The Married Woman is a web series set to stream on ALTBalaji and Zee5. It is based on Manju Kapur’s widely-lauded book of the same name. The show will premier on Women’s Day, March 8, 2021.
The trailer puts an effort to acquaint viewers with Ridhi Dogra’s character Astha, an educated woman who appears to be on a quest to find herself. Astha is a loving wife, and a servile mother, but she finds herself at a crossroad as soon as she encounters the unorthodox and unusual artist Peeplika, played by Monica Dogra.
Speaking of her character on the show, Ridhi Dogra said, “I feel really honoured to be the part of a story, which is so relevant. It’s not just a story about two women and same-sex relationship. It’s much more than that. As an artiste, I really didn’t have any inhibition. I was sure if anyone must make such a show, it should be coming from Ekta (Kapoor) because she is truly a boss babe. I think this is a huge opportunity for me, and I am so glad that I waited so long for this one.”
The platform introduced the characters in a very novel manner. Characters were presented to netizens with their attributes branded on their faces.
It opens with a typical marriage grappling with fading romance, set against the backdrop of the year 1992. On the other hand, Peeplika is an unconventional artist seen painting a saree-cladded faceless woman foreshadowing her encounter with Astha. Kapur’s book is set against the Babri Masjid controversy of 1992. It would be interesting to see how this avenue has been employed in the show.
When Peeplika says- “Main ruh se mohabbat karti hu… gender se nahi.”
She remarks well on how individuality precedes conditioning, how faith precedes religion and that beyond sexuality comes a connection.
Furthermore, Monica Dogra added– “For me, the endeavour was an experience with a great story and such great choices as a human. Representation is so important in art you know to see characters that we actually found and look like me; stories I did; people I have known but not in an unbelievable way but a believable way. So many of them that I know in the world, don’t have a comfortable space for drama. That was really exciting but at the same time, I had the question how will all this be received? What will happen if people see this because it is so truthful. It’s honest, I haven’t watched it but I was scared how a male director would present this story but it was incredible the way he worked on it. With OTT comes a radical honesty. It brings issues to the forefront.”
Astha’s house is depicted with homely pastels and a life being actively lived in nostalgia that feels restrictive. With Peeplika donning darker and richer colours, her entrance brings about a feeling of liberation for Astha and the audience as well. I thought that this particular Alt Balaji trailer does appear different than the usual tropes, as the story didn’t seem to revolve around lust or something that uses sexual content as an asset to make scenes interesting.
Many commented about it being a progressive script that might mark a significant turn for Alt Balaji’s image as an OTT platform producing nuanced content.
The trailer grabbed the interest of many viewers, but I hope the show doesn’t just focus on a generic storyline of an ambitious woman with lesbianism as an additional trope.
Peeplika’s character paints a rather stereotypical image of a liberated Indian woman-artist, boho and muh-fatt. While Astha’s character seems to be in line with contemporary mainstream women’s roles depicted with common characterizations in the last few years. It remains to be seen how their characters move through the story during the course of the show.
Many popular Hindi films and shows forget to reveal the different layers of characters in women-led movies- it’s high time that queer women characters are depicted in the most realistic way possible.
In recent times, OTT platforms like Altbalaji and Ullu often attract Indian viewers looking to consume soft porn. However, if the same shows also ploy into their scripts certain sensibilities that The Married Woman is hoping to adopt, the viewership can then consume content that normalize sexual emancipation, a varying range of attributes that mark women and queer characters as different from each other in lieu of following a common anthem that many commercial films have in the past.