The Married Woman review: Melodrama and monologues kill the charm
Based on Manju Kapur’s book by the same name, web series The Married Woman landed online on Monday, International Women’s Day. It stars Monica Dogra and Ridhi Dogra in lead roles. Directed by Sahil Raza, it also features Imaaduddin Shah, Suhaas Ahuja.
Set in the early 90s when homosexuality was a crime in the law’s eye and a joke for the society, the show explores the life of a middle-class woman who is living the 'perfect' life. Astha is college professor who has a loving and well-settled husband (Suhaas) who cares for her, a professional life as a college teacher and a loving family that includes two kids and kind in-laws. However, the 'perfection' loses its appeal when she meets a young man, Aijaaz (lmaaduddin) in college who advocates freedom of choice and aims at blurring all lines of religion, gender and caste. She falls for him, meets his wife (Monica) and discovers her sexuality and individuality.
Despite a promising and gripping storyline, the show fails to tie you in. Spread across 11 episodes, it seems needlessly stretched. More often than not, there is over-simplification, excessive explanation of what the character feel, think or the relationship they live. Be it Astha or Peeplika or Aijaaz or Hemant, each character goes into mundane and detailed monologues when a few crisp lines would have done the work more powerfully.
The show is mostly stereotypical in its portrayal of religions stigma and sexuality. A mother who unwillingly had her daughter marry into a family that practises another religion, wants to know from her newly-wed daughter is whether her in-laws offer namaz or not. Another woman is in the mood to have sheer korma instead of pakoras, because the family she is visiting had a daughter marry into a Muslim family.
Even the political backdrop of 1992 riots and Babri Masjid demolition seem like mere prop. Instead of making any statement, or even showing the sufferings of the victims, the show simply uses it to increase the number of things the heroine, Astha, needs to fight in order to get to her love.
The book, much like most of Manju Kapoor’s work, explores emotional turmoils of a middle-class woman stuck in the safety of typical patriarchal families. The show’s sole achievement lies in portraying some of these these very turmoils to the point. Mostly in the last few episodes, the whirlwind of emotions that Astha maybe going through while trying to choose between the responsibilities of her family and her own happiness, come out well.
If you plan on spending nearly eleven hours to watch the show, you may count on some good acting. Monica and Ridhi try their best to live the characters fully, despite the limitations of the script. Ayesha Raza, who plays Astha’s sister-in-law deserves special mention as she manages to leave an impact, even though her screen time and dialogues are quite limited.