Available On: ALTBalaji and ZEE5
The Married Woman is the story of a teacher who leads a seemingly perfect life with her husband, children and in-laws. She experiences an extraordinary journey of self-discovery when she meets her colleague and his wife. She realises her identity goes much beyond that of a dutiful wife, a doting mother and an obedient daughter-in-law. In the backdrop of ruthless communal riots and societal norms, she finds her life unexpectedly intertwined with another woman who appears to be starkly different from her, but is struggling to fight her own battles. The 11-episode series, which is based on author Manju Kapur's book A Married Woman, aims to unravel a woman's journey to embrace and discover herself in a new light.
What's Yay: The performances, background score and production design.
What's Nay: The shoddy editing.
Astha (Ridhi Dogra) is a college teacher who juggles to be the perfect wife, mother and daughter-in-law. With time, she experiences the spark losing from her marriage and is reduced to just dutifully serving her family, keeping aside her own desires and identity. Her husband Hemant (Suhaas Ahuja) fails to comprehend the longing in his wife's heart to be loved and desired.
Astha's life gains a new perspective when she meets Aijaz (Imaaduddin Shah) who enables her to unveil herself in a new light. She finds herself forming an endearing connection with him during her path to self-discovery. However, when he does not reciprocate her feelings, she unexpectedly bonds with his wife Peeplika (Monica Dogra) due to a fateful turn of events. What forms is a passionate attraction and a heart-to-heart affiliation between the two women amidst the societal norms and communal unrest.
Sahir Raza has skillfully brought to light various aspects like patriarchy, communal tension, societal norms and judgments, and sexuality in an intricate manner in The Married Woman. He has added the right amount of depth and intensity in his central protagonists and successfully highlights their actions and inner battles.
Writers Aparna Nadig, Jaya Misra and Surabhi Saral make some of the dialogues act as the most accurate catalyst in depicting the state of mind of the characters. Be it Astha's dilemma, Eijaz's liberalism, Peeplika's passion or Hemant's patriarchal approach, the director has carved the subtle nuances in the personality of his pivotal protagonists.
The social stigma surrounding sexuality, inter-caste marriages, homosexuality and religious boundaries have been dealt with in a complex manner in The Married Woman. Some of the dialogues which depict the shattering of preconceived notions around love, religion and sexuality appear to be hard-hitting and create an impact. The point that the series lacks is the editing, which adds to a laborious pace.
The series also fails to give a strong justification for Astha's sudden attraction towards Peeplika, which looks a little unconvincing and confusing. In some parts, The Married Woman does not imbibe a new approach in dealing with some issues, thus appearing stereotypical. The show also does not deal with the backdrop of the communal tension which is reduced to a mere scenario.
The performances are inevitably the main highlight of the show. Ridhi Dogra is the show-stealer, as she brings the right amount of depth and intensity to her character. Be it as a wife shackled in a claustrophobic marriage or as a woman trying to free herself while recognising her desires, she sinks her teeth into her character effortlessly. The fourth-wall kind of narration from her character further enables the viewers to connect with her feelings and emotions.
Monica Dogra does a fine job of bringing passion and vulnerability to her character, while being a free spirit. Imaad Shah as the liberal Aijaz looks convincing and creates a strong impact during his otherwise brief screen time. Suhaas Ahuja's act as the patriarchal and orthodox Hemant is real and compelling. The supporting cast fits perfectly in its roles.
The production design by Maurya and Vivek Prakash wins big and acts as an efficient catalyst in the plotline and character development of The Married Woman. The cinematography by John Wilmor, especially when it comes to depicting the artistic sequences of Peeplika's paintings, or Astha and Eijaz bonding over a controversial college play, is also a huge plus point.
The Married Woman title song 'Bematlab' by Amrita Bagchi, which also adds as an occasional background score, is pleasing to the ear and also unfolds some riveting lyrics.
Experience this one to relive a woman's journey of self-discovery and recognising her desires and identity. Even with some stereotypical approach, the series tries to put forth its message with some strong performances. We give The Married Woman 3 out of 5 stars.