Deepa Mehta explores the presence of patriarchy and sexism in an Indian family, and how, in the end, it draws two loving-women together.
From the off-set, it’s evident that newly married Jatin is not in love with his wife, Sita. He ignores her tales of love on their honeymoon at the Taj Mahal, and it is later made clear that their marriage is solely based on her ability to bear a child for the family. Jatin and Sita typically live in a joint family, with his disabled mother, his brother, Ashok and his sister-in-law Radha. Radha is baron and Ashok believes that sexual desires must be suppressed, unless it is a means for procreation.
The unequal treatment of the women in the family drives them to form a loving and supporting bond with each other, emotions they once thought they would hold with their significant other. They unexpectedly create a relationship based on intimacy and passion, and realise the true meaning of marriage, without any patriarchal adversities.
Mehta’s creation was the first to ever explicitly portray homosexual intimacy on screen in India. During the time of release, Section 377, the law forbidding any sexual acts “against the laws of nature” was still intact (the 150-years old colonial-era law has just been overturned in 2018). Because of this, cinemas suffered religious riots, primarily against homosexuality and feminism. Rioters were worried that subservient women would realize the unfair treatment of women in Indian society and revolt, a motive that is so bizarrely twisted.
Disregard the archaic controversy that surrounds the film and watch Mehta’s extremely brave film of two women who form the most natural marriage, that doesn’t require the acceptance of a clergy.
director DEEPA MEHTA
director of photography GILES NUTTGENS
cast NANDITA DAS, SHABANA AZMI, RAMANJIT KAUR, DILIP MEHTA and JAVED JAFFREY
words PRIYESH PATEL
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