In a swamp of forced marriages triggering love stories, ideal bahus and ‘mangalsutra and sindoor ki taaqat‘ it was refreshing to see someone break free from these shackles, and that is what we saw in Jana Na Dil Se Door’s Vividha.
A young woman who knew her choice, who felt chained and suffocated in a marriage she had no choice but to accept to save Atharv’s life, and took every opportunity to leave. Yet the mainstream Indian audience isn’t ready to face what she is, and even the makers have tried to sacrifice her fearless essence to appease them.
Atharv and Vividha’s love is divine in nature, the depth is appreciated by viewers of the show from the start because Atharv opened up a world of freedom for her. He showed her she has immense inner strength, she can make her own decisions and does not have to trust anyone blindly because she knows herself and what she wants.
Arguably one of the boldest females on Indian TV, Vividha didn’t shy away from her desires and when she found her voice there was no stopping her. One such notable scene was when she performed her father’s last rites upon discovering Atharv was alive and in a poor mental condition following Kailash’s attack, reaffirming the fact that the father she once worshipped meant nothing to her now.
Vividha had tried telling Ravish the truth multiple times, only to be cut off and ignored. She was told her mind was playing tricks with her when she said she’d seen Atharv in the house. When she finally was assured that the child Atharv in front of her was real, she told Ravish everything. She was prepared to leave with Atharv at that moment yet Ravish ordered her to stay.
Despite knowing she would never return his love he decided he and his mother’s happiness meant more to him than Vividha’s life. And again because the ‘sanctity of marriage’ should be respected Vividha was shown to play the dutiful wife and was forced once again to stay in the home of the man she would never accept as her husband.
She knows her mind, she knew she didn’t love Ravish, she knew her future was with Atharv regardless of his mental state; when everyone told her to stick with Ravish she didn’t leave Atharv’s side because THAT is their love. Even when he wasn’t in his senses he didn’t forget her. As she said herself Ravish is a nice guy but ‘woh mera Atharv nahi hai‘.
The mainstream audience didn’t think of Vividha’s predicament, instead they applauded Ravish for being such a ‘great’ husband. The fact that they sympathise with the man who knew the full truth and willingly kept her in the marriage rather than the woman who went through everything she did, as well as the uncertainty of whether Atharv would recover, says a lot about what the Indian audience have been conditioned to accept in the history of TV serials.
When Ravish ‘freed’ her of their marriage in the most melodramatic way possible (who in 2017 makes a spectacle of a woman who wants to leave a marriage by wiping her sindoor and breaking her bangles in front of the entire family?) AGAIN the mainstream audience sympathised with him and called him great for his sacrifice.
Vividha was never his to begin with, but again the makers couldn’t show a woman step out of a forced marriage on her own terms, it had to be the man who ended it when it was Vividha’s full right.
Kailash played games with Atharv to make him paranoid about Vividha’s relationship with Ravish but Vividha made it clear that he was the only man she loved, and she respected Ravish. Yet in the culmination of the track, before the leap, even Atharv took Vividha’s choice from her.
Rather than informing her of his illness and allowing her to decide, he took the decision out of her hands and left. That was wrong on Atharv’s part, but in a bout of emotions Vividha asked Ravish to marry her, to make her love him, and Ravish took advantage of the situation. Through flashbacks we were shown that Vividha saw him as filling Guddi’s space in her life, we also saw that Ravish knew she was pregnant before she did, so once again he was applauded for saving her ‘izzat‘.
The Vividha we know she is doesn’t give a damn about society, she openly loved and challenged society against having a problem with her and Atharv. Yet now she suddenly needed a man by her side? She never needed Ravish, and he knew that.
He never tried tracking Kailash down after finding out the truth, never tried to find Atharv after discovering Vividha’s pregnancy. Now that Vividha is in Atharv’s house he is filled with insecurity and resentment of the fact that he STILL isn’t loved by her 4 years later. But of course, he’s a ‘great husband who understands and respects her’.
There’s one thing all of this has proven: we can preach all we want on Women’s Day about female empowerment and their entitlement to choice but seen in practice the mainstream Indian audience is nowhere near ready for it. We prefer our ‘bechaari‘ heroine over an empowered one any day – because what’s sexy about a woman being entitled to the same choices a man is? Women are weak because they don’t have a Y chromosome, let’s reaffirm that in every serial we make and call it a nayi soch.
Written By – Sia Hussain
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