“Dil Dhadakne Do” is written by Zoya Akhtar (also the director) and Reema Kagti, who represent the modern Indian women of today. They have Farhan Akhtar as their dialogue writer, who proves to be the voice of women’s equality with his ‘MARD’ initiatives. Then, there is Priyanka Chopra — who is vocal about women’s empowerment through her own personal example, initiatives and role as an actress — playing a protagonist who represents the privileged, successful, independent woman. Not that they were obligated to, but it was heartening to see all of them come together on a script that makes a big statement on female empowerment through its sensitive observations.
Through “Dil Dhadakne Do,” Zoya brings our attention to the issue of gender inequality in Indian society — the sexist attitudes, hypocrisies and preferential treatment for men that often goes unnoticed or unchallenged in Indian families. Here are 10 relevant points related to women’s equality that Zoya raises in “Dil Dhadakne Do” in absolutely amazing ways.
1) Even though their daughter (Ayesha, played by Priyanka) is a more talented businesswoman, the parents (the Mehras, played by Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah) want their son Kabir (Ranveer Singh) to take over their family business, because a son is the successor after all. Ayesha’s achievements often go unacknowledged, while Kabir is forced to pursue something he isn’t meant for.
2) In one scene, Anil Kapoor, who makes a toast on his wedding anniversary, expresses his desire for his daughter, Ayesha, to give him grandchildren soon. The awkwardness on Ayesha’s face is hard to miss. First, her parents push her to get married to a boy of their choice, and then, once she is married, all they expect of her is that she quickly has a baby and gives them a grandson.
3) In another scene, when Ayesha tries to express the dissatisfaction in her marriage to her mother, her mom asks her to stop thinking about her career and to just focus on her family.
4) In a scene between Farhan Akhtar and Rahul Bose, Bose says that he is progressive, because he allows his wife, Priyanka, to work. Farhan retorts that “allowing her to work is not women’s equality. It’s her choice anyway.”
5) Through the eyes of the family dog, Pluto, Zoya expresses that when boys hook up with girls, parents often think of it as the boy growing up, but when girls do the same, it’s considered shameful.
6) Parents are shown dictating what clothes the young girls in their family should wear — either they are revealing way too much or not dressing well enough to attract prospective grooms.
7) Ayesha’s family doesn’t write her name on a family invitation card, because she is no longer a Mehra. She feels bad, but nobody except her brother understands her feelings of being disowned now that she has married into another family. Her husband, too, reminds her that she is no longer a Mehra — something almost every girl deals with once she is married.
8) Women are expected to stay in their marriages even if they are unhappy because of societal pressure and to protect the family’s respect. And also because she is supposed to make the marriage work no matter what.
9) Even today, women find it the most difficult to get out of an unhappy marriage. Shefali Shah’s character is an example of how women end up staying in a dysfunctional marriage despite a cheating husband, because she is not financially independent and has been conditioned to make her marriage work.
10) Women from all walks of life have to face gender inequality; it is not limited to only low-income groups or the uneducated. Priyanka’s character is a successful woman from an educated, rich family, but she still finds herself being put in a box and struggling with gender discrimination from her family, husband, in-laws and society at every stage.
There are many more instances in the film that raise other relevant issues. Each viewer might take away their own message and interpretations from this film, but I am sure the message on women’s empowerment is the most powerful one.
Girls like to swing!
(You can contact the writer of this article on Twitter @suparnat)