While the women’s movement in India was never as distinct or loud as it was in the West, the undercurrent of change was just as strong. As a newly independent country, 20th century India was racked with political and social strains. As an oppressed section of society, women are often caught in the crossfires of political and communal violence. These tensions inevitably seeped into familial and individual relationships and later became a trope for critically acclaimed novels and art.
The new ALTBalaji series “The Married Woman” is an adaptation of the iconic novel, A Married Woman. Written by the award-winning author Manju Kapur, it discusses how social upheaval can bring about consequential changes in the lives of common people.
“The Married Woman” is a story of a woman who is shaken out of stupor by an unexpected loss. Set in 1992, the protagonist deals with the death of a man who urged her to expand her horizon, as she strikes up a friendship with his atypical widow.
Ridhi Dogra’s character Astha is an ideal daughter, a good wife, and a devoted mother. Aijaz Khan, the quick-witted and charming theatre artist she comes across at work, forces her to reconsider her convictions about her marriage and life in general. For several years, she was conditioned to live and be contained within the confines of her home, family, and career as a school teacher. As she is pushed out of her comfort zone, Astha’s world falls apart along with her husband’s.
Peeplika Khan, another strong woman in the story, is Astha’s mirror soul. She is a courageous artist who is completely aware of herself as a woman and isn’t afraid of her power. Through her outwardly fearless behavior, she sets the tone for how she wants to be seen and treated. Her marriage to Aijaz is based on mutual respect, love, and equality. She is not afraid to pursue her curiosities and interests. In the end, she is determined to fight for Astha even when Astha lacks the courage to break out of her miserable life.
Like her husband, Peeplika also prods Astha to own up to the reality of her subdued existence. The sudden death of Aijaz sends ripples of grief through both of their lives. They are brought together by the loss of Aijaz, only to find solace and love in each other.
“The Married Woman” gives us a glimpse of different molds of strong women that existed in twentieth-century India when the allures of Western liberalism had not quite reached us. Astha was raised by her overprotective parents to possess the makings of a “sanskari” girl. On the other hand, Peeplika grew up to be an independent woman who is in control of her life. Apart from Astha and Peeplika, Astha’s mother and mother-in-law also are strong women who are conditioned to believe that wife and mother are the roles they were born to play. The internalized values and beliefs about womanhood fail them when Astha needs their support and understanding.
The Boundaries Of Womanhood
Interestingly, after years of staying in a stifling marriage, when Astha finally takes a step towards self-fulfillment, it is perceived as transgression by her husband and family. Ironically, when a woman stands up to being treated poorly, society is quick to judge or call her a rebel.
The story also investigates the subtle psychological narratives that women weave out of their circumstances yet keep to themselves. To be heard and appreciated is an important breakthrough in Astha’s life, while for her mother, preserving her daughter’s marriage and social status is more important. Peeplika is a brave warrior for independence who fails to convince her lover to leave her social roles behind.
“The Married Woman” successfully manages to weave the turmoil inside a group of people with the larger social commotion of that time. Above all, it is a compelling show about love, loss, and the anguish and agony of being an unhappy woman in a middle-class Indian household. The intricate facets of these characters are brilliantly portrayed by actors Ridhi Dogra and Monica Dogra. The cast also includes renowned actors like Imaad Shah, Ayesha Raza, Rahul Vohra, Divya Seth Shah, Nadira Babbar, and Suhaas Ahuja, amongst others.
Watch your favorite actors on “The Married Women” this Women’s Day. You can stream this new web series on ALTBalaji. Leave a comment below to tell us what you think of this series.