Culture, Gender and Movies

Digging deeper into the idea of Indian Housewives?

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of an Indian housewife? Is it the image of a woman who is not much educated and skilled to have a place in the outer world? Someone who is self-sacrificing and their only sole purpose is to feed and look after their family? With the passage of time, many things changed, but these perceptions about Indian housewives haven’t evolved much.
We have grown up to generalize that housewives are submissive and do not have a say in most things. While it is considered as the most ideal or ‘sanskari‘ behavior by the patriarchs, we have forgotten to see the duty of a housewife beyond the age-old customs.

But the real problem happens when we mistake this choice of theirs as mere obligations as if they are bound to be dutiful to the societal norms. We fail to respect and value their choice. “No one forced me, it was my choice to remain a housewife” Amrita, played by Taapsee Pannu, says in the film Thappad. She is an educated young woman who made her choice to become a housewife but that nowhere implied that she is a submissive woman without much choice over her life. Contrary to popular belief, many women chose this for themselves, not because they were obliged to the traditional customs but because they find happiness and comfort in it. Just like many of us chose to make certain decisions regarding our lives and career, some women made their own choice to remain a housewife.

We are unconsciously made to believe that the unpaid profession of housewife deserves second-degree treatment, a little more than we treat a maid. If you have seen the short film Juice, starring Shefali Shah you can probably understand what this means.


Juice Shefali shah

Shefali Shah plays Manju, a regular middle-aged housewife from a typical Indian household. It’s a 14 minutes short film that covers an incident when some guests arrive at Manju’s home. All the women, as can be expected, gather in the kitchen for their chit-chat while the men take over the drawing-room with their conversations on politics and world affairs. All of them, primarily Manju’s husband, treat her as if she is a waitress. Like that’s her job and the highest possible identity she could ever have. With a simple yet powerful one minute of silence, in the end, Manju makes us think about our perceptions of an Indian housewife.
Manju here is a reflection of eighty percent of Indian housewives whose families take them for granted and who are expected to be available at our service 24/7. This is one thing that needs to be unlearned.
Another old belief that asserts how marrying a woman who stays as a housewife can reduce your expenses for a maid and house help also needs to be redefined.

Ghar Ki Murgi


Ghar Ki Murgi Short Film

Women of the households have a choice to take up something else but choose to continue with incessant toiling in their homes. Just because it’s unpaid does not make the job any less respectful and obligatory. Just like working men and women, the job of a housewife needs to be acknowledged much more than just aligning it to the ‘sanskari women’ tag.Yet another powerful short film, Ghar ki Murgi helmed by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari reflects on similar issues. Sakshi Tanwar plays Meena, a middle-class married woman who has no time for herself at all. Her life revolves around her family comprising of her husband, two kids, and in-laws (or maybe their lives revolve around her!) She decides to take a break for herself, tired of not getting any credit for her selfless duty and that is what makes the story interesting. If we can imagine a life without them, we will automatically learn to value and respect the time and effort they put in for us.


 So, what are your thoughts on this?

Image Courtesy: YouTube

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