How did I come across this movie?
I first heard about the movie “Mukherjee Da’r Bou” from its unique promotional style. Women of different ages were asked, “Where is your home?” Most were confused and asked for clarification: “Baper bari na Soshur bari?” (Are you asking about my father’s home or in-laws’ house?) Sadly, none answered confidently. A few questioned back, “Do we women really have a home of our own? Before marriage it’s our fathers’, after marriage it’s our husbands’ or in-laws’“. Some said, “After marriage, husband’s home became my home too…” Working or not, young or old, most could not call her husband’s or her father’s place her own confidently. Everyone knows that blue three-story building around the corner by Mr. Mukherjee’s name—even though another person has contributed just as much to make it a home.
Who is the other person? Mrs. Mukherjee. Yeah. People don’t know her real name either, like with the house. Society and even she have forgotten her true identity.
The story begins with the death of Mr. Ishwar Chandra Mukherjee, the senior-most member of the Mukherjee family. His son, Sashwata, worked as a government employee and his wife Aditi was a housewife. They had been married for 10 years and had a beautiful daughter named Ichhe.
Shobharani, Sashwata’s mother, was devastated after her husband’s death and her behavior towards her daughter-in-law became increasingly bitter day by day. Shobharani couldn’t sleep alone in her bedroom after her husband passed away; so Sashwata asked Aditi to sleep with his mother at night. For a few days Aditi tried to make Ichhe sleep with her instead but at midnight Shobharani would knock on the door and ask Aditi to come back to bed with her – which she never denied. Despite this show of affection towards them both, Shobharani still seemed ruthless when it came to Aditi; however, no one could understand why she disliked her so much.
I hated Shobharani’s character for the first half of the movie. I couldn’t sympathize with her at all. One day, when she complained about her health, the doctor suggested that her son and daughter-in-law seek help from a psychiatrist. She was physically fine but old, depressed, lonely and insecure. In typical middle class families where people prefer to take paracetamol for every health issue, seeking help from a psychiatrist is not welcome. Sashwata dismissed the doctor’s suggestion by saying his mom was fine and didn’t need a “doctor for mad people.”
One day, during a heated argument between Aditi and her mother-in-law, the latter threw a rolling pin in frustration and accidentally hurt Ichchhe. Aditi rushed to the hospital with her injured daughter and realized things were getting out of control. She hid this from her husband and accepted all accusations of being an irresponsible mother. Unlike Sashwata, Aditi understood the need for therapy. She tried to trick her mother-in-law by saying Aratrika (the psychiatrist) was a physiotherapist, but soon after arriving there the truth was exposed. Shobharani scolded Aditi for deceiving her and refused to attend sessions. The first day of therapy went to waste, but gradually Shobharani began taking an interest in it – it gave her a chance to express herself; she could finally talk to someone about her frustrations, mainly concerning Aditi as daughter-in-law.
Aditi also began attending sessions with her mother-in-law’s company. She was just as upset with her mother-in-law. Dr. Aratrika helped them both to discuss their decade of disappointment and bad feelings. Shobharani expected Aditi to treat her like a mother, but she wasn’t treating Aditi like a daughter either. The therapist helped Shobharani and Aditi understand each other’s perspectives and explained how Shobharani had been unfair to Aditi all the time.
One day, Saswata found out about the therapy and rebuked his wife for not taking his permission. He never took care of the house or family members’ needs, except earning money; Aditi was the one to buy everything from groceries to medicines. For the first time, Shobharani supported Aditi in front of her son. The therapy not only helped reduce tension between Aditi and Shobharani but also enabled them to reimagine themselves outside the name “Mrs. Mukherjee.”
Aditi struggled and desperately searched for a job, telling her good friend how many times she had sent her CV to different schools but never heard anything back. When the therapy sessions brought the two Mrs. Mujherjees together, Aditi found old appointment letters hidden by her husband who didn’t want her to work. He had an “okayish” job and didn’t want Aditi to be financially independent. Shocked by this truth, she remained silent and did not confront him.
On Women’s Day, a small event was organized and Dr. Aratrika nominated Shobharani to get on stage and give a speech. It had been her childhood dream to perform on the stage, and she finally got the opportunity. She spoke about herself, women in general, and confessed that she had hidden her daughter-in-law’s appointment letters—with her son knowing all along and helping her with it. Aditi didn’t feel rage this time; instead, she was calm and cool.
My reaction to the movie:
I rarely watch Bengali movies, but I’m glad I did this time. The movie perfectly depicted the life of a lower-middle class family. It showed how hard it is for women to succeed when they have to face two sets of obstacles: against other women, and against society in general. Shobharani had been taught that men – her father, brother, husband and son – were superior to women; she thought it was unrealistic for a woman to forge her own path. Her ignorance and lack of warmth meant she unintentionally passed this attitude on to Aditi, who was married to her son and just as educated as him. Throughout the movie Aditi reminded me of my own mother who gave up her job after marriage and has regretted it ever since.
I recommended Mom watch the movie, and she could relate to the plot. It’s a good movie—not for guys who find their educated, working wives a threat to their inflated egos!
Over all I’d rate this movie 8.9 out 10 for such a realistic plot and excellent performance by the entire cast.
That’s all for today, you can check out more movie reviews (English and Hindi)