The Married Woman Review: Star Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Two and a half star)
Homosexuality is a subject used as per convenience in the Indian cinema/digital (now). Sometimes responsibly, half of the times just for the sake of it, and for years as comic relief to our collective dismay. The Married Woman comes from a mill that has found its niece in erotica in the digital arena and, of course, has the hint of it. But at the helm, it has two women falling in love with each other, and while gay romance has somewhere made its place in our conscience, two girls making out is still a taboo. But, does Ekta Kapoor’s Ridhi Dogra & Monica Dogra starrer break it? Let’s find out.
Cast: Ridhi Dogra, Monica Dogra, Imaad Shah, Suhaas Ahuja and ensemble.
The Married Woman Review: What’s It About:
At the onset of the 1992 riots that led to Babri Masjid demolition and all that followed, The Married Woman brings two women who fall in love and explore lives through their dynamic that wasn’t even a concept for India in that era. Astha (Ridhi Dogra) and Piplika (Monica Dogra) complete each other like a puzzle and present a romantic journey.
The Married Woman Review: What Works:
Ekta Kapoor has made a complete platform out of erotica and no doubt there are takers for it. The Married Woman comes in at a time when the conversation around gender is at its peak, and there are a lot of battles we are finally addressing. The show written by Aparna Nandig, Jaya Misra, Surabhi Saral and directed by Sahir Raza does is normalising the romanticism between the ladies in the most Hindi cinema format.
Using the same plot device Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga starring Sonam Kapoor used, the Alt Balaji show gives it the treatment of two souls meeting and falling in love regardless of gender until the external elements interfere between them. There is an innocence to their love, and on top of that, there is an exploration of se*uality. Adapted from Manu Kapoor’s novel A Married Women, the show is not just about being a homosexual, but conducting a journey towards realisation.
The best part for me was Astha’s cluelessness about what’s happening with her. She has been conditioned to fall for men or ‘a’ man that her family has decided. There is no other facet to her likings apart from that. But when Piplika enters this dynamic she is liberated. Not to forget, the writers take their sweet time in developing this relationship and take it through Ayaz, Piplika’s husband and my favourite character.
On-screen performances are the real strength of The Married Woman. Ridhi Dogra wins the show with her naive demeanour. Succumbing to the patriarchy and trying to rise above at the same time, is a fight many woman fight, and Dogra replicates it with honesty and intriguing eyes. Monica Dogra is the splash of modernity and she manages to be the realisation that a world for Astha does exist outside of the Kitchen and bedroom she is designated to. Imaad Shah deserves a special mention for his short stint as Ayaz. The actor coincidentally appeared in both Women’s Day releases including Bombay Begums. Good work in both!
There is also a nod to male privilege and how men think it is right to be an infidel on their part (kyunki ghar thodi leke aya hoon), but when a woman decides to explore her part, it becomes a crime.
The Married Woman Review: What Doesn’t Work:
While The Married Woman is a good step in the right direction it also manages to be full of clichés and Ekta Kapoor’s staple plot devices. They not only spoil the experience but ends up making this series look like a daily soap opera where Tulsi will pop up from some room in a special appearance. Also, it is the 90s, two women loving is taken so leniently? In a time, we have seen honour killing being practised like normalcy; was it so easy for two ladies to maintain their dynamic? Also, why isn’t no one in the world observing the two while they are out sharing romantic gestures?
The biggest turn off in The Married Woman is the production design. From the sets to clothes to accents to half of the conflicts, nothing resembles the era they are set in. Monica Dogra’s wardrobe, out of all, looks like she has time travelled to 1992 from 2021 and lost her time machine somewhere.
Making the same mistake many of the shows do, the Alt Balaji series shouts out its message loud. Taking a cue from its predecessor, Deepa Mehta’s Fire and Dedh Ishqiya, it is about falling in love with the souls and not gender. But that doesn’t need to be said out loud. Spoon feeding will only stop if the chef stops doing it. The audience is too comfortable and needs to be brought to the restless zone.
While on that, Monica’s Piplika is a gen Z woman in the 90s, and she is proud bise*ual since her teenage. But then giving her an angle where she has been to America and then making her talk in an accent, making her look different from others does not fit nicely in the scheme of things. Are you trying to tell me, she is open to her se*uality only because she has been to America? But wasn’t she already enjoying it back in her childhood in India? Why the plot point, why the accent?
Also, cheat tricks in editing are okay, and smart ones get brownie points from me. But using the same drone shot of the road in episode 2 and episode 9 wasn’t a cheat trick but a lazy tactic to get the work done.
In The Married Woman, the makers also try to touch communal hatred and disharmony but fail to create any layer out of it. One scene where a man turns into a monster in hate, and it isn’t enough to drive your point home.
The Married Woman Review: Last Words:
All in all, the show breaths only because of the acting performances and Bollywood treatment. We are talking about the 90s when homose*uality was the least of the concern and two women are doing the unimagined. This could have been way more shattering and heartbreaking. But The Married Woman ends up being yet another soap opera made with some gen Z elements for the digital arena.