The Married WomanReview: A Faintly Appreciable Tale Of Two Women & A Relationship

The Married Woman (AltBalaji/Zee 5)

Starring Riddhi Dogra, Monica Dogra, Imaad Shah

Directed  by  Sahir Raza

Rating: ** ½ 

This could have been a  lot more than what  it  finally is. A  mirror of  a middleclass marriage where there  is  no grief. Just a numbness after years of togetherness. Given the inert state of her  libido, it is no surprise  that  Astha(Riddhi Dogra,  easy on the eyes) subconsciously begins searching for  fulfillment outside  marriage.

 Enter   the  charismatic  Aijaaz(played well by Imaad Shah).  Aijaaz is everything  that Astha’s Husband  Hemant is  not. Passionate, dedicated, empathetic and  intellectual. It’s easy for Astha  to be drawn  to Aijaaz. In an important sequence which  turns surprisingly listless and  limp,she  makes a complete fool of herself confessing her feelings towards him .

The problem is, Astha’s feelings are  constantly offset in the oscillating  plot by  characters who offer her chance  to be everything she  is not. First it’s Aijaaz  then  when he killed  suddenly, Aijaaz’s freespirited  bohemian  wife Peeplika(Monica Dogra) who is shown to have some really strange  ways  of dealing with grief  and  bereavement.

 While  the characters’ unconventional moves  were  shocking in  Manju Kapur’s novel  they just don’t fit into the visual interpretations offered  by director Sahir  Raza which veers  between the  prosaic and  the  bland. The  themes  ranging from lesbianism to  the Babri Masjid unrest to Love Jihad, are explosive and I can see the moral police rubbing  their  hands in glee.

They can  spare themselves the effort. The Married Woman is just not important  enough to elicit anything more than a  vague smile  from  the audience. It is ambitious but shallow, sprawling in canvas but  blissfully unaware  of  how to stage-manage  the  torrent  of  drama  that defines  the subject and  characters and makes them  potentially eligible  for  something far more vital than what  the  content and execution are able to  provide.

Even  the most unconventional moments  in the story are defined  conventionally. When  Peeplika  finally seduces  Astha into a kiss the song  playing in the background is the Lata Mangeshkar  classic Lag jaa gale se. When  the firebrand  Aijaaz filled with an unharnessed  passion, lectures  Astha on the religious  divide, he sounds like  a stale re-run  of a spiritual channel. When Astha’s husband Hemant  proposes sex every second Saturday of the  month he is just being that stereotypical wimp   on the web that all women-centric  content throws in  our face.

In fact one of  the  series’  few interesting scenes is the one where Astha suggests some excitement in their routine sex life(reminding us  of the wife suggesting “foreplay”  in  The  Great Indian Kitchen). The alarmed  anxious response  of the husband(Suhaas Ahuja) is priceless. Sadly  the  moments of surprise and delight in The Married Woman are  far too  infrequent. Most  of the  incidents seem designed  to  shock us. They do no  such thing. They simply bore us.

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