In Depth

Pained as Protagonist: How Reel life is becoming Real in Kashmir

The movie opens her closets and rips off bandaids. Bringing forth a lot of pain—the pain which she tried hard to ignore and the pain she kept hiding through a lot of pretenses.

She was not an ardent fan of Bollywood. Very few are. After all how long can one delve in the same sort of stories and expect to be entertained? With the current level of availability and diversity, it keeps getting more difficult to be entertained—to laugh when you want to and dispel that stress—to watch a horror movie and feel the need to crawl underneath a quilt.

We’ve consumed enough content to predict what happens next and what to expect. Even the most spicy things seem bland. It was this sheer boredom, discontentment and the feeling that she had consumed all good content on OTT platforms that she opted for Bollywood: Dear Zindagi. Whether she was discontented with entertainment industry or her life, that was a different question to ponder about.

The movie starred celebrated actors. Upcoming and the best. Heartthrobs. As such the movie appealed to a wide audience and made a lot of people watch this in a theatre. Of course this was pre-Covid. By the revenue it grossed and the ratings on idbm, one can consider it a big hit. Maybe a little unconventional but popular.

When she started watching it, she was expecting regular Bollywood romance and a couple of hours spinning some fairytale. It was a fairytale alright but it came with a twist.

The story revolves around a young lady, too mature and skilled for her age, who struggles from commitment issues and lack of opportunities when it comes to career. Somehow she couldn’t find herself the job opportunity she kept looking for. She comes across a psychologist and decides to pay a visit. For her insomnia. Xanax and the like didn’t work for her and it just made her life miserable since she wanted to believe she was perfectly okay and did not need any kind of help and that nothing was wrong.

As the story proceeds, she keeps thinking hard about things and incidents. The movie opens her closets and rips off bandaids. Bringing forth a lot of pain—the pain which she tried hard to ignore and the pain she kept hiding through a lot of pretenses.

In our culture as well as religion, we keep saying and emphasizing on the fact that parents are the authority and they’re correct and everything for a child. Their world, their paradise, their solace and whatever else one can think of. Somehow though, her paradise had hurt her a lot which turned her into a mature child sooner than she should have been.

As adult life keeps unfolding, she discovers more ways she was traumatized in. She understands the reason things had happened the way they did and that nobody had deliberately been trying to harm her, but couldn’t they have been more empathetic? Was neglect necessary?

Childhood is a time when the brain is highly impressionable. So whatever that child goes through in that phase is how s/he is going to perceive the world. The grown up world is an effort to make it less difficult for your child.

The movie had her thinking. Temper, tantrums and being grumpy was not the only way a child showcased his trauma. And trauma is not only linked to childhood. Some people grow up well and happy in childhood, but they get stuck in abusive relationships later on. And then we tell them that since they are adults, they shouldn’t get hurt or shouldn’t be crying, or have sabr, or things like that. As if we lose our emotions once we grow up.

Half the time she was crying while watching the movie. Unable to hold back. It was as if she could see her own hurt, her own pain in Kiara, the protagonist. Everyone calling her shy and messy and anti-social, but nobody trying to see what she’s trying to cope with or try to help her out.

Her parents (or probably all parents in our society) thought they knew what she should do next and what’s best for her without even consulting her and trying to understand what she wants. What her aspirations for her life are. Where does she want to see herself and how they can be helpful in achieving that goal.

Instead parents think they know the goals their kids should target. Things she should do and read and get involved with. Sometimes it feels like care but mostly it suffocated her. It suffocated her to think that she probably couldn’t even chose the brand of shampoo she wanted to use.

Things had gone worse for her after she got married. To the love of her life. They had known each other for a good while. Met each other in college and hit it off. They had many promises and visions for their life together but post marriage, things took a turn probably neither of them had anticipated.

They lived with the boy’s parents. Even though his mother was the love of his life, she turned into the villain of his wife’s life. Dictating everything. Probably afraid that if she left the couple alone without any meddling, she would lose her grip on him. The fear of her daughter-in-law living in her son’s heart.

So she would complain about every small thing and make everything into an issue. Quarrel over nothings and tell her son that his wife was good for nothing. Everyone told the lady to hold her horses and to have patience, things change gradually and usually mothers-in-law take a while to acknowledge the presence of another lady in her house. But what about the hurt?

As days went by, things did get better. At a slow pace, sure, but better. Her anxiety went away and she could relax a bit. She could do things in her way and not stir up a storm. A part of her died in the process, sure, but she was not getting confronted with a new conflict everyday. Her peace had a huge cost. And a part of her was happy that things were sorted.

But there was this another part of her, hidden in her deepest closets and not uttering a word, which could not forgive her mother-in-law or her husband for what they had put her through.


Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Free Press Kashmir. Feedback and counter-views are welcome at [email protected]

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