Throwback Thursday: Gharwali Baharwali Shows It’s Okay For A Man To Have Two Wives And Women Should Sacrifice. Ugh!
We know India is battling the problem of a population explosion and is soon expected to overthrow China to become the most populated country in the world. And yet, ironically enough, we continue to remain obsessed with making babies. It’s seen as a crime if a married couple chooses to not have children. As if the success of a marriage depends on whether the couple has made their contribution to the population of our country. It’s like the butter to your pav, cheese to your pizza, and Arijit Singh songs to your breakup – our elders feel your marriage is incomplete without children. And of course, first, they tell you how useless and unaccomplished you are if you don’t marry. Then, they move on to gaslight if you don’t want to or can’t conceive. I am not going to say all parents and in-laws are like this but in varying degrees, most of them do add the pressure of birthing on a couple, especially on the lady.
Speaking of which, a few minutes into Anil Kapoor (Arun), Raveena Tandon (Kajal), and Rambha (Manisha) starrer Gharwali Baharwali and you are subjected to a neurotic father-in-law (Kader Khan) whose fixation of becoming a grandfather has defeated all levels of normalcy. Apparently, it’s been just three years of their marriage and he is frustrated to an extent that he gathers more than a dozen neighbourhood children at his house every day. And taking the typical Indian parents’ blind love to a whole new level of crazy, he is encouraging the kids to wreak havoc by rewarding them for breaking things around the house. Of course, in a story that was somehow supposed to be cute and all – he is telling a young child about a king who had seven beautiful sons, weaving an idealistic reality he wishes was his. This is the kind of upbringing we shouldn’t be giving our children and thankfully, Natkhat a present-day movie speaks about it.
So there they go, the entire family – Arun, Kajal, their father-in-law, Arun’s friend – to have a nice little picnic at the Ob-Gyn’s office so they can get Kajal tested. But what can you expect when the father-in-law also sneaks into their bedroom to listen to their conversations? And when they find out that Kajal cannot get pregnant, FIL decides that it’s best if Arun remarries because according to him women are like Amazon packages that you can return, if you found them damaged. That’s exactly how he saw his daughter-in-law, as damaged goods that need to be put out. And mind you, FIL also felt very proud of dropping in a fact that he didn’t even ask for “dahej” because Arun loved her. In fact, FIL says that if the next wife cannot give him a “vaaris” then he can keep marrying until he gets one. And boom, you realise this was just a nightmare Arun was witnessing but the fact that he strongly believed this was the most likely outcome says a lot.
In fact, the real outcome wasn’t too different from his nightmare when FIL finds out that it’s not Arun but Kajal who can’t conceive. The FIL goes ahead and replaces all the men in his son’s office with minimally dressed women and tells him to pick from a buffet of money-thirsty belles to have sex and make babies with. I am sure he wouldn’t appreciate it if Kajal had picked this option of getting it on with other men.
Arun and his friend then head to Nepal for work and I don’t know what universe was high on, because it just set them up to fulfil the shady fantasy of his non compos mentis father. While completely showing a deluded view of Nepal and it’s culture, Arun dumb friend ends up getting Arun married to a local village girl Manisha. And there begin a series of nonsensical events typical of a David Dhawan movie. Oh wait, that begun with the opening title itself. But here we dive into the crazy two-timing shit that forms the crux of this intended-to-be-funny movie. And maybe at some points, you do feel amused but that’s mostly because of the fact that you volunteered to watch it.
Anyway, to save Manisha from living a life of widowhood and oppression as Nepalese have it – the one he was responsible for in the first place – he ends up retaining his marriage with her. And as the Goddess of fertility was in a fun mood while they were having sex (and then he calls the marriage a majboori) Manisha gets pregnant immediately.
Arun being a privileged insensitive man decides to take the child from Manisha and give it to Kajal – without asking her first. And she obliges. In fact, she says that she has fulfilled her duty as a wife by giving him a child. You gotta be kidding me. So Arun takes away Manisha’s chance at having a loving, solely her husband and then takes away her child. And Manisha treats him like God?
As the little kid grows up, they begin to see Nepali hints in his personality. And what’s the best way to show that? Him dressed in a Gorkha outfit and hanging out with their watchman. They did not…After a turn of events, Manisha ends up being a maid in Arun and Kajal’s home.
Eventually, when Kajal finds out the reality, after a bit of a reaction, she is all cool with the events that unfolded. And somehow very comfortable with the fact that while she is hugging Arun, Manisha is also hugging him from behind. So Kajal got a son, Arun’s father got a grandson and Arun got two gorgeous who remain loyal to him while he enjoys a life of polygamy. Nice. Manisha? After almost being stripped off in public, marrying a random dude, having to give up her child, and becoming a maid at her husband’s house – I can’t tell if she gained anything at all from this. The climax may have been of some consolation to her. At least, she wouldn’t have to clean the dishes now.
ALSO READ: Throwback Thursday: Awful Sexual Misconduct And Violation Of Consent Was Haseena Maan Jaayegi’s Mainstay. Eww
Gharwali Baharwali exhibits a culture of bigotry that often allows men a more promiscuous lifestyle while a woman’s worth is in her duty – towards her husband and bearing children. In the end, it tries to show that a woman who doesn’t object to injustice and wrongdoings of men, and show displays the ability to sacrifice, is of higher morals. Men, on the other hand, are just men going about wrecking lives and downplaying the severity of their actions. The title song does nothing but sits proudly on this shitfest like a cherry on the cake.