It was a huge deal when Neena Gupta decided to have her child with cricketer Vivian Richards outside of the wedlock back in the 80s. It kept fueling the tabloids and was a controversy so big that it easily overshadowed not just one but two National Awards won that she won in 1994. So much has happened since then, Neenaji is now married, doing exceptionally well in her professional life, and yet the shadow of her past keeps lurking in the actor's life.
Something similar happened in a recent interview where the actor talked about her marriage to CA Vivek Mehra and how she shared the news with Masaba. Speaking on the decision to get married, Neenaji shared in the interview, “Frankly, I didn’t have to tell her. Vivek and I were going around for eight to 10 years; he used to come down to my house in Mumbai and I often used to go to Delhi. But yes, precisely speaking, when I told Masaba that I want to get married, she wanted to know why. I told her that marriage is important if you have to live in this society else you don’t get respect."
Perhaps I would have let this statement pass by, unnoticed, had it not been for Neenaji, the epitome of all things subversive in the Indian entertainment industry. For it really does breaks my heart to read something so regressive coming from the actor. I mean this is the same actor who has inspired God knows how many women to live life on their own terms, to be independent, that marriage isn't really a necessity, and that you can be a mother without being a wife.
Don't get me wrong here. I am really happy that the actor found companionship in a man that she considered worthy enough to marry. I also find it really cool that she had the nerves to do it at a time when her daughter was all grown up and must have asked a gazillion questions. However, what's not fair is to undo years of subversion by making such a regressive statement about marriage, by speaking of it as a necessity, and something that wins us respect in the society. I mean imagine a woman who has inspired so many single women for decades now to retract and say that all of this was for nothing!
But what's also not fair is the fact that she was made to feel that way by society. The truth is that women have been long scrutinised for every decision they make, even more, if any of these decisions contradict the society's notions of what's right, what's wrong, and what's fit for women to do. As an unmarried woman in my late 20s, I can totally vouch for it.
Every single day in the past seven months or so, I have seen some or the other random relative calling and nonchalantly inquiring about my marriage. Questions like "Aur shaadi ka kya plan hai," "Shaadi ka man nahi hai iska," Koi pehle se pasand kar rakha hai kya?" are thrown at me on a daily basis. And while most of the days I don't give an F about these randos who clearly don't have a life, there are days when they manage to get under my skin, when I seriously consider marrying the next guy that my parents pitch to me. And honestly, this is unfair.
It is really unfair for society to tell women what to do. It is unfair for society to size up a woman's worth by her marital status. And most of all it is unfair for society to make us feel guilty for our decisions. We are not defined by our partners and whether or not we decide to marry them and it's is high time you stop shaming us for not marrying or marrying a certain way that does not fit your idea of the normal.
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