#ThrowbackThursday: Pardes’ Ganga Is A Strong Woman Who Refused To Settle. But Why Are The Men In This Movie So Trash?
The other day I was talking to my best friend Alisha, who was telling me about her building friend and her story of triumph against all odds. The woman got married to a guy who had terrible habits like chewing tobacco and being an alcoholic. He was a disrespectful person but she didn’t know that earlier. Coming from a rich family, the guy had no qualms in finding a suitable bride for himself. And for a woman from lower-middle-class, it seemed like a fairytale, as materialistic as it sounds. His parents? They were well aware of his manic behavior and yet, they trapped a nice girl because they believed she could change him.
Eventually, she did change him and today he has become a nice, loving husband. But it doesn’t always work out like that. Another, more realistic and possible outcome could have been that her life got ruined. Why do Indian parents throw someone else’s daughter in fire in the hopes that their useless, pathetic son will finally learn to live like a decent human being? Send him to a rehab. Or at least, let the woman take her call – be transparent about things. Just because you are offering shit loads of money, it doesn’t compensate for the love we miss out on.
In fact, several parents don’t really think about the intricate details of matchmaking. Does he respect my daughter? Will he make her feel loved and happy? Does he have good values? Most brown parents will just see how settled the guy is. Is he good on paper? Then the answer is yes and your daughter is sold off to become the latest toy in a house of glass. Subhash Ghai’s Pardes shed some light on this issue and made people see from POV of women who need much more than a shiny house and pretty clothes.
Ganga (Mahima Chaudhry), a cheerful woman from the interiors of India, is living life rather happy with her family, playing around with her cousins in open terraces and their farms. She is loved by all owing to her vivacious personality and kind nature. And then comes a man (not very nice Amrish Puri) who plucks a beautiful rose instead of watering it, flings it in the arms of his nefarious son, Rajeev (Apurva Agnihotri). Before Rajeev, he sends Arjun (Shah Rukh Khan), a guy he adopted or whose soul he thinks he bought by helping him out in America. Arjun fixes Ganga’s house, briefs her family on how to behave with Rajeev, and makes sure when Rajeev arrives, he falls for Ganga. But who knew, Arjun too would develop a soft spot for her? Truth is they got along really well because he had a lot more love and affection to offer.
Ganga and Rajeev get engaged and she is sent off to America to adapt to his lifestyle, but does she? There she begins to feel like a small person as people around her treat her like a bag of manure exported from a developing country who isn’t fit enough to marry Rajeev. Combine that with the attempt to rape at a hotel in Las Vegas, right after humiliating Ganga and India, Rajeev has proven himself to be not worth any woman. And yet, blinded by love, his father Kishorilal tells Ganga’s father that she eloped with Arjun and there’s something brewing between them. Of course, Ganga’s father thinks it’s okay to take a sword and kill Arjun and his own daughter (thankfully, he didn’t) but this is exactly how honour killings happen. This movie shed light on the fact that honour isn’t above your daughter’s happiness. And nothing justifies throwing your daughter in a fire where she’ll burn throughout her life just because you think you know what’s right for her.
Arjun too feels guilty because he became a party to this crime by hiding Rajeev’s true side from Ganga and pushing her in this. Which is probably why he feels even stronger about protecting her because who would have thought that a man who had some bad habits would actually try to rape a woman?
Eventually, in a fight sequence, Arjun declares that he loves Ganga and tells Kishorilal, Rajeev’s father he doesn’t give two hoots about him and his blindness towards his son’s shadiness. However, everyone realises that Ganga is the happiest with chaste and respectful Arjun and not with rich rapist Rajeev.
Moral of the story? Dear society, stop pushing your daughters towards materialistic bliss, A matrimonial match is way beyond how big his bank balance is. Also, I love how Ganga has been a strong woman, refusing to compromise and settle for a shitty guy. It takes a lot of courage to call off your wedding and if a woman from a conservative village can do that, why do we have to settle?
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However, I’d like to point that while the Indianness was on point and Subhash Ghai’s portrayal of traditions and values made us feel patriotic and all, NRIs are shown in a terrible light. Not all rich Indian-Americans are sleazing around. And no Indians living abroad don’t look at Indians from India like they are some discarded trash. I can vouch for that!