Who doesn’t want an all expenses paid cruise vacation? I certainly do and that’s why this movie is on my list of certified cabin fever reducers. The scenic views are amazing and for a moment there I too can pretend I am on a vacation with the Mehra family. They have everything, the wealth, the looks and the typical sexist views of any standard desi household. All my reservations against Priyanka Chopra aside, the character of Ayesha Mehra is someone a brown woman can relate to, minus the wealth of course.
From the start of the film we see in her how any daughter of a brown household is treated. She’s written off the invitation card of the trip she planned because she is now married and after marriage the girl belongs to her husband's family. All her achievements and success do not change the fact that at the end of the day she’s a woman who is expected to provide an heir for her husband. Her work life success means nothing to her parents who are going to give the family company to her brother instead. Owning her own company does not save her from her mother in laws remarks of what a good housewife should be or when she will give her grandchildren. Her achievements, owning the second most successful travel company and being on the Forbes top 10 entrepreneurs list, dull in comparison to her brothers, who (checks notes) gave a presentation last week. We see a very successful woman who is unhappy with her marriage, and to a large extent also held back by it. The expectations of family, in-laws and society do not deem her work achievements as real achievements because at the end of the day she is not a complete woman until she becomes a mother.
The Mehra’s are a typical desi family in that they think their son is a gift from God and their daughter is just…….there. Her achievements are rarely celebrated, her existence erased from the family now that she is married and her problems dismissed. We see that Ayesha is unhappy in her marriage, but since there are no physical signs of that unhappiness, (her husband isn’t physically abusive), her family can not understand why she would want to divorce him. She says she doesn’t love her husband but that is not a good enough reason to divorce him. This is not uncommon in our society. We see women stuck in unhappy marriages everyday, I’m sure there is one in every family. Ayesha’s own mother is stuck in an unhappy marriage with a cheating spouse but unlike Ayesha she does not have the choice to leave.
The two scenes in the movie where Ayesha first announces her reason to divorce her husband and does not receive much support from her parents, rather they ask “why are you doing this to us?” like her divorce will personally affect their lives. And the second where they do eventually end up supporting her decision but only after her husband gets aggressive with her. While Ayesha receives her happy ending and support from her parents, that is not always the case for most women especially if the reason is being unhappy without any outwardly signs of abuse. Ayesha had a career and business to fall back on even if her parents did not support her but her mother did not have this cushion, like most women in our society.
Overall, while the film is a good lighthearted watch, it touches upon everyday issues that otherwise get ignored in favor of the more urgent ones. Ayesha’s character especially makes you think about how no matter how successful a woman is she is not considered a complete woman until is good at managing the house and she becomes a mother. And I believe it also deserves some credit for bringing up the idea of divorce due to a loveless marriage.