How did I come across this movie?
First I came to know about the movie “Mukherjee Da’r Bou” from its really unique style of promotion. Women of different age groups were asked a simple question, “Where is your home?”
Many of the women were confused at first and asked the interviewer for clarification “Baper bari na Soshur bari?” (means are you asking about my father’s home or in-laws’ house?) Sadly enough, none of the women answered confidently. Few questioned back, “Do we women really have a home of our own? Before marriage, it’s our fathers’ house, after marriage it’s our husbands’ or in-laws’ house.”
Some said, “After marriage, husband’s home became my home too…”
Working or not, young or old, most of the women could not call her husband’s or her father’s home as her “own” home confidently. A house is known by its male owner’s name. Everybody knows that blue 3 storeyed building around the corner by Mr. Mukherjee’s name, even though there is another person who has contributed no less than him to make that building “a home”.
Who is the other person?
Mrs. Mukherjee. Yeah. Like the house, people don’t know Mrs. Mukherjee’s real name too. Her own identity has been lost and forgotten by the society and herself as well.
The story begins with the death of Mr. Ishwar Chandra Mukherjee, the senior most member of Mukherjee family. His son, Sashwata Mukherjee worked as a Govt. employee. His wife Aditi was house-wife. They were married for 10 years and they had a beautiful daughter named Ichhe. Sashwata’s mother Shobharani was devastated after her husband’s death and her behavior towards her daughter-in-law started bittering day by day.
Shobharani couldn’t sleep alone in her bed-room after her husband had passed away. Sashwata asked his wife Aditi to sleep with her at night. Few days Aditi tried to make her little daughter sleep with her but at midnight her mother-in-law would knock the door and ask her to come. Aditi never denied. But Shobharani was still ruthless to her. She loved her son, she was so affectionate towards her daughter-in-law but when it came to Aditi, she just couldn’t stand her. The reason of her hatred wasn’t clear.
To be honest for the first half of the movie, I hated Shobharani’s character, I couldn’t sympathize with her for anything.
Oneday she was complaining about her health and doctor suggested her son and daughter-in-law to seek help from a psychiatrist. Shobharani was physically fine but she was old, depressed, lonely and insecure. In a typical middle class family where people prefer to take paracetamol for every freaking health-issue, the reference of a psychiatrist is the least welcome. Sashwata dismissed doctor’s suggestion saying that his mom was fine and did not need a “doctor for mad people”.
Oneday during heated arguement between Aditi and her mother-in-law, her mother-in-law threw a rolling pin in frustration and accidentally hurt Ichchhe. Aditi rushed to the hospital with her injured daughter and that day she knew things were getting a little out of control. She hid the truth from her husband and accepted all the accusition of being an irresponsible mother.
Unlike Sashwata, Aditi understood the need of a therapy. She tried to trick her mother-in-law saying that Aratrika(the psychiatrist) was a physio-therapist but soon after going there, truth was exposed. Shobharani rebuked Aditi for tricking her and denied to come for sessions. First day of the therapy went in vein but gradually Shobharani started taking interest in the therapy. After all, it gave a chance to unwind herself, she could finally talk to someone about her frustration. She was mostly upset about her daughter-in-law Aditi.
Aditi too started taking the session to her mother-in-law company. She too was equally upset with her mother-in-law. Dr. Aratrika helped both of them to share the decade old disappointment and bad blood. Shobharani, always expected Aditi to treat her like her own mother. She herself wasn’t treating her like daughter through. Same was with Aditi.
Therapist Aratrika helped Shobharani and Aditi understand each other’s point of view and also explained how Shobharani was 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 the family members’ needs except earning money, Aditi was the one to buy everything from the groceries to medicines. For the first time Shobharani supported Aditi in front of her son. The therapy not only help to reduce tension between Aditi and Shobharani also helped them to reimagine themselves outside the name “Mrs. Mukherjee”.
There’s other side of the movie that depicted Aditi’s struggle and desperation to find a job. She was telling her good friend about how many times she had sent her CV to many schools but never heard anything back from anyone, she didn’t verify why she wasn’t given a chance. When the therapy sessions bought the two Mrs. Mujherjees together, one day Aditi found out some old envelopes sent from the schools she had applied over the years. The appointment letters were hidden by her own husband who didn’t want her to work. Aditi’s husband who had an okayish job didn’t want to see Aditi earning money and be financially independent. Aditi was shattered to know the truth, she didn’t confront him and remained silent.
On the occasion of women’s day there was a small event organized and Dr. Aratrika nominated Shobharani. She had to get on the stage and give some speech. It was her dream from childhood to perform on the stage and finally she got the opportunity. She talked a little bit herself and women in general and also confessed that it was herself who hid the appointment letters of her daughter in law. She thought that it would be good for everyone. (Her son knew about it all the time and he too helped her in that.) Aditi didn’t feel the rage this time, rather she was calm and cool.
My reaction to the movie:
I rarely watch Bengali movies but I’m really glad that I watched it. I like the movie for depicting the life of a lower middle class family perfectly. The struggle of an Indian woman to rediscover her identity was real… The movie narrates how difficult it is for the women to prosper because they had to win over the hurdles twice. Once against the women as the society has placed one woman against other. Once against the society… Shobharani learnt that men (like her father, brother, husband, son) were superior to women and women trying to pave their own path was unrealistic to her. The ignorance and lack of warmth in her life, she unintentionally was passing on to Aditi, who was married to her son. Aditi who was equally or more educated her son, had to constantly fight for her own needs. On several occasion, Aditi reminded me of my own mom who quit her job after marriage and has been regretting all her life for that.
I recommended mom to watch the movie and she could relate herself to the plot. Overall it’s a good movie, not meant for guys who find their well educated and working wives to be a great threat to their inflated male ego!
That’s all for today, you can check out more movie reviews (English and Hindi) here.