Monday, 30 July 2012

The stereotyped Mrs Lonely

So, I was watching this movie titled “Charulata 2011” yesterday. Honestly, every other channel was a drag and since this seemed like one of the-coming-of-age Bengali movies, I felt like giving it a shot.
It featured the perfectly oval shaped, doe eyed Rituparna S, who wore lovely muted coloured sarees, Fab India ghera skirts along with interesting accessories, had perfect eye make up and salon straightened hair that fell over half her face like a curtain throughout the movie, barring a few scenes. Maybe that was the director’s idea of creating a mysterious woman out of an ordinary one; personally speaking if you have hair all over your face and see through only one eye, you will end up having a muddled view of the world, like the protagonist in this film did!

Shot mostly indoors, in an aesthetically done up apartment (or do Bengalis still refer to them as ‘flat’ like they did a decade back?) this is the story of a Tagore loving, lonely, well off (husband is a well known editor) identity crisis facing housewife who starts chatting with a stranger. Her chat ID is ‘Charulata 2011’ (oh gosh, don’t tell me it took her that many years to create a chat ID) and the person with whom she chats, invariably a guy who calls himself ‘Amol’. The characters are based on Rabindranath Tagore’s novella ‘Nostoneer’ which we all (anyone who sees movies apart from Bol Bacchan genre) knows has been immortalized by Ray's celluloid classic "Charulata’.

Now, this particular blog is not about the two movies. However, I needed to set the tone. I mean this blog is about decoding marriage and after watching that confused protagonist for nearly 2 hours (I actually started surfing other channels) I have one question. Why do so many lonely, bored housewives in movies and novels end up in a sexual relationship with some random guy (sometimes you also have ex boyfriends featuring in this role) whom she starts fancying? Is that THE only idea of entertainment? Does a short fling have the power to set you free?

And are these characters for real? Educated women who keep drinking coffee and staring out of their window looking as if she is going to be executed the very next moment (they always have that sulky, no one loves me, main duniya bhula dungi expression) and has absolutely no idea what they want with their lives? Life looks simple enough for these stereotypes, get bored + go for shopping + if still bored+ start re reading / leafing through favourite novels or crib about the lack of a child in your life/ if you have one crib about how much they drive you up the wall + if still, still bored + start developing feelings for strangers?
Is that how one defines one’s existence? Who are these so-called ‘Charu’s’? How would they react if their husband indulges in some dalliance behind their back? Or is it because women think ‘liberty’ is defined by extra marital affairs?

I do know of a few who have the same idea about life…but then how much do I know?
These women or characters if I may address them seem to be perpetually bored of their life and their husband. But then, obviously you cannot be bored by someone else’s husband. It has to be your own. The husbands are all standard types, ones who wear pinstripes and keep staring intently at their laptop or Blackberry/ Galaxy S3..what ever is the latest craze. But they are honest, hardworking folks who work that hard because they need to pay the EMI’s, I suppose. No running away from this three letter word in today’s world. Until and unless you father has the Ambani surname and you are in that father’s good book!

However bored they are, these bored housewives (I somehow liked the term ‘desperate housewives more) interestingly do not want to let go of the material comforts provided by the so-called boring, does-not-pay-me-attention husbands. And the authors/ movie makers never show THE reason behind that. How can a husband who needs to earn a certain package to be able to afford the yearly ‘we-vacationed in Spain/ Greece/ Turkey’ keep paying their wives attention or serenade her with flowers every evening? Either they do that or they get the moolah. Poor souls. Kaam karo to problem, na karo to problem. Must be taxing living with at-mind-still-a-teenager wife perpetually!

So the lonely ladies, very conveniently make up their mind that salvation lies in the arms of a man who has ample free time to constantly talk/ chat and provide “gosh I am so concerned about your loneliness” kind of emotional support. As well wishers, they never seem to tell the lonely friend that maybe she should go out and realize that the world is actually in a huge mess and maybe she can use her education and sensitivity to eradicate some of that mess rather than whining. But no, these guys go on mouthing the same, boring lines decade after decade.

What is beyond my understanding is what these ‘other’ guys do for a living? They seem to be musically inclined (ah stereotypes) and either play guitar or flute; the more adventurous among them also play violins/ saxophone I guess. But besides chatting up lonely ladies and playing the instrument (pun intended) what else do they do? How come they never have those boring conference calls and non ending meetings where no one comes to a conclusion? When for days you are zombied not to chat even with yourself, what kind of corporates hires them? The management must comprise real kind souls….I need a job in one of those companies. Pronto. Or maybe they are what people call the ‘creative ‘types? FYI: I have never understood the ‘must be’ equation between indiscipline and creativity; can’t disciplined people be creative? Or like other stereotypes, this must also be catered to?

In the Indian movies and novels, of course most of those ‘Seeta bani Silk’ type women suffer from severe guilt pangs after their indiscretion! Like really? Maybe they think playing footsie and dipping their finger in chocolate sauce to feed a guy falls under ‘innocent asexual acts by grown up women’ category. And they imagine that the creative, guitar playing soul just wants to stare deep into her eyes for the rest of his life!
A friend of mine long back had a similar fling scenario and then had the audacity to bawl her heart out as if she was forced into it. Sympathy had eluded me even then. If you as an adult decided on something, then at least have the guts to own up to your behaviour and decision!

My personal suggestion to the not too interesting to keep his wife’s attention fixed on him, wealthy husbands; start implementing the following, basic steps:
A) Cut down the allowance. I mean Baby you need an iPad, go gift yourself one. Don’t keep asking Daddy for cookies. That way, Mrs. Lonely will realize for herself that money does not grow on trees and you really need to work your ass off and that’s slightly more tedious than selecting the right upholstery and matching curtains. Priorities will be sorted and dear boredom will be given a miss, hopefully.
B) Sack the cook, maid, driver, and gardener, the entire contingent. When the meal has to be  actually rustled up, nah not the I can cook a delicious ‘Malabari prawn’, but the everyday breakfast/ lunch/ dinner and the siesta interchanged with real digging of the plants and getting the perfectly manicured hands dirty, one will start realizing that there’s more to life than filing nails and cultivating boredom as a hobby.

The movie made me realize I have zero tolerance for those who keep looking for happiness and solution elsewhere rather than doing some soul searching. A marriage needs attention and nurturing. By both the parties. One indifferent and one escapist cannot make a marriage work.

I must actually start researching on ‘how to be less bored in your marriage’ for my next blog. I may end up with an eureka moment and motivate an entire bored lot to do interesting, crazier things in life ;)
That way, I’ll be saved from watching and reading about these stereotyped characters.



  1. A well-written rant. If Rituparna S appeared before you, you'd probably strangle her.:)

  2. I loved your artcle and you made some very valid points.

  3. Achyut, Nah she was playing her part as an actor (u know u cannot call anyone an actress anymore, its gender bias etc)..but the character..oh my god, it was so, so not happening. And in real life such people do exist. I wonder how.

  4. Just porlam eta.....not to mention: well written (you already know that).

    And I share the same thoughts about these so called 'bored' housewives. Their to do list has:- Have some fancy coffee, prepare fancy dishes from some book, look pretty, shop, look bored, parlour time, spend time in a coffee shop with a book and dont read rather look outside and have the 'I am thinking' look, etc etc.

    And this movie was such a bore....jodio amar ekta bondhu and tar husband er banano (am sure you know her: Zee te rannaghor host kore)....:|...bari tao oder i.....and my friend also has the same look on her face... :| (Oh, and btw, the buying of the latest gadget with her husband's money (when she has no clue on how to use it) also applies in this case....

  5. Prolaap,

    Thanks:) Haha, yes..the gadget freak who does not know the buttons:)0