Feature Editor, Meghna Pant
While I enjoyed the slick and shiny Dil Dhadakne Do, mostly because anything with a dysfunctional family is entertaining, I found myself disturbed by the showcase of women in the movie. (Feature Image: IBNLive)
Priyanka Chopra’s character is supposed to be smarter than her brother and smarter that probably her self-made father. She is enterprising, super accomplished and features on the Forbes power list. Yet, throughout the movie, she is sidelined and diminished. She puts up with taunts from her mother-in-law. She lets her MCP husband make statements like “I allowed her to work.” She lets her mother reduce her feelings and fears about her marriage. She lets her father marry her off to a man she doesn’t love and then ‘forbid’ her from getting a divorce. She lets the love of her life leave her to become a man worthy of her stature. She lets her brother be seen as their business scion. She shows no spark, instead playing victim throughout the movie (hitting back only once in the tennis court) till she is rescued by a shift in the mindset of those around her. Her character reminded me of a designer version of that mopey and self-sacrificing Nirupa Roy from yesteryear movies. Why is a modern and successful woman portrayed with such a Cinderella complex? The message: a woman respected in the boardroom will not be respected at home.
The matriarch of the family, Neelam Mehra, played brilliantly by Shefali Shah, turns a blind eye to her husband affairs, even when he openly flirts with another woman in front of her friends and her, leaving her shamefaced and weepy. The message: however fiery the wife she must turn a blind eye to her husband’s adultery.
Anushka Sharma, who is called fearless Farah, by her lover Ranveer Singh, is shown as independent and courageous, a woman who runs away from home because it stifles her. Yet, there is too little of her and her role is simply reduced to a tool that propels Ranveer into manhood.
Noorie Sood is a rich girl whose reputation is tarnished because her fiancé dumped her at the altar. Ranveer promises to help her by getting engaged to her and then dumping her, leaving her net worth so low that her parents would agree to marry her to anyone, including their arch enemy’s son. The message: a man (Ranveer) can recover from a broken engagement but a woman will be tarnished.
The supporting cast, especially the gossipy aunties, make up some of the best moments in the film. One particular scene, where Priyanka exasperatedly tells the ladies to “get a job!” and they respond with “but who’ll give us a job?” was funny but reeked of chauvinism.
What surprised me is that these women belonged to a movie made by one of India’s most forward-looking women, Zoya Akhtar. If a powerhouse of a woman reduces her own sex to such vacuousness then what hope is there for the rest of us?