Six Women Who Smash Stereotypes In Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani

Let's take a look at how a massy Bollywood entertainer Rocky aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani smashes stereotypes through its female characters

‘Rocky Aur Rani kii Prem Kahani’ is worth watching, especially for the way six women are depicted in the film.

These fictional six women may have had different experiences but they all stand for women’s empowerment and smash stereotypes.

Let’s take a look at these six women (and two men) who espouse modern-day feminism.

Her life doesn’t end at widowhood

The multiple national award-winning actor Shabana Azmi essays the role of Jamini Chattopadhyay, the widowed paternal grandmother of Alia.

Unlike typical widows, she does not wallow in grief or guilt. She holds her head high, drapes soothing shades of sarees, is classy, and spends her time rejoicing in poetry. Much ahead of her time, Jamini organizes cultural soirees at home with her daughter-in-law, where they engage in culture-specific discussions over good food and wine. That makes the viewers question the age-old norm.

Why should a widow give up her life? The death of her husband cannot deny her right to live and love!

Finding love, again

Jamini was subjected to abuse by her husband. All that kept her going were the embers of a short romance in Shimla. At a poetic confluence, she met Kanwal Lund (played by the veteran actor) Dharmendra, Ranveer’s grandfather. Sparks flew. At the end of the seminar, they went back to their respective spouses.

Years later, their paths cross. Their romance is rekindled. Late into the night, Jamini is smuggled into Kanwal’s room. They embrace, kiss, spend nights under the stars, and click selfies to turn these moments into memories. Who said only the young can romance? Does romance really fizzle out when one starts greying? Is it wrong to fall in love outside of marriage?

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The focus on the romance of a greying couple smashes all myths about romance. Everyone deserves a second chance!

Educated women fuel societal progress

Churni Ganguly plays the role of Anjali Chatterjee, Rani’s mother, who is a fierce, no-nonsense, highly educated, independent woman. A professor, she moved from Kolkata to Delhi to further her career. Her impeccable English and her choice of bombastic words remind us of Shashi Tharoor. The well-cut blouses and the heavy, elegant drapes add to her stature.

When Ranveer, the spoilt brat, lands at her house, she promptly shows him the kitchen, where self-service is the norm. The scene that is an eye-opener is where she talks about a brassiere. She takes Ranveer along for lingerie shopping. The man behind the counter is a smart salesman who explains new designs, displays them, and even demonstrates the closure of every bra, and the comfort and style behind it. Isn’t that novel?

Why does lingerie shopping make us so uncomfortable?

Even today, women are uncomfortable stepping into a lingerie shop and exploring designs. It’s the attitude of the men manning the counter and the shame that accompanies such purchases. Mr. Johar definitely sends the message that it’s high time men changed their attitude towards women’s innerwear.

Ranveer gets uncomfortable with the detailing and voices his irritation. Well, you see, female underwear is a private affair and should be kept under wraps. Churni makes a strong point here. For centuries, women have been washing men’s underwear. Film songs with raucous dialogues, such as ‘choli ke peechey kya hai’ are hits. But an open discussion about a bra is strictly unacceptable. Any discussion or display of a woman’s underwear is taboo!

A proud feminist, Churni exhibits great strength of character as she drives home a very pertinent point.

Women with a voice

Alia Bhatt plays the role of Rani Chatterjee, who is a woman of today-pragmatic, unapologetic, and understanding.

The opening scene presents Alia Bhatt as the successful anchor of a live show where she questions a politician about the causes of rape. He says that women are to blame. Alia accuses him of being patriarchal in front of a live audience.

In another scene, Alia is caught admiring Ranveer’s chest. This poses a question for us. Why is it that a male gaze is always questionable, but a woman’s gaze is only one of admiration?

Secret to a happy marriage

No matter how much we progress, marriage will always be a union of families and an intermingling of cultures and relationships. Alia and Rocky are aware of their completely different backgrounds and decide to give their relationship a try. They swap families and try their utmost to adjust and compromise with their personal space and liberties. Not only do they try to change themselves, but they also change the people around them. It reminds me of the theory of calorimetry in physics (an interchange of principles).

The message is loud and clear. Marriages cannot survive unless both parties mingle well, understand each other’s norms and regulations, and arrive at a clear consensus. Only then can marriages stand the test of time and keep the partners happy.

Women can run successful businesses

Jaya Bachchan plays Dhanalakshmi Randhawa, the matriarch of the Punjabi family.

Despite playing a negative role, she displays immense strength. After the death of her mother-in-law, she celebrates her freedom and takes on the mantle of a huge empire. She single-handedly runs the business, makes huge profits, and also raises her son, who grows up to become her right hand. A successful entrepreneur who fiercely guards the secrets of her success. A woman who balances the role of a mother to perfection. Dhanalakshmi’s grit and power are what every woman today needs. Who said a successful working woman could not be a good mother?

Marriage is not an end game

Anjali Anand essays the role of Gayatri, Rocky’s sister.

A woman’s worth still lies in being perfect marriage material. Alas, Gayatri fails because she is fat. Everyone seems to have forgotten that she is not ‘moti’ but Gayatri.

Her beauty and her talent lose out to this one disqualifier. ‘She is fat.’ But one day Gayatri decides to break free and carve a future for herself. She dismisses her alliances, reminds everyone of her name, and lands herself a prospective job.

Our evaluation parameters for beauty are archaic. A woman’s worth does not lie in securing a good marriage or a husband.

Women should pursue their ambitions

Kshitee Jog plays the character of Rocky’s mother, and is a typical housewife.

The sole purpose of her existence lies in raising her children, looking after the house, remaining sanskari, and being at the constant beck and call of her husband. The futility of her situation soon dawns upon her, and she chases her passion.  A wife is no longer a second-class member of the family.

The male characters are the bonus

The character of Chandon Chatterjee, played by the actor Tota Roychowdhury, is notable because he is also a Kathak dancer.

Men don’t engage in traditional dance forms. Men who dance are effeminate. But Tota breaks stereotypes. He upholds the dance form and proves that even men can engage in something that’s classic and elegant. The actor has earned critical acclaim in this film for doing justice to Kathak.

As a husband, he sets an example by choosing to leave his flourishing dance school in Kolkata and move to Delhi, as his wife has better prospects there. His career takes a backstage in Delhi, but there is no hint of bitterness or frustration. Tota stands strong in his ideologies and doesn’t play second fiddle to his successful wife. He is an equal. There are men who prioritize their wives’ careers at the expense of theirs.

Rocky is equally commendable as he appreciates his wife’s progressive upbringing and decides to support her views on marriage and relationships.

The film highlights many stereotypes, smashes them to smithereens, poses questions, and presents scenarios that are futuristic. Since Karan Johar’s movies are meant for mass consumption, it is certain that these messages have reached a wide audience and have already set the ball rolling.

Image Source: Stills from Youtube

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About the Author

S Sen

Sreemati Sen holds a Masters in Social Work from Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan. She is a Development Professional, specialised in Psychiatric care of Differently Abled Children. That hasn’t stopped her from exploring other fields. Years read more...

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