By Priyaankaa Mathur
Ridhi Dogra and Monica Dogra staring tale of two women, “The Married Woman” produced by Alt Bajaji on Zee5, is indeed an eye-opener for all those who think of finding love outside the marriage in the name of freedom of soul, or even if it’s love beyond gender. The question is why an Indian marriage is shown so feeble, which is considered as an institution in our Indian tradition,had it been so, how has it lasted for centuries in our country. Ekta Kapoor the relationship queen has done a great job this time, in bringing forth both sides of the same coin in this interesting tale, leaving the viewers to decide which side to choose!
Astha Kapoor (Ridhi Dogra) the protagonist who’s shown as the married women in the series is a conventional dutiful, ever sacrificing wife married to Hemant (Suhaas Ahuja) for 11 years.She’s also a mother of two kids and an ideal daughter in law. While she happens to work in a college,she is attracted by a liberal thinking theatre director Aijaaz Khan (Imaad Shah), who comes to direct the script written by her for a college play Romeo & Juliet.
Eventually, they get to know each other,she being a conservative typical Indian housewife working in a college, and he a well-read poet and an art connesseur kinds, she gets intrigued with the way he thinks and lives life.
Aijaaz recites to her some excerpts from Ahmed Faraz’s poetry and also gifts her a book. She starts feeling a strong attraction towards him as he influences her with his strong thoughts and idealism to live life with absolute freedom.Well, to him love is something beyond any boundaries, which chain the human existence, boundaries of religion caste and creed,which he also depicted through directing the play Romeo and Juliet, transforming it from a Romantic drama to a Political saga.
Meanwhile, his wife Peeplika Khan (Monika Dogra) who is again a liberated modern US returned artist, comes to watch his play. He tells her about Astha who confesses her feelings for him a while ago, but he told her that he was committed to his wife.
Eventually, his thoughts cost him his own life, as he dies on the same night of the play in a car bomb blast by his own community, who consider him as an imposter.The Hindu Muslim tension over the Babri Masjid issue goes on in the backdrop of the story.
After his death, Astha meets Peeplika Khan (Monika Dogra) who now knows about Astha’s feelings for her dead husband, who comes to give her his paycheque on behalf of the college. In fact, by now both the women were in love with a dead man’s philosophy and so they try to identify a rescuer in each other, become friends and eventually share intimate moments.
Peepli who’s a step ahead of her husband again succeds in influencing Astha about the freedom of loving a soul, she being a pan sexual being, the one who is attracted to a person’s soul irrespective of one’s gender. Eventually, Astha fells in love with her, while she starts feeling her freedom for the first time in those moments,when they are together.
Astha’s husband Hemant believes strongly in the Integrity of the Indian marriage, and despite knowing about her affair with Peepali Khan from his sister, keeps his faith in the relationship.He ignores all her faults, forgives her and protects her in many situations. Until comes the day, when Astha comes to know the reality how she was being manipulated by Peepali to decide and fly away with her to Paris, leaving her children, family and everything behind.
Astha realises that she doesn’t need another relationship to get manipulated again, while she felt the same with her husband and her family.Even then she had no freedom of deciding on her own, and thus was searching for that momentary happiness outside of her marriage, which was unreal. She then decides to leave Peepli and gets back to Hemant with a new vision, while now she realised the importance of fulfilling her happiness along with the family.
At the beginning of the series, Astha listens to her consciousness reacting to Aijaaz’s views on breaking the boundaries says, “Akhir Laxman Rekha tod ke Sita ko kya mila”?…but later she dares to break it free, to enter another hell, which she fortunately escaped. She comes to know that Peepli was a liar who had played with many women, breaking many families, which opens up in the end…The series leaves food for thought and an open question to the audiences….which way to go???
While the script has it’s limitations you can count on some good acting by Monica, Ridhi Dogra and Ayesha Raza, who’s certainly made an impact with her expressions playing Astha’s sister-in-law,inspite of her few scenes and limited dialogues.