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Throwback Thursday: Vivah Is Doused In Sexism, Beauty Stereotypes And Features Two Horny Individuals Who Are Too Shy To Get It On

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Every Thursday, I pick one movie from the past and scrutinise it for causing more harm than good, usually the sexist kind. Last week, it was Hum Saath Saath Hain and that’s how I got reminded of the cringe-fest that Vivah is, another one from the stable of Sooraj Barjatya. While I actually enjoyed Hum Saath Saath Hain as a kid, you know because of naivety, I could never digest the hideousness in Vivah. Every scene in the movie makes you want to pull your hair out in frustration or at least makes me want to punch someone in the nose.

So for my article, I had to bring back the traumatic memories of this movie that I had suppressed, by watching trailers and scenes. And let me tell you that’s a big risk, considering I have sensitive gag reflexes. Allow me to damage you as well, in case you have forgotten all about this movie.

Vivah is a love story between two individuals, a simple girl Poonam (Amrita Rao) and a simpleton, Prem (Shahid Kapoor). It traces their journey from their engagement to marriage and everything in between. You’d think that would have been interesting except all they do is refuse to make eye contact with each other or even acknowledge each other in a group setting. Considering how even in moments of privacy they are so awkward, it’s not very surprising.

Poonam lives with her chachaji and chachiji, whose name didn’t seem to matter to anyone. The elder couple also has a daughter, who is darkened and is considered less beautiful because you know beauty stereotypes. In fact, chachiji who is dark herself, constantly tries to lighten her daughter’s skin using several home remedies but fails. Poonam, on the other hand, is like the poster child of a fairness cream. So you can imagine, how that is reason enough for chachiji to despise Poonam, the fairer child. Between passionate sessions of ubtan-making and throwing shade at Poonam, she also worries about how she will ever find a groom for her dark daughter.

That’s not even the main plot. The story is not about beauty stereotypes and yet every time you see her sister in the frame, you get reminded of the shameful nature of our society, and of her chachiji. But there’s nothing to worry because soon you get pulled into the vomit-inducing drama of Poonam excessive goodness, if that’s what you can call it.

Prem comes with his entire family to meet Poonam and her family at her place and that’s the beginning of the end of logical reasoning. When they get to speak one on one, he’s trying to make a confession about his past. At that time, you assume he is going to tell her about his ex-girlfriend but no, a sanskaari film cannot show that. So apparently, all this hue and cry was about a crush he had on a classmate. That’s it. I mean, my 16 year old cousin has more “past” than this. All this while, please note that Poonam refuses to look at his face, a behaviour pattern she has stretched to the entire movie. She says nothing except asking him to have another cup of tea. That was their moment of love and they decide to get married. Like wtf? What happened to actually getting to know someone before making that choice? Arranged marriages thankfully don’t work like that in real life.

Now this is a couple who is engaged and about to get married in six months. But they don’t even greet each other with a simple hello in front of their families. They have to try hard to find an excuse to spend time with each without the elders. In Hum Saath Saath Hain the entire family joins Sadhana and Vivek on their honeymoon and in Vivah, their family won’t leave them alone in their courtship period. The couple has to struggle to find some time away from the elders.

Meanwhile, Poonam and Prem are behaving like horny teenagers, except there is no intimacy between them. They look like an electric current is passing through their bodies, each time their skin makes contact. Yet, they abstain from indulging in physical affection because sanskaar.

To distract you from this couple’s icky behaviour, they have introduced casual sexism like a side dish. Women serve food while men eat first. Women are supposed to take care of their children and potential husbands, because that’s what we are meant for. In fact, Poonam is like the ideal woman, our society wants – soft spoken, ambitionless and chaste.

ALSO READ: Throwback Thursday: Hum Saath Saath Hain Is About Women With Too Much Sanskaar And No Sexual Desires. They Take The Entire Fam On Their Honeymoon, FFS

Just when you’re getting tired of all this awkwardness and unfulfilled sexual tension between them, Poonam and her house catch fire. She is rushed to a hospital because she has suffered burns on her entire body, except her face is as flawless as it used to be. Don’t ask me how; I did warn you of logical reasoning not having a place in this film. Prem walks in and offers to marry her, even though she tells him now she is useless because her body is scarred. Also, mind you, even in that emotional moment she refused to make eye contact. Did she think he was ugly? Or was it because he reminded her of her chachaji and it would just be odd? I don’t know.

ALSO READ: Throwback Thursday: Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya Is About A Pathological Liar And Women Who Have No Standards When It Comes To Men

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