No Gajar Ka Halwa for an Indian Daughter in law?

A comment by Raghav in response to ‘If I made Baghban’. My response in red.

How would you respond?

Comment: It’s good to see so many women expressing their concern and desire to shoulder their parents responsibilities and offer them help in times of need.
However, I would like to ask these women a burning question:

Where does this feeling disappear when the husband chooses to show love, care and affection for his parents?

IHM: I think it’s natural for all children to feel affection for their own parents but Indian women are expected to cut ties with their parents once they get married and see their in laws as their parents (But also give dowry, give up their freedom, family, friends, careers and passions; adjust, obey, make sacrifices, accept criticism of their own parents etc)

Indian daughters are encouraged to have happy married lives by their parents, an Indian daughter’s parents teach her to respect her husband and see him as the most important person in her life. Unfortunately Indian sons are often made to feel guilty if they have happy married lives. Traditionally loving husbands have been taunted as Joru ke gulaam, ghar jamai etc and unlike Indian daughters, many Indian sons would not say that their wives are the most important people in their lives. We actually have jokes about who a man would save if both his wife and mother were drowning at the same time. Where’s the father in these jokes? He too has been warned against becoming a joru ka gulaam of course!

Such societal attitudes do not encourage great relationship with a husband’s parents.

(Also contrast this with how nobody asks Indian daughters such questions, they can generally love their husbands without risking their parents or  brothers being offended.)

Presence of in-laws generally means unnecessary and avoidable restrictions on women, they have to dress more traditionally, their house keeping and parenting skills are under scrutiny, their upbringing is commented upon – this often makes it difficult for them to truly enjoy the company of their in laws.

Also I think often Indian sons don’t seem to communicate with their parents the way daughters do. Often the responsibilities of sons towards the parents are more along the lines of ensuring the wife respects and obeys the parents.

In general Indian daughters seem to be able to manage relationships between their parents and spouse better.

Comment: Why do these women who believe in being filial daughters to their own parents (yes, it’s appreciable) turn into evil daughters-in-law who strongly believe that the husband’s parents are burdening their sons with unreasonable & mean expectations?

IHM: Are the ‘unreasonable & mean expectations’ from the sons or from the daughters in law? What is it that they find ‘mean and unreasonable’? It could be little things like having to hand over their earnings to the parents in law, or having to get up every-time an in law passes by (to show they respect them), needing to take permission for most things, often even to talk to/meet their own parents/friends, or to shop and even to go out with the husbands.

Happily married daughters are almost like a status symbol in India. Indian parents respect and even pamper their daughters and sons in law. Indian parents’ love for their son does not seem to involve seeing them happily married. Most sons, as soon as they are married, are under pressure to prove their devotion to the parents, for example a son who is free to walk in and out of the house otherwise, might need permission to take his wife out; he might feel guilty if he wants to buy her a gift. (He is often expected to put his sister or mother before his spouse).

Comment: Isn’t it hypocrisy?

IHM: Hypocrisy is the way we refuse to see that India hates daughters because daughters are sent to (kept dependent so that they have no choice) to take care of their spouse’s parents (with dowry) while sons are seen as support and prayed and fasted for. And then we wonder why thousands like baby Afreen and Baby Falak are killed.

Do read, So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

This picture was shared by Anil Singhal – the request to god is, ‘Bhagwan mujhe beta dena’ i.e. ‘God give me a son’.

Comment: I would also like to add that Baghban (one of the most beautiful Bollywood movies ever made) is not just about shouldering the financial responsibilities of the parents but it’s more to do with reciprocating the love & respect that the parents bestowed on their children and will continue to do so.

IHM:  I would have liked the movie if it had offered some practical solutions. The couple should have been shown planning for their old age and both having a life and doing something they loved to do, not just Amitabh Bachchan. Till the end Hema Malini remains dependent on her husband.

Comment: Why do adult offspring shirk their responsibilities towards their parents (when these adult children know that the time has finally arrived) under the guise of having the right & liberty to live their own dreams & lives as independent adult individuals & going a step further by claiming that the parents’ love is only an one-sided responsibility & commitment?

IHM:  Legally all children, sons and daughters are required to care for their parents, but “doesn’t this show that there is something very basic wrong with this system which is actually seen as good for parents-of-sons, but which leaves them dependent on their child’s (only male child’s) spouse?

Indians don’t have a very good track record of elder care. In the past the elderly men could hope to have their (often 8-15 years younger) wives as caregivers. But once widowed the women had to depend on the sons, and hence the insecurity about the sons being ‘stolen away’ by their wives. It is a system that has resulted in family members trying to control those they depend upon.

Even today widows abandoned by their families, sit and beg outside temples in Vrindavan. Many in their fifties, moving comfortably and in good health. Why didn’t they live in their own homes? How is it that these women/their families did not see their ancestral/marital homes as their rightful homes? Many husbands/families seem to have no concept of financial security for female members. But in general parents of daughters seem to plan for their old age better.

Read more at – 100 per cent of the elderly surveyed stated that their daughters-in-law abused them the most.

Comment: A poignant scene from BAGHBAN which refuses to evade my memory even after all these years (partly because I have seen this movie umpteen times with tear filled eyes) deserves a mention in my post:

The son (played by Aman Kapoor) reaches home from his office seething with fury because of a visit paid by his mother (played by Hema Malini) to his office earlier during the day (however, he doesn’t meet her because he falsely assumes that his mother is there to talk about petty issues).
The mother is moved to tears (which she smothers) when she is harshly confronted by her own son in the presence of his wife (played by Suman Ranganathan).

It’s then that the mother offers an explanation and says that she visited him out of motherly love & affection. She states that she had fondly cooked Halwa (an Indian dessert) for her son as she has done all her life without a miss on all his birthdays (a dessert that the son too relishes). She woke up early this morning to cook the dessert for him but since he left for his office; she went to his office, out of her beautiful motherly love, so that he can have a bite as he loved the pudding and always had it on all his birthday mornings.
The son feels ashamed (only slightly; for a few seconds) but his wife seeing it as event that might evoke sentiments of love & care in her husband’s heart for his mother is quick to respond with a heavy melodramatic act of hers (this is when she is not even being and has never been targeted by the innocent mother-in-law). She wails loudly accusing the mother. She blames her MIL for foiling her plans of throwing up a surprise that she had planned for her husband’s birthday (though the wife never had any such plans; she merely cooked it up as an excuse to cash-in on the the situation as shown in the movie). She screams & shouts at her MIL & humiliates her by saying that his mother wants to show that she is the only one concerned about her son (the mother never had any such intent as it has been clearly depicted in the movie).

The husband immediately sides with his wife (who actually is the one adding fuel to fire) without showing any regard for the intense love that his mother has for him and retorts:

Just see what have you done; you made my poor wife cry.

The mother who’s terribly hurt now asks her son (still softly; her composure is unbelievable taking into account the way she has just been humiliated by her own son & DIL for no fault of hers): ‘

‘You can easily see the tears in your wife’s eyes but you can’t see any tears/any pain/ any love in your mother’s eyes?’

With great pain , she adds ‘You seem to have forgotten that I am your mother but I will always remember that you are my son’

Having said that, the mother retires to her bedroom and silently sobs behind the closed door.

SIGH!

IHM: There is so much wrong with this scene although it seems to have been created as a lesson for Indian sons. It’s insulting to mothers also.

The mother, although in good health, is shown to be totally dependent, she has no interests, friends and life of her own. She depended on her husband first, and now on her son. She finds happiness in doing things for her children which don’t necessarily please them. Even the gajar ka halwa is more about herself than the son, in fact the son feels guilty but not delighted that the gajar ka halwa was made for him. This is what happens when women are made to give up singing, reading, careers and friends when they are young. Also, the movie kept the mother in dependence till the end, women older than her are capable of leading richer lives. Older women should be encouraged and supported in finding meaningful lives and not made to fit such stereotypes. Also, please read Radha’s comment here.

The movie was very popular and it touches upon a relevant problem, but it shows no solutions. Is sponsoring of a needy boy’s education a solution  (as shown in the movie)? Please consider, how did Mota Bhai and his wife live so happily with no children of their own? 

Now for the gajar ka halwa – why do we see hardly any movies where mothers make gajar ka halwa for daughters? Because daughters are paraya dhan (another’s property), not a budhape ka sahara (or support in old age)?

In one movie Tapasya – where Rakhi supports her family, she is shown as staying unmarried because once she marries, all of an Indian woman’s time, her earnings and her labors are seen as rightfully belonging to her husband and in laws. 

– Is it surprising that those who respect these traditional values don’t want to have daughters?

In ‘Phagun’ – Waheeda Rehman, deserted by her husband Dharmendra, raises her only daughter Jaya Bhaduri. Once Jaya Bhaduri gets married and her mother visits the young couple, the young husband’s difficulties in making ‘adjustments’ that Indian women face all the time are shown as justified. The movie is not as much about the loneliness or pain of the old mother (no less loving than Hema Malini in Bhaghban) but about the husband’s feelings and reasons why he objects to her presence and interference. (Can you imagine the a movie where a daughter in law is shown doing this and not shown as evil?)

The problem I think is Patriarchy. Male children are seen as the providers of dowry, financial support and elder-care givers, so mothers make gajar ka halwa for them. Where does this gajar ka halwa go when the child is a daughter? And no gajar ka halwa for a daughter in law?

Related posts:

Oprah, Indian Family Values and Widows of Vrindavan.

What happens to those elderly who have no sons and hence no daughters in law?

Is it possible to solve a problem without treating the cause?

Dheeyaan dee maa rani, bhudhaapey bharey paani

111 thoughts on “No Gajar Ka Halwa for an Indian Daughter in law?

  1. This is how the Indian Society developed till now….thru the ancient times to the hindu, budhist, moghuls and the british influence …. I guess it would take time to bring about any worthwhile changes, which I am sure are in process now.

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  2. Well argued.
    The last para says it all.
    The problem is “Patriarcy”
    Solve that, and everything else will fall into place.

    Now let me read what others have to say and I may return later.
    Not trying to be the first to comment, but if I am, I won’t mind the honour.
    Regards
    GV

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    • Oops! I am second, not first. Not bad. Runner-up position is okay for me.
      Oops again! The word should be Patriarchy, not Patriarcy. Please excuse the typo.
      Regards
      GV

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    • And how do you solve patriarchy? After all it’s all the game of power. Those who cannot capture and maintain the right position, lose. If women are unable to fight for their rights, nothing is gonna change. Men are not giving up their privileges just like that – in an act of mercy or something. Men are also not going to promote women to a higher level because it is morally right.

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  3. //”Where does this feeling disappear when the husband chooses to show love, care and affection for his parents?”//
    Counter question: To the same place where the husband’s feelings disappear when the wife wants to show love, care and affection to her parents, visit her home, stay with her parents and have them stay with her.

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    • What do you have to say about those women whose husbands are loving and kind to their wives and her parents (and are always there for & with them if need be) and yet such women refuse to treat their husbands’ parents with respect & love?

      It would be quite unfair to assume that all DILs are inherently good by nature & would like to behave kindly towards their in-laws & if any DIL(s) acts/act otherwise, she/they can only do so in retaliation to the unfair reatment meted out to them by their husband(s).

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      • Women are not goddesses or mamta ki moorti/tyaag ki devi/devi – they are people, they are as capable of being good or bad as anybody else.

        Some of what women do is seen as wrong because ‘How could a woman do it’ – like not wanting to be mothers, not wanting to live with their spouse’s parents, living with a man they are not married to, not wanting to give up their dreams etc.
        Sometimes, something a woman does is seen as wrong because it was wrong for anybody to have done it, like murder, cheating, pick pocketing etc. That’s generally more fair.

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        • I am not saying that an act is more wrong if it is committed by women rather than men. A vice is a vice regardless of the gender involved.
          Who’s even saying that?

          A mother-in-law is also a woman, we needn’t forget that. In the above stated comment, the DILs are actually being painted as figures of wholesome goodness who can never go wrong and if at all they stoop down to showing disrespectful behaviour towards their in-laws, it is because she has been provoked to do so and NOT because she has been comepelled by her intrinsic evil urges which cannot be justified.
          My question was: If the woman’s husband is kind to her parents, even then why do such women misbehave with the guy’s parents?

          The answer should have been that: Yes, there are some women who are intrinsically evil by nature (just like some men who are also evil) and we need to accept that fact.

          We can’t come to the rescue of the DIL everytime she misbehaves with her in-laws (under the assumption that DIL is always a nice person) and turn a deaf ear to the plea of the MIL (again assuming that she surely must have done something wrong to provoke her DIL’s ire). I am simply asking for fair treatment.

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        • //Raghav: We can’t come to the rescue of the DIL everytime she misbehaves with her in-laws (under the assumption that DIL is always a nice person) and turn a deaf ear to the plea of the MIL (again assuming that she surely must have done something wrong to provoke her DIL’s ire). I am simply asking for fair treatment.//

          Misbehave is a very general term. Like Shravan Kumar/Ananya, many Indians thinks DIL not wearing a thaali/mangalsutra is misbehavior. DIL continuing to work on the laptop in presence of father in law (i.e. not getting up to show respect), DIL not handing over her earnings to her in laws, or wanting to go out with her friends, wearing jeans, not covering her head with her pallu/dupatta/pallav, calling her husband by his name, eating before her husband, not bearing male children, wanting to keep her jewelery, having/expressing an opinion etc is all seen as ‘misbehavior’ by somebody or the other.

          It should not be taken for granted that a daughter in law (or a son in law, let’s be fair) would be wiling to live with their spouse’s family.

          MILs and FILs (who play a part in why the MIL does not have more to her life than serving the family and raising the son, and who are as much a part of the family) are also victims of Patriarchy. The son-obsession starts with being blessed with blessings like ‘have a hundred sons’.

          *

          //Raghav: A mother-in-law is also a woman, we needn’t forget that.//

          1. It’s not men versus women.
          2. Mothers in law and fathers in law have similar expectations from a male child’s spouse.
          I have blogged about a father in law I met who told his wife she ‘did not know how to control the daughters in law’, whereas his grandmother dd a great job of keeping daughters in law under control. Also, fathers in law control through the mothers in law.

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      • @Raghav,

        //”What do you have to say about those women whose husbands are loving and kind to their wives and her parents (and are always there for & with them if need be) and yet such women refuse to treat their husbands’ parents with respect & love?”//

        The same that I would say about a similar husband.

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        • A lot has already been asked and expected of husbands here; it time to ask such women a few questions too and hold them accountable.
          Turning it around everytime doesn’t help.

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        • “What do you have to say about those women whose husbands are loving and kind to their wives and her parents (and are always there for & with them if need be) and yet such women refuse to treat their husbands’ parents with respect & love?”

          I don’t know who these types of DILs are because I am yet to come across one, except for some in soap operas and movies. Even the ones who seem to be indifferent towards their in-laws on the surface actually have some deep rooted resentment towards their in-laws, for some bad treatment meted out to them(DILs) before.

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  4. Patriarchy is only one side of the problem. The other is that women heavily contribute to legitimazing their inferior position in the society – generation after generation.

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      • I think women should stop victimizing themselves. Especially those who have resources to lead an independent sucessful life. Somebody has to start working for a better tomorrow. And that for 100% won’t be men.

        One example:

        My partner’s mother always nags him about how he is her only happiness, hope for the future and generally everything. She always tries to prove to him, that if not for the fact that she has a son, there would be nobody to “rescue” her.

        The lady is neither old, nor in a bad health. Moreover, she has a decently paid government job and a property in her name. In my opinion, she has nothing to complain about except high humidity in a rainy season.

        When young, she used to support financially her parents and siblings and was a very respected family member. She knew how to use her skills. She even got a university degree without any help and even against the voices of disaproval.

        What is left of it now? Nothing. Because it is easier to float on the boat where you pretend that you are unable to do anything on your own. Surprisingly, it all changed only about time her son got the first job, left home and became independent.

        I thinks that’s her recipe for life now – getting attention through playing a victim.

        Cheap and cheezy.

        You can only imagine what kind of a role model she would be for her daugher if she had one.

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    • “The other is that women heavily contribute to legitimizing their inferior position in the society – generation after generation.”

      EM, yes, I agree but that too is a part of patriarchy. Women are always co-opted into patriarchy to lend it legitimacy. Bear in mind, that in patriarchal societies women are considered the bedrock of family and, therefore, society (as so many of IHM’s post point out). It is by assigning them this role that the institution of patriarchy ensures that it reproduces itself in perpetuity. One of the ways that it gets perpetuated is that the women are accorded power at some stages in life. So for instance, a new d-i-l will never have any power in the classic patriarchal set-up but sees how older married women (usually m-i-l) who have produced sons start to acquire power in the family and will therefore aspire to this position eventually. Revolting daughters-in-law/ women would just not do in this situation!

      So I would disagree with you even if it seems like nitpicking. Patriarchy is, in fact, THE source of this situation and women are co-opted into it to make it work. This is in much the same way that you will hear many people who belong to lower castes will validate the caste system and say that it is part of God’s will so it must be right.

      S

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      • Hey S,

        Yes, but as I wrote under GV’s comment – men are not gonna give up patriarchy, because it is advantageous for them. So, it will not disappear unless women act against it – in large numbers and with great passion.

        In other parts of the world patriarchy also didn’t disappear because men became ultra generous. Women had to fight for freedom.

        I doubt there is any other way.

        Nature is brutal, only the strongest survive, and I believe we are spiecies included under the same law.

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        • You are right, and you are wrong.

          You are right that women will never be free from oppression unless women themselves gain consciousness of their oppression and decide to fight it.

          You are wrong because no matter how hard women fight, we cannot end oppression on our own precisely because we are an oppressed class. We NEED male allies in order to succeed. This is not kosher to say in feminist circles, where one is pressured to be all rah-rah girl power. But it is simple reality.

          There is NO oppressed group that can free itself without winning over the oppressors. Without most white people agreeing that slavery is evil, that horrific oppression would never have ended: you think black people had the power to change the laws of the land all by themselves? Without most men agreeing that women should have the right to vote and use contraceptives and own their own property, we would not have gained those rights either. Women as the oppressed class simply did not have the power to change these laws.

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      • Replying to Nandini.

        I’m a little confused. IMO women have been trying to win over men for centuries.

        All our little socio-cultural rituals are designed to do just that — win men over by showing them how docile, meek and obedient women are.

        I also believe that most men realise that the status quo is unfair and unethical. It’s just that they do not care.

        So in that sense, men do close ranks against women and conspire to keep them down.

        I think the movement for gender equality is the most profound revolution humanity has ever undertaken.

        I also think that sexism is much more deeply entrenched than is racism, casteism or ageism.

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    • Patriarchy is NOT evil men ruining things for poor helpless women.

      The patriarchy is a system of male leadership and power supported and continued by BOTH men and women. Most men and women support the patriarchy because that is what they have been brainwashed from birth to believe is right. There are almost no men are evil monsters consciously plotting to keep women oppressed.

      Most of us are just fish swimming in the waters of the patriarchy – and when feminists try to tell us that we are “wet”, we can’t even understand what “wet” means, because we have never known what “dry” is. This is what makes feminism’s message so difficult to communicate and hear for most people. We are barely scratching the surface of the matter…

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    • @EM,
      Of course how else did this oppressive system sustained itself for centuries if not for the foot soldiers of patriarchy. If men are trying to be men then women are equally trying hard to be women, one size fits all…
      In patriarchy women are selectively rewarded with status and personal power for their loyalty to patriarchy. The loyalty to patriarchy means their devotion to train young women and men into patriarchal gender expectations and checking desent from yonger generation.
      http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/401/
      http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/633/

      Mothers are rewarded with praise for raising daughters as good wives and bahus and mothers of sons are rewarded for birthing sons and personal power over their sons’ wives.
      Who wants to let go of personal power in exchange of public power that is not even for granted?

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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    • Exactly. In fact, I would say, women are more enthusiastic supporters of patriarchal practises than are men.

      I understand why men are loath to give up their privileges, but I am always perplexed when an educated, financially independent woman stays in a bad marriage and wallows in her victim status.

      Life is not for the mentally weak as PT said so well in an earlier comment.

      Too many women expect others to fight their battles for them.

      They wish to enjoy the benefits of equality without getting their hands dirty. That’s just opportunism and laziness.

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  5. Sorry to a bit off-topic but a family-based Bollywood movie has to include at least one evil-minded woman (lady villain) and often no evil-minded man. And, the woman is made to ‘realize’ her ‘mistakes’ often by being slapped. And such a situation is glorified in the movie, as in it is not only accepted to beat your wife but it’s also often ‘needed’. Baghban, Hum Aap Ke Hai Kaun, Vivah… the list is long.

    How come we never see the reverse? A man being slapped by his wife to set him right?🙄

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    • In all fairness, I think there are a few Bollywood movies where the male protagonist is slapped by a woman who he has been harassing. Never seen a slap from a wife, though.

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    • FYI, the Bollywood movie Baghban doesn’t show any woman being slapped for her misdeeds.
      And, the above listed movie does show evil minded men too in form of
      ungrateful sons.
      You can also have a look at the famous K soaps which once ruled Indian television: men were routinely slapped by women in those shows by the DILs of the house so much so that after a while the shock vallue disappeared.

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    • I know a woman who is being abused by her husband even after 40yrs of marriage. He is verbally abusive, and if she retorts he hits her too with whatever he has in hand. When she told me that he hits her, I told her to hit him right back. She said he is stronger and can do anything. I said if he used hand, you use a chair or some object next to you and hit right back. I said that is the only way to stop him and no he cannot get away with his beatings. Do you think she agreed to what I said? No. Instead, she told another person how badly girls are raised these days. These women are so brainwashed to think that it is WRONG to say anything to husband, they derive some sort of happiness being the victim. Sacriofice , suffering of women is over glorified, blame it on our cultural, out stories or our movies. Her comment about this blog of IHM – ‘They are women who are raised different, we are not like that, we come from good families’

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  6. I lived with my in laws for a year when I got married. I was looking for a job for the first month of my marriage and had to stay at home. My mother in law runs a business from her home and expected me to help her, which I happily did as I was home doing nothing. However I remember to this day, when if I slept for more than 20 minutes in the afternoon she would call my mother and tell her I am sleeping and to wake me up. My poor mother would get scared and call me on my cell asking me to wake up and help my mom in law (when no help was needed).

    When would always serve dinner (laying out the Thali) and she would make a big thali for my husband and specifically tell me that the Thali was for him, lest I eat a little extra.
    Once I started my job I had an extremely demanding boss, my mother in law still expected me to cook before I left for work. And she would sometimes taunt how she is no respite from the kitchen.

    Thankfully I moved abroad in sometime and I didn’t have to put up with her. However even now when I go back she on a holiday she expects me to cook at 6 am in the morning and if I sleep they still calls my mom and tells her I am sleeping. Her daughter does not help her when she comes over to stay and I once asked my mother in law. The answer I got was in our culture we do not let our daughters do any work .

    Whenever I call her to find how she is she mentions how they are not well and if something happens to them who will look after them and then in the same tone tells me how much money she has and she doesn’t care about anyone.

    Anyways to cut a long story short I am made up of tough stuff and hardly anything she says or does ever bothers me. I just listen from one ear and remove from the other. Sometimes when her taunts get too much, I retort back in a joking way to shut her up. I think it pisses my mother in law that she never gets any sort of reaction from me.

    I don’t know whether that is good or bad but it helps me maintain my sanity and I have not had a single sleepless night because of her or her old fashioned views and I don’t think I ever will.

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    • I was trying to place myself in your situation for a moment – and the only thing that came to my mind was that if my MiL(-to-be) asked me to do any of these, I would laugh in her face.

      Sorry, but that’s just too funny for me.

      I know you probably look at it with less laughter, but I’m glad you found your way out of this!

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    • Yes, the MIL is right, married daughters are not supposed to work when she visits her parent’s home (she also needs some respite from her duties) ; suprise that DIL isn’t aware of her own cultural values. The very people (like the DIL here ) who exclude the daughter of the house as an official family member and want her to be treated as guests who shouldn’t overstay her welcome at her parent’s house want to her to work there. (Don’t they know that the guests are not made to work? Such inhospitality)
      It’s fine if the DIL doesn’t want to work because she
      herself considers a guest here and not a family & she truly is a guest since she lives somewhere else but then in that case the MIL can stepin to offer her hospitality.

      And, please don’t address the SIL as my MIL’s daughter, you too share a relationship with her for now since you are a part of the hsuband’s family even if you are not willing to embrace it.

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      • Raghav,

        How about calling her mother everytime she naps in afternnon and ask her to wake her up? Couldnt she herself wake her up when she needed help? How right is it to call DIL’s mother on silliest thing and then expect her to treat her ILs house as her own? How would you feel if you stay at wife’s parents home and your wife’s mother call your own mother on smallest thing everytime you take a small nap? Calling mother is just the tip of an ice-berg, there are lot of things beneath that tip.

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  7. Whoever this commentor is/was, he isnt at fault. He enjoyed a tear of a movie for what it was and failed to see through the madness that is propagated by bollywood. If it werent for such an audience, present day hindi cinema would have been dead or if we were that lucky reborn with something more meaningful to say.

    Sadly the movies are the same, the audience is the same and India remains rooted in the past. Wherever there is a little hope of breaking the shackles of the past, some sena or the other will start shouting loudly drowning out opposition with meaningless slogans and conveniently adapted lines from one of the holy books. Thankfully women are breaking free from it more than ever and men no matter how much they cry that they were cheated, are finally waking up to the truth that the other gender has had enough. I dont care how many commentors are going to raise a hue and cry about Baghban being a great movie, I couldnt sit through it even once.

    Oh before you get any doubts, my parents are absolutely healthy and well, they plan to retire soon and sit at home. They arent dependant on me or my brother for anything yet, and have decided that when they are, they will make it blatantly clear. Me and my brother would love to have mom home bcoz I know no matter who we marry, she wont go through half the hell my mom had to. Most likely both of them will gang up against me😀

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    • Yea… Bollywood gives crap most of d time… But I was watching this movie Fashion n TV… I suddenly noticed tht she says broken self-confidence rather than broken izzat, besharmi etc… And the father encouraging to go back and fight for her dreams again… this never occured to me when i saw d movie first when i didnt like it much… what i mean to say is may be these kinda hints r thr in many movies… juz tht we dont see it

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    • You are right.
      The person who commented is certainly not at fault because he has the right to watch & enjoy Bollywood movies which depict the importance of love & respec that an adult should/can have for his parents (the way parents have it for their offspring) in same way that many other people who fancy & idolize the love

      shown between two lovers (which has been a recurrent them in many Bollywoo
      d movies for a long time; be it puppy love between two teenagres which make school-going girls weak in their knees or be it more mature love between a man & woman).
      Many people don’t have problems with such mushy storylines and at times such movies are hailed as coming-of-age movies (the ones that depict love between a young guy & girl).
      A Hollywood movie Titanic (which once again created buzz with its 3D format here in India) has been greatly appreciated by a large audience who were moved to tears not only because it brings to surface raw human emotions in the wake an impending tragedy but also as it immortalizes the love between the protagonists (played by Leonardo and Kate). I have seen the mass hysteria among the audience associated with such a love storyline woven into the movie.

      People can cherish such love and compliment it (such movies have achived critical acclaim but they seem to have scant regard for the portrayal of love between a son and his parents on screen which they are too eager to dismiss as boring and soaked heavily in unneccessary melodrama. However, It’s their choice.

      One’s preference for movies seems to also be based on the regard that one (man/woman) attaches to his/her relationships (the love between a man & woman as in bf/gf, husband/wife relationship or the love as in adult offspring- parents relationship) and accordingly seek out/ appreciate movies that vaildate such preferences.

      It’s sad to see love for one’s parents dwindling in today’s day & age.

      Love for one’s parents is not a traditional virtue but is one of the most basic human emotions which can/should at times override others.

      Baghban does raise an important question: How far can & would children like to go to support their parents?

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      • Hey Raghav,

        Since I never sat through the whole movie I cant comment on whether the right questions are raised. I am also not a big fan of the mushy love stories either, I dont watch slap stick comedy which pretty much cuts out most of bollywood from me. I do like the parallel cinema that had started off a while ago but that also now seems to have lost track. Of recent movies “Stanley ka Dibba” and “Chillar Party” were actually entertaining. The rest I dont even remember.

        IHM likes “ekk main hu aur ek tu”, I found that worth a one timewatch. The songs are fun though.

        http://indianthoughts.wordpress.com/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php

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      • ROTFL… It was fun to see you categorize me as a love story fan without knowing me. Judging people with just what you have seen and what you believe is right doesnt work. As for love and respect for adults, in movies the questions are not raised properly and if raised are answered half heartedly. Very frankly, we have no clue on how to go about it. We are all learning, some by blindly following rituals , others by testing the borders of what is acceptable behaviour and people like me who are blessed with parents who just say it very openly when they feel ignored.😀

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      • Why are you so obessed with this “love for parent” theme?

        Most adults share very complex relationships with their parents. I’ve never seen any adult display unconditional, adoring love towards his/her parents all the time.

        There’s plenty of disagreement and resenment as well, and why not?

        I thought that the Hollywood movie One True Thing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_True_Thing) was a more realistic exploration of parent-adult child relationships than the soppy Baghban,

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  8. Financial education is, in general, lacking in India. There is little emphasis on building assets which actually make money for you, and provide you with income security. I know people who made huge money during their working lives and managed to save a very nice sum, only to spend most of it on something stupid, like a grand wedding party.

    India has a wonderful saving culture but a miserable investment/spending culture.

    I actually found Baghban terribly disappointing. The movie starts out as a hard-hitting commentary on a genuine problem, but soon devolves into a ridiculous tear fest with every scene milked for the maximum amount of stereotyping and melodrama possible.

    The story might have made sense if these were people who hadn’t had two pennies to rub together all their life and therefore had no way to plan for the future.

    What we see instead is an educated, comfortably middle-class man with a flourishing career, depending ENTIRELY on the goodwill of his sons to survive once his regular income stops. What a horribly naïve attitude! Even if your kids are completely devoted to you (which may not be the case for any number of reasons), there is no guarantee that they would be able to support you when you are old and cannot work.

    Instead of making any real point, the movie legitimizes this kind of naivete.

    Old age does not mean that you should have to beg and borrow for survival.

    I’ve had disagreements with my parents, but I have always acknowledged that they are brilliant at handling money. I am no longer an integral part of my family clan, but as an outside observer, I have seen them turn a relatively small amount of starting capital into enough wealth to keep the family happy (money wise) for a couple of generations. And my father never really depended on me or my brother (or sisters) for this. He did not approve of my leaving the family business, but my participation was not essential to his plans, and the fact that my brother chose to stay was a bonus. My parents makes no bones about the fact that they enjoy the good life, and that is just how it should be. Old age should not be some kind of punishment.

    As for the comment, it is a sweeping generalization that does not fit with (what I perceive to be) the reality today. The opposite situation is far more common. In any case, definitions of “reasonable” vary from person to person, and each couple must work out its own formula, preferably BEFORE they enter into the marriage. Money is one of the biggest causes of conflict in long term relationships, and it is important to clear the air about all things financial before tying the knot.

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    • Why anyone would vote this down is beyond me. I agree with absolutely everything you have said. Most importantly, “Old age should not be some kind of punishment.”

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  9. Agree with everything you’ve said, IHM.

    Could we also start talking about what could be some solutions, please? Which areas are we all so brainwashed in that we consciously step back and rethink things? I think we have enough of an audience in this blog to come up with some good answers – then hopefully future generations won’t need to rehash these situations!

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    • I am eager to see what others have to say here:)
      Personally, I would like to teach my daughter(still a toddler) to think independently. I always encourage her to put it in words what she is feeling when she is upset. And also I would want to tell her not to make it a goal in her life to please everybody(sadly that was what I was brainwashed into – to be a “good” DIL and not to disappoint them in anyway!). I want to make it clear that she only has control on what she thinks and how she acts/reacts and not on how the other person feels or behaves. And more importantly I hope that she learns to distinguish between whats acceptable and whats unacceptable in her life – in other words I hope she learns to set boundaries and hold her own.

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  10. So many people still look at women – daughters, more specifically, as ‘paraya dhan’ – like warming an egg in a nest and then giving it away. Disgusting. What worsens this already horriblattitude of woman = 24×7 butler is the ridiculous soaps on every channel on TV. I was watching an episode of CID the other day (I find it ridiculously amusing), and was waiting for the last 5-6 minutes of the previous show to end and CID to begin.

    The soap showed a young woman getting engaged to asdasdasdaa young guy (a roka ceremony was being held at a lavish looking residence), blushing for all she was worth. Her older sister looked proudly on, waiting for her own husband (who apparently had dated her younger sister in the past- I guess this is how TV soaps function!) to come home from work. Of course, she had dutifully laid out his sherwani on the bed for him to wear, but he is the grumbly sort who just does what he pleases (what a man, of course! //sarcasm) . Then she goes to the room and says “ji, agar aapko suit hi pehen na hai toh pehen lijiye, par aapke liye maine yeh sherwani press karke rakhi hai kyunki aap par suit hoti hai. Agar aapko pasand nahin toh doosra nikal ke rakh deti hoon aapke liye. ‘ And they’re encouraged to be this subsersevient, because it gets them the desired results, because 5 minutes later, out comes brooding husband, grudgingly wearing the ironed sherwani. Then they show a small clip indicating he’s still in love with the sister he dated, and the episode ends with our servile bahu saying “mujhe pata hai pehla pyaar bhulaya nahin jaa sakta, aur agar aap humse pyaar naa bhi karen, hum aapse hamesha pyaar karenge’. They are expected to function in a marriage like that. Obviously this is popular because these shows get TRPs – they just pick up stereotypes already in society and shove them back in their faces, making it harder and harder to eradicate them. Awful.

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  11. Am I the only one who finds the tradition of continually calling the husband “ji” ridiculous?

    I’m aware that some orthodox Indian women do not utter the name of their husbands, but no one ever seems to explain the reason behind this practice. Is this just out of superstitious beliefs or is it some twisted way of asserting male dominance?

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    • someone told me tht wife;s not supposed to take husband’s name… the more she says his name, shorter his life… something ridiculous like tht… apparantly its quite a common and popular superstition

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      • That does not make sense — Indian husbands holler their wives’ name a few hundred times every day.

        By how many years then is the poor woman’s life reduced? Ah, I know it doesn’t matter, does it?

        Unlike a husband, a wife is replaceable. No problemo!

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    • Oh, I find it positively idiotic. I’ve been brought up in a nuclear family in a metro, so I’ve never really seen it happening, and my mum and her folks were in a nuclear family too, seems to happen less in those than in joint families from what I’ve seen.

      Not uttering the name of the husband sounds seriously messed up, but it probably happens somewhere. Tons of people still have that image in their head of the perfect wife – ‘wakes up at the crack of dawn, pops out children, looks hot, has tea/dinner ready for the husband/great in bed etc.’ and somehow think they should aspire to that.

      Off the top of my head, the only explanation for these orthodox women not uttering the name of their husbands is something like Death Eaters/regular magic folk not referring to Voldemort by name😉

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      • Off the top of my head, the only explanation for these orthodox women not uttering the name of their husbands is something like Death Eaters/regular magic folk not referring to Voldemort by name

        I am not that well up in my Harry Potter, but something tells me that for a husband, this is not a flattering comparison.😉

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    • The reason is “respect.” *eyeroll*

      It’s similar to how a lot of classical musicians don’t take their guru’s name or when they do, touch their ears. My own mom never takes my dad’s name. When she addresses him, she does use an abbreviation of his name that’s for her exclusive use (I think she came up with it), but when she refers to him in conversation with others, it’s always “woh”😀 or TWC’s Dad. She hates him too much to refer to him as “ji,” though.

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      • My mother calls my father by his name, but she used to revert to “woh” and “aap” whenever my grandparents (her in-laws) were remotely within hearing range.

        Said in-laws are long dead now, so she’s free to call him whatever.

        I was rather shocked when I met a twenty-something associate with her husband at a social occasion recently, and she continuously called him “woh”, “aap” and “ji”. I swear it grated on my nerves.

        As a kid, my lessons in spoken Hindi included affixing the ‘ji’ honorific at the end of sentences while talking to or about people who were either social superiors (heh) or strangers.

        One might aptly wonder which category would apply to husbands in classical Indian marriages.

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    • Pt,
      I too find it ridiculous. esp in cases like mine when me and my husband studied in the same class. I still address him in ” tu, eda, poda” terms which is blasphemy for everyone including some other couples who were also our classmates in the same college. I also get regular baashans from all n sundry including my mom to call him with ” respect”.
      Oh … I have heard a ridiculous reason y husband ka naam nahi liya jaata… it apparently reduces the poor bloke’s lifeline and also in some joint families earlier spouses could not call each other by name/ talk in front of others. Also since in many cases the husband is generally older than the wife the practice continues.

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      • PT, I think it was more of respect…

        In the south of India, I know women call their husbands ‘mama’ They used to get married to their ‘mamas’ back then

        My MIL never calls my FIL by name…its funny when she has to call him sometimes she says ‘hello’

        On the other hand, my Amma calls my Appa by his short name pretty slangish infact..my nani was horrified when she came to visit Amma after marriage that Amma called Appa by his pet name….she was so upset that apparently she gave Amma a big lecture including how Appa was 8 years her senior yaada yaada…Amma was like well ‘he asked me to call him by name, so there I did’
        After that my nani didnt have anything to argue🙂

        and then when RD came to see me (ya yaa we had a proper arranged marriage with boy coming to see girl!) he and his cousin were also shocked when Amma called Appa by his name…he actually told me that🙂

        Which is funny because RD is like my generation (he is only 4 years older!) and yet he was astonished on how a woman can call her husband by name? anyways now I call RD by name even in front of my in laws (FIL and MIL were a bit upset earlier,but they dont say anything!) and go on to call him ‘da’ and ‘tu’ and what not…he doesnt care and neither do I🙂

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        • If my wife ever calls me “ji”, I think I will fall off the bed laughing.
          IHM, I agree, Baghban was disappointing. I did not like the idea of a guy in a job for so many years completely dependant on his sons after he retired.
          I do not expect my wife to love my parents as I do and vice versa. It might happen but it will take years. Also, she finds herself incapable of shouting at my parents the way she shouts at her mother and vice versa (yeah, both of us like to make our point). 🙂
          I believe its our insecurities that make us evil. Its not a chess game.

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        • I agree. Very true, //she finds herself incapable of shouting at my parents the way she shouts at her mother and vice versa//
          And if I call my husband ‘ji’ he’d fall off the bed laughing too🙂

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        • In Kerala, wives call their husbands “chetta” or older brother. Even my mom does this, even though I’ve made fun of her countless times. How incestuous. But she maintains that she’s used to it now and it’s too much trouble to change.

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  12. I am sorry IHM, but while reading the second half (or the part about Baghban, the scene between Hema Malini and her son & the Gajar Ka Halwa) all I could think was “But it was just a MOVIE!!!!!” Am I missing something here? Movies are never good examples to live your life by🙂 But then this is in response to your post on how you would have made Baghban, so maybe I should shut up😛

    As for Gajar Ka Halwa for daughters? I am one of those lucky daughters whose mother makes her gajar ka halwa and whose FATHER also used to make it for her. Kheer and rabdi too😀 Yum! This will be the third year my mother will be with us on my birthday and guess what will I be eating?😀

    This lighthearted banter apart, I have been reading your posts more than I have been commenting. Time constraints. I totally agree with your views. I don’t remember if it was you who said it, or someone else, but I agree that parents of girls seem to plan better for their old age than parents of sons. I have witnessed it first-hand. My husband’s parents have two sons and no daughters. They never saw the need to save for their old age because the sons are their 401K. Don’t get me wrong – my husband and I don’t mind supporting them or taking care of them. Not only do we don’t mind, we actually take this responsibility very sincerely and believe it is the right thing to do. But I also believe it is a parent’s duty to plan for his or her own old age and leave the least amount of financial burden for his/her kids. Many Indian parents (specially those of sons) don’t seem to get this.

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      • It’s kind of like a ‘chicken or egg’ situation. Did the serials propagate a backward mindset on a society that was improving? Or are the serials just spreading ideas that are already well entrenched in society?

        I personally think that media only exists if a market is present for it. If people were smart enough to let go of ridiculous, conservative philosophies, then the serials would fail miserably. However, people actively support these ideas, and so the nauseous productions continue….

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        • I think there are some who are conservative and fear change, some are generally indifferent, and there are some who are rational and face criticism for advocating change – some see these serials as light hearted entertainment, some see them as saviors of culture (not sure if I have met anybody who does that though…) and some see them for what they are, as propagating patriarchal ideals which lead to evils like girl baby hatred etc.

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        • I think K-serails tap into something very primordial in women’s pysche. I may not agree with them but I definitely identify with the protagonists.

          Which Indian woman could not but identify with the broad themes of K-serails?

          A distant, indifferent husband controlled by his parents. A hostile and interfering mother-in-law. Greedy, avaricious in-laws. Parents unable or unwilling to support a troubled daughter. Philandering husbands and helpless wives.

          They are popular because they offer ordinary women hope. Despite overwhelming odds, the female protagonist eventually triumphs over all those to oppose or undermine her.

          She teaches her erring in-laws a lessons; brings her errant husband to heel. Its the stuff dreams are made of.

          Is it any wonder that women tap into their messages of faux empowerment?

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  13. @EM I do laugh in my mind but then I think only spend a few days with them and if it makes her happy to think she is making me abide my her wishes let her think that. It doesn’t bother me at all.
    The problem with most Indian parents is they are good PROVIDERS but not PARENTS. They will feed their children, educate them, get them married. But forget to teach them the social skills that need to be learned to survive in the world. Sons are pampered and daughters are taught that they have to learn how to make chapatis or no man will marry them. And it is a vicious cycle, because our parents were brought up the same way so we do the same to our kids.

    My in laws had visited me some time ago and they were horrified to see my husband cleaning utensils. They quickly ran to the kitchen to help my poor husband and I jokingly had to tell them to back off and encourage their son to help his wife rather than pity him. I can imagine the horror stories they must have told to people back home on what a horrible DIL I am. I still laugh when I think of it. I wonder what they will think when they come now and see that their Poor son has Graduated to Vacuuming the house and making the bed ha ha ha…I usually tease my husband when he cribs about it.

    I also sometimes think that I am cool with there behavior because my husband is supportive. Not that he says anything to his parents of fights with them for me. He just never says anything to them or to me either. Once his sister said something to me which was unacceptable, my husband went told his parents off and his father broke all ties with us and did not even acknowledge me for a whole year. I however encouraged my husband to still talk to his parents but I stood my ground till finally they came around.

    I also support my parents financially. Every month come rain or hail I send money to my mother and my husband knows never to stop me because I will never stop. My parents are as important as his and I respect them equally.

    As you said we need to stop victimizing ourselves. I know everyone has different circumstances, some of us are privileged to get education and a mind that can make informed decisions. Others are not. But I feel everyone has an inner strength. There are examples of women like Banwri Devi who came from an oppressive male dominated society and took the men who raped her to court. Look at Kiran Bedi. We have examples all around us. So instead of cursing our luck and feeling like a bechari why don’t we make ourselves the masters of our own destiny.

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  14. Sorry for going off track IHM😉 It is easy to do so in a place where you have so many like minded people🙂

    However to come back to the original post it is important that parents plan for their future. My parents could not save for their old age and my sister in law who they live with reminds them on and off how they are living in her house and my own in laws saved a lot and remind me everytime how they do not need us.

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  15. You are right IHM.. Hema Malini’s character was the worst depiction I believe, and too bad the movie was a hit.. And to top it all, Amitabh Bachchan in the movie works in a bank, and is poor at securing his own future. Blah !😐

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  16. One way to fix patriarchy is to raise the next generation right. Kids learn from example. Raise our sons and daughters fairly, teach them to be self sufficient, teach them to be fair, teach them money mgmt skills, teach them that men and women are different but equal and finally. Set them FREE when they are adults. And follow everrything you taught then yourself.

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  17. Raghav, you seem to be put out that noone is giving you the answer that you were looking for and condemning the evil DIL. Amusingly, you even told us what the “correct” answer should be in the comments and still noone obliged. Here, let me put you out of your misery and say it – If a woman, unprovoked, keeps instigating her husband against her parents, she is wrong.

    Keep in mind though that most Indian DILs are subject to, at best, taunts and at worst, out and out harassment and torture by their in-laws with the MIL acting as the executive arm of the harassment brigade. Most Indian wives start a marriage with the bad taste of dowry in their mouths. So, maybe you can understand why DILs find it hard to react like angels to thier MILs. You’d also think that many sons would be turned off by their parents for behaving like this towards their wives but that doesn’t happen so much.

    It’s not really a matter of if the son is nice to his wife’s parents, she should be nice to his parents too. Son-in-laws generally get the royal treatment from their in-laws, so it should be natural that they are nice to them. Daughter-in-laws not so much.

    Now, the movie. I haven’t watched it but from what is described above, it seems terribly cliched and one-dimensional. Evil Dils are nothing new in Hindi cinema. Neither is society jumping to condemn evil Dils. It would have been more interesting if the movie presented some background and motivation to the characters. Why does the daughter-in-law react this way? Why did the son? I’m sure there are more nuances to people than just modern-therefore-evil.

    In the absence of any background, one might assume the commonplace scenario in Indian households. Dil is harassed by Mil, who is obsessed with her son and securing his affections. Then, the Dil’s behaviour, while not exemplary, doesn’t seem to irrational, does it?

    Also, in the real world, many people would be embarassed if their mother/father/sister/brother/child turned up at their office without warning on their birthday with gajjar halwa. It’s kind of not the done thing which is why most people don’t do it. But I guess this movie is not about the real world.

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    • Thanks, your genuine concern is well appreciated but I chose not to be the recipient of your misdirected philanthropic efforts for I am quite capable of pulling myself out of misery if at all there’s any. You needn’t waste your effort on me.

      And since you earnestly believe in lending a helping hand to people, then please go ahead by volunteering for work with any of the social welfare organisations which assist our brothers & sisters who are in pain and they will certainly thank you for it.

      I didn’t ask anyone here to oblige me because I don’t believe in asking for favours from random strangers on a virtual blogspace.

      I wrote the entire description to focus on the pain of a mother who’s hurt by an ungrateful, heartless and a disrespectful son and not to label the DIL as some homewrecker. It’s just a coincidence that the scene did have such a DIL but that wasn’t my reason for selection of the movie scene.

      It’s a surprise (& I am definitely not feeling amused now) the way you soften your stance when you offer your opinion about the wrongs commited by DIL.

      It’s absolutely fine for you/anyone to lay down the prerequisite condition ( ie. the DIL shouldn’t be provoked by the in-laws) in order for her to behave decently with her in-laws but I have serious issues with the idea that only if the DIL repeatedly incites her husband against her in-laws, should she be held wrong.

      Shouldn’t single such wrong act of the DILs intense enough to be labelled as corrupt & unworthy of any sympathy/forgiveness?
      Are you ready to offer the same sympathy towards the husband & his family who if unprovoked continue to mistreat the wife/DIL?

      You feel that the DIL starts her wedding with a bad taste in her mouth, if it is so, she can choose to marry a man who’s unwilling to accept dowry.

      I can also say that all the expensive jewellery that the DIL gets (which as per the tradition is purchased & gifted to her by the husband’s family) leaves her in-laws with a bad taste but I don’t want to say so.

      And, what about all the family jewels which rightfully becomes hers, yes after several years and wait, doesn’t she have an eye on the in-laws house/property which in most of the cases she and her husband get to enjoy and is also legally bequeathed to them.

      I have never been able to understand those women who label the love &
      concern the mothers have for their sons as obsession and such DILs consider it as form of torture being inflicted on them.

      How can a mother’s love for the DIL’s husband (who is obviously her son) ever be equated to mistreatment/harassment of the DIL. Sounds very strange to me.

      The husband’s family can’t stop loving their son/sibling (as per the relationship) just because a new member has entered his life after marriage. If you believe so then that’s wrong.

      Kindly read the scene description again, you seem to be confused. The son doesn’t even know that the mother has come to his office with a dessert that she specially prepared for him and refuses to meet her (by making own false assumption) and you are doing the same here.
      He only gets to know about his mother’s intention when he returns home later in the evening and it’s then that he feels embarrassed as he refused to even meet her. (he actually wouldn’t have had any problems meeting his mom in his office if he knew that she had come with a dessert)

      And so since the ‘halwa’ issue has now been resolved, I don’t think anyone needs to get/does get embarrassed if his/her family member turns up at the office to meet him/her that too not on a regular basis but on a special occassion like a birthday.

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      • “I wrote the entire description to focus on the pain of a mother who’s hurt by an ungrateful, heartless and a disrespectful son and not to label the DIL as some homewrecker. It’s just a coincidence that the scene did have such a DIL but that wasn’t my reason for selection of the movie scene.” I wrote the entire description to focus on the pain of a mother who’s hurt by an ungrateful, heartless and a disrespectful son and not to label the DIL as some homewrecker. It’s just a coincidence that the scene did have such a DIL but that wasn’t my reason for selection of the movie scene.”

        Well, I misunderstood you then. The first two paragraphs of the post talked about “evil daughter-in-laws” and so I assumed your description of Baghban related to that.

        “I have serious issues with the idea that only if the DIL repeatedly incites her husband against her in-laws, should she be held wrong.” Er, where did I say that?

        The rest of it, Raghav, it seems to me that you don’t have or don’t want to have enough knowledge of how the Indian marriage system works. I am one of those who married without dowry, but I am aware that I am rare, rare because I had a choice. And although I made it clear my parents would not pay dowry, my mother-in-law still felt obliged to tell my mother to make some gold for me because you know, the village people in Kerala won’t understand if I don’t have any gold.

        You must be joking when you talk about the jewellery made for the bride. It’s a token gift, nothing compared to what the bride is expected to bring in. For Indian women, there is no such thing as a free lunch. And if she is given jewellery, she knows what is expected of her in return. You can read the post today to understand why a DIL might have her eye on the in-laws house… because the husband has expended his life savings on that house. Most DILs would rather not depend on the largesse of their parents-in-law for a house or have to wait their whole lives for a house.

        “I have never been able to understand those women who label the love & concern the mothers have for their sons as obsession and such DILs consider it as form of torture being inflicted on them.” Yes, you don’t understand because you haven’t experienced it. DILs don’t consider the love of a mother for her son torture; they find the competitive and insecure behaviour MILs indulge in with them over their sons weird and unsettling. Our parents love us too… but they resort to make mean comments about our husbands etc. to express that love.

        By the way, I’m the mother of a son and I know how easy it would be to fall into that kind of behaviour. So I have promised myself to prepare for my son moving on with his life well so I don’t ever stoop to this nonsense.

        “The husband’s family can’t stop loving their son/sibling (as per the relationship) just because a new member has entered his life after marriage.” Agree. One would hope they would find better ways of expressing their love for their sons than making mean comments to their daughter-in-laws.

        And yes, I misunderstood the scene. And I agree the son should have met his mother and if he didn’t, then he should have been nicer to her about it. But I still think the whole thing reeks of cliché. I think the same about Titanic too by the way.

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  18. no gajar ka halwa for daughter in law . I think aren’t we going a bit overboard? Mother is the first nourisher of a being and even after a person grows up tries to maintain that bond between herself and her kids. In the context of the scene- the birthday and her remembrance and celebration of it through the basic gesture of a mother- feeding … no doubt the child’s favorite dish, I think that summed up the situation so well in the film, The child- grown up ofcourse , refused to acknowledge the emotion behind the gesture, completing the cutting off , of all ties with the mother- the gajar ka halwa serving as a symbol of the love of the mother for her child. Saying why she doesn’t feed it to daughter in law…. what bond she has with her?
    On other issues of care and affection shown to family members , I think Indian society has always been caring towards earning and responsible members. Why just talk about mother in law’s behavior towards daughter in law , even sons in law have to bear disrespect and taunts if jobless or in anyway inferior to the family of the daughter. No preferential treatments there.
    Anyone saw the movie Kora kagaz, where the mother successfully breaks up the daughter’s marriage to the person she considers as her socially inferior?

    Me – Kora Kagaz and Phagun give the same message – that parents should not interfere in the lives of married children – but only if the child is a girl-child. As shown in Bhaghban and numerous other movies, Indian society sees it as normal for parents to interfere (decide when the couple has children, how their house is run, how they dress etc) in married children’s lives, in case of male children. This despite the fact, that (like you pointed out)”Saying why she doesn’t feed it to daughter in law…. what bond she has with her?”

    And if “Indian society has always been caring towards earning and responsible members” – then is it fair to expect it as a right that some people would give up their jobs, relocate etc? And should those who gives up career opportunities be compensated? About ‘responsible members’ – isn’t it true that some family members have only responsibility but no/very few rights?

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    • IHM, Neeti’s true colors came right through when he/she said, “Saying why she doesn’t feed it to daughter in law…. what bond she has with her?”

      Exactly. Play fair Neeti.

      Like

      • Dear Biwo,

        Do you mean to say that mother in law is the mother of the daughter in law? It is dangerous to take statements out of context. A mother and child bond is special . A mother in law and daughter in law bond can also be special in its own way.

        BTW, IHM I liked the quotes that you have in your home page. good choice.

        Like

    • Personally, I felt Kora Kagaz was a lot more equitable than many other movies of that time. The squabbles are totally believable, with each spouse being totally caught up in the emotion of the moment (Aren’t most fights like that?).
      The wife gets a divorce, and is not shunned by anyone. She gets to live in her parents’ house once more. (Albeit there is a bit of preaching by the elders, but that is expected, and not overbearing).
      The reconciliation is also believable. She misses her ex-husband whom she married for love. To me, the best moment of the movie was when they meet by chance at the railway station, and she opens old wounds – “Tell me, was it all my fault?” To which he responds, “Some of it was yours, some of it was mine, and some of it was both.”

      Instead, If it were to be a common ending : She would tell her mother off, and rush back to her husband, and they both would lament how cruel this ‘duniya’ and ‘duniyawale’ are.

      I really like how the ‘blame’ rests on the shoulders of those making the choices (i.e, the husband & wife), not on those who are outside the boxing ring (in-laws, society etc).

      Like

  19. Hi IHM,

    I was reading all the comments so just felt sharing this, I got married 2 months before and this was an inter-caste marriage. I was brought up in very modern environment where I have lived my life independently, used to wear clothes which I liked and is comfortable in…. after marriage things changed for me…. Husband expected me to get comfortable/ acquainted with his parents and new house in 15 days of my marriage… I got shocked to see many things …Like, “Bahu ho tum now without taking bath you should not enter the kitchen, you should get up early by 6 clean your bed clothes and get ready and do puja and then you can eat.”

    Once I was leaving for my office I was wearing watch in one hand and bangle (which is very compulsory) in one hand… I told my in law on formals I cannot wear bangles in two hands as I cannot leave my house without watch she said its okay, but one day me and husband was leaving for the office she taunted me, “Arrey why you don’t wear bangles if you don’t wear it then bad will happen to your husband you should wear bindi or your husband’s life will get short you should always wear toe ring or it is ashubh…” I don’t understand this. Infact I was shocked after knowing that even my husband who is well educated and so modern still believes in all this because his mother is always right she will be the last person to think or do anything bad to us…

    Also the pressure of looking good always is irritating sometime on weekends i just want to be myself but she wills how in front of my husband she care for me a lot and I’m irresponsible and I don’t take care of myself or of him…

    I feel husbands should stop being the invisible factor just because they are comfortable and feel proud in dominating his wife… Result of all this is me and my husband end up fighting and now we get irritate on each other😦

    And i agree the problem is Patriarchy … A male friend can understand his friend’s problem but same male will never understand his wife😦

    Like

    • ” because his mother is always right she will be the last person to think or do anything bad to us…”

      That’s what most men will have you believe, ‘She is a mother, her only aim is our good’. Stuff and nonsense. Mother is also a human and can have the same drawbacks as any other human. Being a mother does not make anyone magically perfect human. We become good of our own will, not because we give birth.

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  20. I am really sorry, but though I know this is a ‘serious’ topic we are dealing with here, I can only laugh at the whole scene described in the comment, along with the whole ‘evil DILs’ and how they turn their sons against their loving mothers theory derived out of it!

    I mean, seriously? Please tell me this is all in jest! Quoting a scene from a SUPER cliched Bollywood movie is your way of justifying how women do not want their husbands to take care of their families? Really? Ok, since we are talking of corny, unbelievably dumb and stereotypical concepts out here, why not start quoting scenes from all possible K serials? Kyunki saas bhi anyone? Or any of those numerous shady movies where the tyrannical MILs torture their DILs? Er, thanks, but no thanks. Because that is plain duh.

    The whole concept of women trying to support her parents has become such a topic of discussion , only because it is not seen as something obvious in our society, like a man supporting his parents is. Also, I am dead sure, that if someone states their right to be there for her/his parents, they would definitely understand and stand by their spouse doing the same for his/hers, because that is what a normal person would do.Whether it is a man or a woman is secondary. Period.

    Else, well you’re dealing with one sided fictional characters from our amazing serials and movies. And we all know how ‘genuine’ and ‘realistic’ those are.

    Like

    • My intention behind writing down the scene from Baghban in my post wasn’t to propagate/incite any feelings of hatred towards DILs. The wrote it down simply because it seems to have etched in my memory forever and I thought it would be nice to share it here. One of the questions that was posed by me is not even related to that scene, it didn’t even occur to me (that a strong relation would be drawn out) when I penned down that sentence.
      I had to describe the movie scene & furnish all the details about the people involved regardless of ‘who the tormentor was’ (the son/his wife or both) as that was the only way I could do justice to entire scene and draw attention to the sentiments of a mother who’s been hurt by her own kids.
      It’s an inference that you have made and I have little , rather no control over it.
      You have singled out my comment on this forum maligning it as a derogatory remark that goes against DILs and you chose NOT to offer your fair opinion to those who have engaged in accusing/bashing the husband and his family as the sole perpetrator of crimes against the DILs under the assumption that reverse is generally not true & this is a sureshot indicator that you are the one ascribing to a popular stereotype wherein the MIL/in-laws is/are always painted as the ‘oppressor(s)’ and the ‘DIL’ as the ‘oppressed’.

      If I was interested in painting the DILs as wicked women, I could have also peppered my description with the same colourful adjectives that you have used to describe MILs (characters) portrayed on screen in your comment.

      Well, I have now realised that I truly deserve a pat on my back with a ‘thanks’ (I am not even asking for a standing ovation or a resounding applause; I am too modest to accept that gesture in appreciation of my efforts) for offering a balanced approach towards relationships and dynamics involved therein because the scene described by me seems to have served an additional purpose (as I have mentioned that I had no such intention for I only wished to focus only on the loss of love & respect for one’s parents among some adults) – Adopting a holistic view.

      I found Baghban to be rare gem that surfaces only once in many years in Bollywood offering a very realistic portrayal of life and convincing performances by many of its actors; and how many Bollywood movies have released that focus on themes of filial love & gratitude for one’s parents?
      – very few in stark comparision to the movies belonging to the genre romance/ action /comedy (read: slapstick comedy)

      If you found it to cliched, it’s fine, you are entitled to your opinion as I am to mine.

      Please read my comments again, I made a reference to K-soaps only as a response to someone who remarked that he/she hasn’t encountered any scene on TV where a woman slaps her husband & I said I definitely have, in those K-soaps. (that doesn’t imply that I believe in the storylines which are dished out by such soaps)

      I also feel that your conviction is misplaced because sadly, people assume a completely different persona when it comes to the treatment that should be accorded to the spouse’s parents (by the spouse) even if they love & respect their own.

      Like

    • @DI

      I fail to understand that why am I being even being accused of deliberating quoting scene from a ‘cliched’ (fine, if you feel so about the movie but I don’t feel so) movie ‘Baghban’ with the intention of extracting a false theory out of it.

      Please read the comment again and about the place where it was originally posted.

      I had commented under the head ‘If I made Baghban’ that was posted by IHM. It is natural & quite obvious that I would be discussing about the movie Baghabn’s plotline, scenes, my thoughts & feelings related to it inesponse to the post created by IHM that has been which was devoted to the discussion of the film.

      I could have discussed other movies too but my main focus will be Baghban since the post was created by IHM with that intention in mind on this blog. So, that explains my choice.

      On second thought, I now feel that if the MIL would have been depicted as a negative character in the Baghban scene, then certainly many people here would have considered it to be a realistic portrayal of the relationships in India and the scene would have struck a chord in many-a-heart. (it’s good if you wouldn’t have felt the same)

      Like

      • @Raghav My bad. I did not see where the comment originated, and read it as a post in itself, which is why I found it quite strange that we were coming down to using sequences from movies to justify stereotypes in the society.

        That being said, I would still stress that the exaggerated emotions being shown in any movie/serials are not worth quoting to depict the character of a particular group of people, be it mothers, daughters, MILs or DILs.

        And I highly doubt if the scene would have had have more appreciators if it was the MIL was torturing the DIL. Perhaps there would be a set of DILs nodding along to that, but the number wouldn’t be greater than the set of MILs who would have felt that the scene from this movie was realistic.

        Like

        • I didn’t use the movie scene to justify stereotypes in society. I mentioned it because it brought in raw emotions & I felt a compulsive urge to share those feelings

          Maybe I subconsciously wanted readers to ponder about how wrong it is to hurt one’s parents by focusing on the pain of a mother who’s been hurt by her unconcerned adult kids for no rhyme or reason.

          There are times when the love & concern of a parent is misunderstood by the adult kids and they even fail to acknowledge that they are committing a grave mistake by doing so.

          The mother just brought the dessert (which she had fondly cooked for him inspite of the way he had been treated her earlier) for her son who misunderstood her intention of coming to the office and without even try to ascertain the cause, he rebuked her mother & mistreated her.

          And on top of that, he didn’t even apologize, after his mother offered clarification even though he knew that was wrong. His wife too joined him in humiliating the mother and this was described just to focus on her extreme pain and helplessness that she might have felt at that moment of time and later.

          Like

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