PeepingMoon Exclusive: The deep-rooted conditioning of patriarchy exists in women too, men also suffer a lot: 'Bombay Begums' Pooja Bhatt, Shahana Goswami, Amruta Subhash & others


Pooja Bhatt, Shahana Goswami, Amruta Subhash, Plabita Borthakur and Aadhya Anand are all set to tell the tale of five women in a man's world in Alankrita Shrivastava's Netflix series, Bombay Begums. The show will release on the OTT giant on March 8 that is International Women's Day. Ahead of the much-awaited premiere, Pooja, Shahana, Amruta, Plabita and Aadhya spoke to PeepingMoon about the show, patriarchy and much more. Ask them is there a need to highlight patriarchy to emphasize feminism, the actresses promptly said that patriarchy isn't gender-specific. Calling it deep-rooted conditioning, they felt that real stories tend to bring out patriarchy as it has been a part of society for the longest time.

Shahana, who plays the role of Fatima Warsi in Bombay Begum, told, "Patriarchy is a part of the world we live in. It will be reflected subtly or not so subtly in society. Bombay Begums is one of those shows where despite it being focused around the women, the women aren't over-glorified. They have a lot of men in their lives who are not your typical result of patriarchy. Even if they have elements of it, you see a growth and journey and an empathetic aspect to them in the relationship with their partners. In a way, it actually depicts a more realistic picture of the way things are. There is a shift, patriarchy is also going through a change but the remnants or the deep-rooted conditioning of patriarchy that exists even in women is still there. It is still playing a part in the human interpersonal relationships between the women, men and the characters. Whenever we talk about feminism, people always think of it as one thing but feminism is a word that has a large spectrum. People have a different understanding. It is also something personally related to in different ways. In that sense, Bombay Begums covers a large section of that spectrum in terms of making it about equality of opportunity, choice and the freedom to decide for yourself based on not just what you are forced to do but what you force yourself to do as well. It takes you a step forward where it becomes about internally questioning yourselves as well. Making choices that are coming from within you and not blaming the world around you. It covers a larger perspective and isn't just about 'oh men are horrible' or 'the men are the problem' or 'patriarchy is the only issue'. It is a larger structural, cultural, contextual reality of the whole world we live in which is much more nuanced than just feminism and patriarchy."

Recommended Read: Patriarchy is not gender-specific, assert Bombay Begums Pooja Bhatt, Shahana Goswami & Amruta Subhash

Pooja aka Rani Singh Irani, shared, "Patriarchy like empathy isn't gender-specific. Unfortunately, you see patriarchy being played out. I think women tend to perpetuate myths that they have tried very hard to actually throw off themselves. We often subjugate the other when we haven't been able to get rid of our own shackles. I have the privileged of knowing a lot more men who are very compassionate, have great empathy and have forced me to be far more fair and ideas about myself and what boxes I'm meant to tick off. Thank God for those men in my life who allowed me to get rid of this burden of what an ideal woman is meant to be like. And of course the privilege of many women who I have known and admired from afar. I think women sometimes tend to become what they don't want someone else to be to them. In this show, there is a lot of that."    

Amruta who will be seen as Laxmi/Lily, stated, "When we talk about patriarchy in the society, there are elements of patriarchy within us too. Good-natured men are a part of our lives but somewhere, in a certain way, it comes out without much realisation. In Bombay Begums, women are trying to be in a space where their existence isn't validated by men. They are asking for what they want. 

Adding to Amruta's statement, Pooja shared, "How many women have put their ambition on the backburner to make the man in their life feel good about themselves. How we downplay our achievement and tone down our strengths because we don't want the men in our lives to feel intimidated or less. We tend to do that unconsciously." 

Plabita aka Ayesha told, "I feel men equally suffer from patriarchy and its not just women. Even if women are working, they are expected to be the major breadwinner. Any real story that we see about a man or woman, we will see patriarchy." 

Shahana added, "In Fatima's case, her husband says he will sit at home for a couple of years once the baby comes and she is one who is uncomfortable about it. Patriarchy is within her. She needs her man to be providing and doing better. Somewhere it is so deep-rooted that the expectation starts living within you. She needs her man to be looked up to in society. It is not how typically we would see things. There are a constant ebb and flow which is really putting the question back to you. Are we really asking ourselves? Are we looking at where the judgements are? It's not just one person, one gender or one class. It is everybody who has this dichotomy, prejudices and flaws. We have to learn to recognise them. That's a part of human nature. It's only a matter of recognising where we are being prejudiced."

(Transcribed by: Tanmayi Savadi)