The Married Woman On ALT Balaji and Zee5 Is A Deeply Felt, Deeply Flattened Tale Of Lesbian Love In Post-Babri India

Director: Sahir Razas
Author: Jaya Misra, Surabhi Saral, Aparna Nadig
Producer: Juggernaut Productions, 

Are you a nasty particular person when you cheat in your husband? Are you a nasty particular person when you cheat in your husband, provided that he’s terrible? Are you a nasty particular person when you cheat in your husband with an individual of your identical intercourse, provided that he’s terrible? Are you a nasty particular person when you cheat in your husband with an individual of your identical intercourse, provided that he’s terrible, and given that you’ve younger youngsters emotionally depending on you? If the reply to those questions is completely different, the conclusion would be the following —morality is relative. Its slippery nature is a good motive to consider infidelity with nuance (does penetrative intercourse have extra at stake than non-penetrative intercourse?) , with extra gaping questions than solutions. ALT Balaji steps into this messy terrain with the satisfaction flag to see if it may shift perspective, nevertheless it falls prey to its personal formulaic feminism. 

The Married Girl, based mostly on Manju Kapoor’s namesake guide, is about two married ladies, Astha Kapoor (Ridhi Dogra), a lecturer, and Peeplika Khan (Monika Dogra), an America-returned artist, who discover affection for each other that bleeds effortlessly into attraction—sensual, then sexual, and dare I say, non secular. Peeplika is rapidly widowed inside a span of two episodes. Her to-be-dead husband and Astha work intently to supply a politicized re-telling of Romeo and Juliet at their faculty. It’s the early 90s Delhi. There’s a caterwauling backdrop of Hindu-Muslim tensions submit the Babri Masjid demolition, however the entirety of this backdrop is in service of its Muslim characters—to border their dying, their grieving, and their involvement. There’s narrative amnesia the place this backdrop simply comes and goes, abruptly a curfew, abruptly a world through which it didn’t exist, very similar to Astha’s two children, who tread the periphery of the story with out being concerned in it except summoned. Then there may be Astha’s breaking of the fourth wall, as inconsistent because the present’s side ratio, which widens and contracts per will. The one factor that continues to be intact is the emotional core of the 10 half sequence—the love that blooms between Astha and Peeplika, and Astha’s distaste for her husband, the king of bathroom seats, Hemant Kapoor (Suhaas Ahuja). However even with Astha’s love, the curiosity just isn’t of their love as a lot as how their love is hidden from and transcends the shackles of society. It’s a view of affection that’s predicated on exterior not inside boundaries.

The inconsistent side ratio mirrors the inconsistent staging of scenes, the place the top of an episode and the start of the following episode present the identical occasion, however underneath a unique context and lighting.

There’s something very cookie-cutter concerning the first flush of same-sex love the best way it’s proven. The primary time Astha and Peeplika kiss, Astha feels a guilt that she’s solely in a position to wash over by having mediocre intercourse together with her husband. Even in Bombay Begums, the lesbian love sub-plot goes via the identical motions, the place gay guilt is drowned in heterosexual intercourse. In each circumstances, the stain of guilt washes out ultimately, yielding to it completely. 

With same-sex love, we’re thus the place we have been with heterosexual love within the 90s, the place the story was about how they bought collectively. When the boundaries of household, caste and sophistication quickly turned cliche, life submit love turned the following heterosexual bastion. Identical-sex love, and even queer love nonetheless continues to be caught within the cliche of societal opposition. This isn’t to say that societal opposition not exists; it does. However artwork should discover a strategy to keep forward of society, or even when it needs to stick with it, then it should be embroiled in it, and muddy the waters. Right here, neither occurs. Astha and Peeplika’s being collectively is completely concerning the society’s opposition to them. Each Astha and Peeplika grow to be flat characterizations—one is caged with baggage and dependents, and one is free with no mother and father to fret about or a dwelling partner to be cuckolded. This additionally explains why the sequence, just like the guide, ends the place it does, an openness the place we all know what occurs to every character, however we aren’t certain if the character will survive their selections. It’s because we don’t know who these characters are bereft of the battle. 

Each Ridhi Dogra and Monika Dogra embody this flatness with deep feeling, the lengthy gazes, whereas tiring, are infused with a way of ardour. Monika Dogra’s inconsistent American accent might be forgiven just like the narrative randomness of the sequence, the place an episode ends with a confrontation, and the start of the following episode has the identical confrontation in a unique context and lighting. The materials and the work that adorn their lives assist. It’s virtually annoying to see how a lot they always wish to tear at one another’s garments, however in fact the carnal a part of the need just isn’t the centerpiece right here, it’s the “non secular” side of their love, which can also be, sadly, probably the most tiring to take a seat via. This explains the fatigue that the latter half of the sequence imbues, as soon as the battle runs on a caught loop of fear-fun-fortitude.  

There’s a unusual conviction on the heart of The Married Ladies—the place it’s the soul and never the physique that loves, and it’s one other soul and never one other physique that’s beloved, the place folks must be saved, and the place folks supply each other freedom like recommendation. This, in fact, has all the trimmings of well-liked tradition, as a result of everybody loves to speak like this, just like the lyrics of a well-liked Mithoon music. Who doesn’t love some Faiz to be thrown at their faces for pillow discuss? But when solely they might hearken to themselves, how childish they sound, perhaps they might back-track. If solely Astha, herself a lecturer of literature who always asks for rewrites from her college students, would have thought via the banality of the stuff she hears and says. It might have made for a narrative that isn’t simply deeply felt, but additionally deeply efficient.

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