmakers thinking, really?

While I laud Apte’s choices, I wonder why the film or it’s makers didn’t stop to analyse whether their film ends up doing exactly what they stand against. The glorification and the deification of the home maker and her sacrifices are highlighted to the point of mockery. A woman is either a demure devi like Parvati, Lakshmi or Saraswati or an angry woman who epitomises destruction.

It’s not just the ‘angry goddess’ trait that Apte’s character shares with her namesake. The climax scene even has her stepping on the villain’s chest, to drive home the point, lest someone forget, that a woman if crossed is Durga. Why can’t women be normal human beings deserving of respect and dignity? Would women be worthy of respect only when goddesses – either as Parvati or as Kali?

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How is this perspective any different from the misogynistic point of view where women are worshipped until puberty and then treated like second-class citizens?

What would have made the film better?

It is true that a strong messaging like this needs to be delivered with a sprinkling of humour to make it palatable. Was the Mumbai-style crass whistle to attract someone’s attention the only way to bring humour? Why couldn’t there be more of Durga managing her home and work and sometimes failing, sometimes acing it be the humour element? I would have liked to see more of the working mother scenes where she buys groceries while sleuthing across the city. The scene where she refuses to accept a mission because her son’s unit tests are approaching is exactly what the life of most working mothers is like. I would have liked to see her teaching him or even just taking an update on his progress at school, even as she is at work. Similarly, the boss (Chief Gill) mansplaining to her (or her husband) why she shouldn’t underestimate being a house-wife is exactly what needed to been left out at the scripting stage itself.

Apte’s choice of films and characters (Monica, O My Darling, That Day After Everyday, Parched, Raat Akeli Hain) has always been a refreshing change from the run of the mill stuff. The only other actor who has made such choices in recent times is Jahnavi Kapoor (Gunjan Saexna, Mili and Good Luck Jerry).

It is indeed refreshing to see Bollywood finally making such stories, even though I wish more women would step forward and share stories that humanize the women instead of deify them like it does in Durga.

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About the Author

Piyusha Vir

Piyusha Vir is a writer, artist, a CELTA-certified English Language trainer, and a Creative Writing Coach. She was awarded the Top 5 position in the Orange Flower Awards 2018 for the category of Writing read more...

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