The Other Side Of Love – A Radical Change

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The Valentine’s Day – celebration of love as popularly called by marketeers just got over and the fever of red, pink, chocolates and flowers made me think of one potential question. What does love actually mean?

Original fabric of love has taken a complete 360 degree turn and its revolutionary. Institution of marriage, sanctity of sacred physical bonding has seen a radical change and it is not a question of right and wrong. It is just about how we were conditioned then and how we choose to express today. Cinema has always been considered as the mirror of society, what we see on celluloid reflects what’s happening in society and vice versa. So, it will not be wrong in saying that the radial thinking always existed, the only difference is earlier certain topics were skirted and wrapped under the carpet, today people are bold enough to accept and appreciate their preferences in open.

Movies made in retro era with such subjects were named Patita, Chatritaheen, Hawas, Chetna to name a few. The effort of putting the subject on floor mostly went wrong by portraying the erotic side rather than bringing the emotional dilemmas.

Things started to shift to broader outlook along with the birth of parallel cinema. The craft showcased by the likes of Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Deepti Naval brought forward the emotional quotient of womanhood. The world which was ruled by men’s whims and fancy suddenly started empathising with a woman’s needs and wants too.

Listed below are 5 such movies which did change the perspective and were accepted by audiences and critics alike. And the fact remains, if these movies were not true in portrayal, they would not have been silently appreciated by men and women both.

Ek Baar Phir (Once Again) is one of the early parallel movies which talked about a woman’s need of being desired. Kalpana, character played by Deepti Naval, is nothing but a trophy wife to a successful film star Suresh Oberoi. A woman with a mind of her own feels choked being domesticated and despite knowing that her husband cheats on her, she succumbs to the reality. However, a chance meeting with a budding artist and becoming a subject of his imagination, she feels wanted and loved again. She understands the responsibility she holds towards her relationship with her husband and knows that everything needed cannot be wanted. However, the urge of creative expression entailing her emotional needs makes her take a strong step for herself.

One such new age movie which left a lasting impression on my people’s mind was Astitva directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, where Aditi played by Tabu showcased the poignant character eventually finding her subsistence. She is a dedicated wife and a doting mother. It is just that one moment of vulnerability where she gives priority to her desires than her responsibilities. She does try to open to her husband and tell him however circumstances make her stay quiet to accommodate the societal commandments. Much later in life, when tried hard by her so-called protector husband, to feel guilty, she poses some pertinent questions which do not have answers. When the husband is confronted by his male friend that why is he getting angry when he himself has crossed the path not once but multiple times, pat comes the answer “But I am a man damnit!” So that’s root cause of all issues, it’s not a problem of exploring sexual expressions, but the problem is a woman searching for it.

Another movie which talked about the character’s emotional needs and challenged the societal now is the character played by Shabana Azmi in Mrityudand. Although the movie promoted Madhuri’s character and her struggles, there is a very strong story of Shabana Azmi which runs parallelly and is bolder in its approach. She is a dedicated wife to a priest who has strong political ambitions and never cared for his wife’s desires and needs. Throughout her life, she is doomed by people around for not been able to bear an heir, however when the middle aged Shabana falls in love with a man from lower strata of society and gets impregnant, she is termed as forbidden with dark character. Her character subtly asks the senior decision makers in the village on why there is no question raised on the priest’s incapability of bearing a child, for which she is pelted to death by public.

Rekha is one of the few artists in the industry who has chosen movies based on her gut feeling and has stayed true to it. She doesn’t feel apologetic for any of the roles she has played and effortlessly owns the character on screen.

One of the rare gems from her acting treasure is Aastha. A movie about ambitions and unfulfilled desires leading to choosing paths which are radical and socially unacceptable! Manasi the character played by Rekha isn’t greedy nor craves for materialistic heaven but does get carried away in the charm of monetary lure. When adjustment becomes compromise mind and heart does tend to drift away! But again, the question is, who decides the boundaries? Society? Isn’t it the same society where some of the leading mythological characters were born out of wedlocks and still held in high regards?

Coming back to the movie, Manasi’s husband’s dedication and sincerity makes her cringe at the thought of marital infidelity she gets involved in and wants to apologise to him! It is never easy for a person to admit inclination towards someone else out of wedlock and this dilemma was delicately handled as the core subject in Basu Bhattacharyya film. While this movie revolves around Rekha, it is as much a film of Om Puri as well. Om Puri’s maturity and sensitivity towards his wife and circumstance makes him the “Hero”. He might not be conventionally handsome, but it’s his grace of acceptance the situation which makes the relationship stable.

Gulzar saab captures Rekha’s character’s dilemma in this beautiful poem for which the music was given by Sharang Dev sung in the silken voice of Sriradha Banerjee which gives soul to the song.

What happens if you are a die-hard romantic and believe in the concept of soul mate, but unfortunately meet the soul mate after you are married to someone else? That was the premise of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna where love precedes everything else. Rani Mukherjee’s character marries her childhood friend out of gratitude, but love knocks at her door in the form of Dev (SRK) who instantly connect and then not able to go back to their respective spouses again. However, that does not lead to an obvious option of being together, both move from their respective lives only to explore their individuality and united by their exes. Since the subject is bold and the maker was not sure of receiving acceptance in Indian society, the premise of the movie was set in New York.

The times have changed drastically in last decade. Today women are bolder and taking the plunge to express their sexual desires openly and not feeling apologetic about it. Sense of equality is narrated through right of expression and probably correct which is presented on celluloid more frequently. But the question in my mind remains, what does love actually mean now?


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