Meghna Gulzar is an ace writer and director, though she will always be known as the daughter of legendary poet and writer Gulzar saab. That is how patriarchy functions, without us even realising it. She has made some really cool movies and documentaries that present the gender case, a woman’s situation in a very detailed and nuanced manner. She even continued working when she was 7 months pregnant, making an effort to puncture stereotypes around women and work.
While I am interviewing her in my full feminist self, asking all that I always dreamt I would ask, I am part jittery and part excited. She is one of the rare female storytellers in Bollywood after all, whose work is not only critically acclaimed but also commercially accepted. Out of nowhere, she drops her heavy hand on my shoulder, asking me to stop with the women questions. “Your women-centric questions aren’t working for me”, she says. I am surprised and spellbound, I don’t know what more to say. Until this moment, I always believed that Meghna Gulzar was one of those very few people in our country who got gender pretty darn well.
Meghna seems to have a simplistic view on gender. She believes that if we are to do away with the whole subordination and control that gender brings, we need to stop talking about it. This is exactly how I used to feel about caste until a couple of years ago. Then I made friends with a Dalit PHD Scholar, who explained to me in detail how people from some castes have historically been differentiated against, so much that all that cannot be undone with a few reservation schemes. We also need a shift in attitudes. Same is the case with gender or any other set that represents a marginalized group in the population.
Meghna also believes that women cannot be immersed in our culture, if we are continuously trying to talk about their situation. With all due respect, my only question is that why does such perspective come from only the upper-class, privileged lot? True, women need not necessarily be seen as a separate group, but a large majority of us are still grappling with the whole problem of recognition of equal rights. A woman’s struggle for these rights provided before the law is still a reality that we are chasing.
Maybe women in media don’t prefer to talk about the gender situation for they are trying to find their place in a world that is largely male dominated. Women’s stories are interesting to know and watch, seeing a female protagonist is thrilling even; though much of these stories are still being portrayed as seen by the male lens.