What does Alia playing dulahaniyas mean for society?
The obvious question to follow is “why should it mean anything for society?”
Well, here is the thing. Alia Bhatt is definitely one of the most talented young actors (a big surprise considering the basket she belongs to – that of celebrity kids) in the industry at the moment, and her rendition of a bride (even when it is to a character played by Varun Dhawan) is so believable that it kind of makes a person feel guilty for being okay with someone who looks so young getting into a marriage.
Like it or not, Alia looks not a day older than someone who is 19 years of age (with makeup), and definitely not more than 17 without the layers of cosmetics. Our country is still struggling against the menace of child marriage – or let’s be less critical and say the menace has to do more with teenagers and at times preteens being denied formal education so that their parents can force them into matrimony simply to get the burden of a female offspring off their shoulder. Therefore, does it really help when an actress who looks barely out of high school is shown onscreen tying the knot without anyone batting an eyelid?
(just for some perspective)
Well, one can say the characters she portrays are often explicitly expressed to be in their twenties, but it remains a detail broadly overlooked in a visually driven society.
But heck, I’m not saying that Alia’s dulhaniyas do anything to promote underage marriage – that’s a tradition with roots too deep in several communities that it is nearly impossible to figure out when and why it was conceptualised. The issue lies in normalising the idea of getting hitched at an early age in young girls themselves. If they can follow Vaidehi’s fashion style, then why not her decision to marry as well? And folks, it is just as important to expect a guy to be adequately educated before marriage as it is for a girl. Watch the movie, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
(this is literally what you will find on Google images if you search “anti ageing creams”)
Speaking of young looking brides, what is with the world’s obsession with not letting women age? Are women immortals? Or reptiles perhaps, the type who shed their old skin to emerge in a flawless new one? Name any brand that manufactures anti-ageing products and show me one ad that features a man endorsing it. Same goes for hair-colours, except good old Godrej hair dye which most often than not has a middle aged man looking satisfactorily in a mirror with a newfound sense of youth in his blackened coiffure.
(Ad for Godrej Expert Powder Hair Dye)
Plus, anyone remember that bra ad featuring Kitu Gidwani where a mature woman wears a particular style of lingerie that gives her bust-line a “youthful lift”, and even rewards her with a young male stalker. smh.
(Gidwani in the VIP Feelings Bra ad)
In fact, it is quite comical that an audience who is forced to see a near 40 SRK (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) and Salman Khan as college goers (Tere Naam haemorrhaged my capability of logical reasoning) is also expected to believe a teenage-looking actor to be old enough to become someone’s wife and start her own family unit.
(does this need a caption?)
Anyhow, there is no denying Alia Bhatt movies never disappoint, and at times it is only she who keeps the boat afloat. Dear Zindagi, Udta Punjab, Kapoor and Sons – these movies had her play roles which were believable when represented by a young actor such as she. It simply doesn’t make sense that someone who appears to have so many paths open to her to traverse should be made to “settle down” just to conform to Bollywood’s demand of a happily ever-after which obviously cannot be implied by anything but marriage.
(Alia as we best like her! Young, fresh, and living her life in Dear Zindagi!)
-by Zaiceka Ahmed