Why is there constant pressure on a young woman to get married? Why can’t she choose to do what she wants with her life? Why should she be made to choose between marriage and career? Unlike old-school love, relationships today overlook the age-old ideologies. And that’s exactly what director Shashank Khaitan has explored in his latest film Badrinath ki Dulhania by weaving these issues that plague small towns of India and even the rest of our country—emphasising a woman’s right to choose—through its well-scripted satire.
In spite of being a small-town girl, Vaidehi (played by Alia Bhatt) is shown to have ambitions, concrete opinions and most importantly, a spine. She’s showcased to be fierce and real.
She’s pushed down, suffers heartbreak, but gets back up and protects her dreams. And for once, she doesn’t get emotionally manipulated, in spite of her father’s heart condition.
“Girls today are dead serious about their career goals. It’s high time boyfriends and husbands understand this fact and learn to support their spouses wholeheartedly. Lessons learnt by the small-town Romeo, Badrinath (played by Varun Dhawan), in his quest to win over his saucy and resolute Dulhania (Alia Bhatt) in the eponymous movie, have driven home the message through a dash of humour and romance,” says Barnali Roy, who is all praise for the film for the way it turned patriarchal notions on its head and gave two thumbs up to feminism.
Related reading: Empowering women: Are we doing it right?
Akshika is glad to note that “Bollywood is supporting the fact that time is changing and now girls are conscious as well as serious about their careers.” However, this doesn’t mean that they are running away from family responsibilities in any way.
Jammu-based Shaivite author Shailendra Gulhati uses an interesting metaphor and asks, “Haven’t you heard of God and Mother Nature? He thinks she executes, he sings a verse, she paints it on the canvas of the world… and together they make all life come alive. So is it with us? Together we make all things come true.”
Gender prefixes, questioning a girl’s capacity are very common in this male chauvinist world, feels Prachi Gupte. But today’s girl is tomorrow’s future. She is more capable, skilful and grasping when it comes to her profession and career. She can multitask and handle all things from family to profession very well. Being supportive of your partner can surely lessen the strain and make the relationship very fruitful. A man who values his woman’s ambitions, stands by her, celebrates her success, and treats her equal in all endeavours is surely a gentleman, she says.
Blogger Mira Soni agrees with Prachi but wonders “why a man doing good business is termed as successful, but if a woman is equally good at her work, we simply call her ‘career-oriented’ and not ‘successful’.”
Why is it so that a ‘successful woman’ still remains the one who manages her home and works both well? A woman is still considered unsuccessful if she doesn’t have a husband and family, or if she cannot balance work and personal life equally.
Supportive partners can make the journey much easier, believes Devraj. If a popular film delivers a strong message, it resonates with the masses and a positive change takes root. “The warped mindset should change to usher a balanced outlook, giving modern, educated women equal opportunities to prove their talent,” he says.
Related reading: ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ – You Need Not Be Ashamed Of Your Desires
Though he loved the theme, concept and the idea of the movie, Madhur Prabhakar was not much impressed with the conclusion. The story ended with Vaidehi finally settling down in Jhansi. “I am sure if the film would have indeed been a mirror to patriarchy, they would have settled in Singapore.” As far as promoting feminism was concerned, it was like 2 steps forward and 1 step back, he says. What compromises did Badrinath actually make? Madhur is doubtful.
All said and done, we must be glad to see a film affixing the word ‘respect’ to ‘love’, and showcasing a takedown of patriarchy, even if in a lighter vein. Cheers to a new beginning and a new era of films!