Monday, January 7, 2013

Between the Lines

I have been a Nandita Das loyalist for as long as I can remember. She is one of the very few Indian actors who has managed to hold her own despite being unconventional and unconventionally beautiful. So yes, while I staunchly defended her movies and her dusky good looks to a bunch of testosterone-charged friends who quickly moved on from the Aishwariya Rais to the Katrina Kaifs, I continued to eagerly devour her work.

This weekend, I finally managed to watch her debut play, “Between the Lines”, featuring her husband, Subodh Maskara. I always respected her as an actor, but for the first time I got a glimpse of her as a writer as well. You might call it a predictable story dealing with the much-rehashed theme of an urban, educated, happily-married lawyer couple caught in a professional squabble, which eventually leads to marital discord. Yes, it asks the same old questions about the woman’s place in society; yes, it points out the glaring hypocrisy which exists even in so-called modern Indian families and yes, it gets jarring at times when the woman is psycho-analyzing every move while the man is simple to the extent of being insensitive. We have heard it before and we shall hear it again, but the writer in Nandita Das manages to treat the issue with humour, avoiding the pitfall of sounding moralistic.

And she got me to think as well. Isn’t it true that as women, we always tend to put other people’s needs ahead of us? And I am not just talking of women who have to cater to large families and have limited resources. Take my case, for instance. I am supposedly this modern, independent girl who lives her life on her own terms and is not answerable to anybody. I can also do what I want and when I want, but the truth is that I don’t.

I can afford to live better, have a car or a maid. But I don’t, because I am not conditioned to indulge myself…

I can cook (or ask the maid to cook) all my favourite dishes, but instead I choose to survive on cafeteria food or milk and oats. In fact, I can’t even cook something as simple as chicken JUST for myself, unless I have people over…

I can take a cab from Parel to Nariman Point, but instead I choose to walk down to the station, take a train and walk again…

I can assert myself and demand more from other people. But my instinctive reaction is to not make things awkward/uncomfortable for them…

Like they show in the play, the husband tells his wife, “See, I got your favourite cake”, and then takes a piece.
The wife points out, “You ALWAYS take the bigger piece.”
The husband asks, “Ok, so if you had to pick first, which one would you pick?”
The wife replies, “Instinctively, I would take the smaller one.”
Puzzled, the husband says, “Exactly! Either way, you would end up with the smaller one. Where is the problem?”

The problem, it seems, lies between the lines, and I am not yet empowered enough to rise above it


survivingbrain said...

1) I always wanted to date her(Nandita das).

2) I cannot afford a car right now. SO why dont you get the car, and give it to someone who IS conditioned to indulge? (like me?)

3) I dont think there is a problem, not even between the lines. Men and
women can never be equal,they are different. Woman is NOT lesser than a man either. So it is FINE and ok when women and men behave differently, nature has evolved in such a way.

So let the women take the smaller piece IF and ONLY IF she is comfortable doing it.

Nefertiti said...


comment longer than post. no no, if i buy a car or a cake, it would be ONLY for me.

survivingbrain said...

so what percentage of the number of words in your post should be the number of words in the comment??


Nefertiti said...


my math sucks, so I can't give you a quantitative estimate