Deepika Padukone was trending on Twitter again this week, but this time not for the most righteous of reasons.
There was no courageous Jawaharlal Nehru University appearance or standing next to Aishe Ghosh, this time Padukone was standing up for every woman who “puts her husband’s dream before her own”.
Revealing the first look of her character from the film‘83, as Kapil Dev’s wife Romi Dev, Padukone expressed her gratitude writing: “To be able to play a small part in a film that captures one of the most iconic moments in sporting history has been an absolute honour. I’ve seen very closely the role a wife plays in the success of her husband’s professional and personal aspirations in my mother and 83 for me in many ways is an ode to every woman who puts her husband’s dream before her own…#thisis83.”
While Kapil Dev’s biopic may be intriguing to many, including me (a cricket fan only when India reaches at least the semi-finals in the World Cup), Padukone’s choice of words, or her PR team’s or whoever I can blame, are simply irresponsible and lazy. I know that because it took me quite some time to come on board with my own mother’s choice not to work professionally. And it isn’t something to glorify as a sacrifice for her husband.
My struggle at home
Why should a woman sacrifice for her husband? Are a woman’s dream not as important? Why does the onus lie on the woman to strike a balance between the personal and professional?
Having had my own journey of accepting and then defending my mothers’ choice to not work professionally, the constant labelling of it as a “non-career” is pure ignorance. Back when I had just graduated from school, I questioned my mother’s choice of being a homemaker — a result of how strong and influential social stigmas can be. Before college was even over, I was desperate to start working just so I could be independent. My mother and I are similar in most ways, but the fact that she chose not to have a career was alien to me. I failed to understand why she chose to “sit at home”. While it crossed my mind a lot, I never raised it with her, perhaps because I didn’t want to offend her.
It was after I went to college, where I got an education in the true sense, that I became more aware and accepting. Conversations with friends about women’s roles cropped up and I didn’t know how to defend my mother’s choice. But these same conversations, over the four years I spent there, taught me that her choices didn’t need defending. Now that I have started working and am surrounded by people who run their households and I am privy to their (justified) rants, I am a lot less ignorant of all the things my mother has been doing for decades.
An apology, not an ode
It is not about a woman choosing to work that is progressive and independent, it is the fact that she has the freedom to make that choice. I’ve grown to accept and now defend my mother’s choice, a choice she still stands by, over two decades later.
Women have too often been projected as the supporting mothers or wives who are not given their dues in real or reel life. They are always battling to have a career and to not have one. A working woman was looked down upon generations ago and with the waves of feminism, that is no longer the case. But since society is so hungry to target someone, the “housewife” has become the latest scapegoat, but never patriarchy.
It’s very clear from what Bollywood has to offer too.
In what seems like a long season of women-led films like Raazi, Pink, Chhapaak, and the much-awaited Tapsee Pannu-starrer Thappad (a necessary response to the horrid Kabir Singh), the Hindi film industry seems to be moving one step forward and two steps back.
Projects like Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat — where mass immolation by women was glorified to look like a high-end fashion show with extravagant bridal lehengas — or even the Salman Khan-starrer Sultan — where Anushka Sharma’s character gives up her wrestling career for her husband — have seen the light of day and way too much money.
It’s not an ideal, it’s life choice.
To belittle one’s choice is infuriating, but watching it glorified on the silver screen is no less ridiculous. No one should have to put anyone’s dreams before their own. Like I read somewhere on Twitter: If that is the case, they deserve an apology, not an ode.