Women are mostly expected to keep it together and not fall apart, so much so, that we expect them to not stop, even when life isn't perfect. It's no news that chores concerning the family and the house - things like cooking, washing or even managing everyone's routines, are mostly considered a woman's job. And, she's expected to get it all 'done' without any appreaciation or acknowledgement for the same.
We normalize these over-the-top expectations so much, that at times we unintentionally force them into unrealistic labour. And, even Bollywood keeps showing women or mothers as people who run the family, without falling apart - as if they're heroes and not normal people.
Here are some scenes from films and shows that come close to depicting this pressure:
The web-series not only puts emphasis on the issues concerning society and our system, but also revolves around the many ways in which people over expect and still underestimate women. In a scene from the series, Sakshi Tanwar's character is seen grieving, trying to wrap herself around her daughter's death. Despite the situation, she's standing in front of the stove, preparing tea for everyone who's visited. Not only is she expected to follow a routine that accommodates everyone else, but when she almost fails at it, the person who helps her, is another woman - her sister in-law.
Pinni is a short film from the anthology, Zindagi In Short. The film is a sweet and subtle take on how society expects women to constantly tip toe around the people in their lives. However, there's one specific scene where Neena Gupta's character Sudha, talks to her daughter over a call. The daughter asks Sudha to not let her father walk all over her - in letting him depend on her mother. But, she then goes on and directs her to timely send the Pinnis she had asked for. When Sudha tries to talk to her daughter, she cuts the call in haste. This is a very honest depiction where families rely on mothers for everything, without taking care of their needs.
With Thappad, Bollywood got us an important message in an honest film. And this one scene in the film, where Taapsee Pannu's character Amrita takes care of the entire household, happily is very powerful, even in its subtlety. In a montage, Amrita is seen making sure that she tends to everyone's needs in the house, which is a routine. From cooking to making sure that her husband wakes up on time, she does all of it as if it's her duty. With only little time for herself, she then sips on her tea. The scene shows her doing all the work, without even realising that she's the only one doing it.
4. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi
The film that revolves around the central theme of grief and moving on, also brings up important familial issues. There's one scene in the film, where all the women of the house are prepping for meals in the kitchen - whereas, men are getting ready or just sitting around. The entire family is mourning and hence there's no routine that men are expected to follow. But, when it comes to women, they still have to keep doing the same errands, while keeping it together.
The web-series is a light watch that focuses on the regular funny tales of a middle-class family. But, even the show manages to depict the woman in the house as the center of the family, who gets things done. In a scene from an episode, after Shanti is diagnosed with diabetes, the men of the family band together to help her cook lunch for her Kitty - because she refuses to give up on it. They don't understand why she needs time off with her friends or the Kitty money - but together, the 3 do for one meal, what Shanti single-handedly does every day. And are so tired by the end of it, that they have no energy left to clean up the mess, or even cook dinner. It's at that point that they realize the value of Shanti's unpaid, and often, unacknowledged labour.
6. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
The film is a classic family drama and there's no denying that we loved it. But, there's also no denying that it showed women in stereotypical roles, as expected by society. Kajol's character Anjali is a chirpy, strong woman, who also loves herself. However, there's a scene in the film where she's seen not only helping in the kitchen, but literally managing everyone in the house. And while doing all of it, she's also asked to behave a certain 'proper' way, basically not herself - because that isn't 'appropriate'. However normalized, the scene is a very disheartening representation of what actually happens in our families - where women are 'supposed' to manage everyone's lives.
Dangal is a biographical sports drama film, but it sends out an important message on how society sees and treats women. Aamir Khan's character is disappointed with not having a son to fulfill his dream. His wife doesn't have a lot of say in the house and in the lives of everyone in the family. But, in a scene from the film, she's seen hurriedly working on preparing dinner for the family, without eating herself so that her husband is not disappointed. She does most of the work in the house and still doesn't get to have an opinion.
8. Taare Zameen Par
The film was definitely something that touched a lot of hearts, while doing so it also focused on a mother-child relationship. It showed mothers as people who are expected to be there, despite everything. In a scene from the film, Ishaan's mother, Maya is seen multi-tasking with both her sons and making sure that everything is in place. She not only does the work at home, but also helps her son in school work. Additionally, she's also the only parent who's there for her children emotionally. The scene shows how women keep doing the work, but when it comes to decision making, they're considered fragile.
9. The Lunchbox
The Lunchbox is a simple take on the human need to be seen and loved. Ila is a homemaker, who tries to keep her husband happy with the food that he loves, but she hardly gets any recognition for it. In a scene from the film, Ila is seen getting her daughter dressed up for school on time, while she's also reading cooking and running her daily tasks. She does multiple things at one time, as if it's a normal thing to do, and there seems no division of the household chores, with her husband. Something, that happens very often and is also normalized.
10. Badhaai Ho
Badhaai Ho is a light comedy that also managed to focus on the taboos that surround sex. However, there's a scene in the film where Priyamvada's mother in-law asks her to check for hot water in the bathroom, while she's already making food for everyone in the house. Gajraj Rao's character asks his son to check instead, but her mother in-law intervenes saying that he shouldn't disturb his son. This doesn't only focus on the harsh and over the top expectations of families, but also puts emphasis on the fact that men are expected to hardly do anything - when it comes to chores at home.
Women have run the world for quite some time. It's high time that men pick up the slack too.