Recently I watched Shaadi Ke Side Effects with a close friend. We both came away with mixed feelings – I identified with some bits of the movie while she didn’t at all. But in unison, we both had a problem with the ending.

Without going into much detail (you can watch the movie if you want!), Trisha informs Sid that she’s pregnant again and it’s not his child. It their neighbour’s because he was never there for her after their first child was born. A good start we thought but in the end, she tells him that she had lied. She wanted to see if he would be able to forgive her just as she had forgiven him for lying about his work trips! It was appalling! It felt as if the filmmakers thought it prudent to take the easy way out.

As we discussed the movie on our way out, it raised questions in our minds. Why deny the woman the need to feel wanted, made love to and feel satisfied? Motherhood does change a woman in more ways than one but it definitely doesn’t make her want sex any less. A man might be turned off by watching his wife nurse their child but is that reason enough not to have a physical relationship with her? Why do men stop trying after a few futile attempts (like Sid in the movie)?

Women go through a myriad of changes during pregnancy – emotional, physical, hormonal, and social! For months, you’re carrying a live little person within you – someone who is completely dependent on you for everything! Whatever you do, eat, see, and feel impacts the person. You’re always on tenterhooks about doing something wrong, no matter how irrelevant, when thought of logically. Are you eating enough? Are you eating too much? Watch out for gestational diabetes! Monitor your pressure. A continuous list…

So basically pregnancy is just the beginning of life changing forever. And it’s but natural that after delivery it takes time for the body to heal. I know my gynaecologist asked me to wait for about 6 weeks before I started any exercise routine to get back into shape. Then there is postpartum depression to deal with. The pressures after delivery are even more than during pregnancy. Now you have to deal with a helpless little person who seems even more dependent on you for everything! As the mother you should know best, you have to learn the right way to nurse, bathe the child, groom them, ensure that they’ve burped, take care while putting them to sleep as there’s always the fear of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome! Yet another continuous list…

Life revolves around just one person and making sense of the madness is mind boggling. At this juncture, it’s crucial to have your husband make you still feel wanted, appreciated, express and show that he cares. Sometimes a pat on the back to say a job well done or say that you’re as much his priority as the child makes all the difference. In Trisha’s case Sid ran away from situations simply because he could! He wanted life to carry on as usual, as before the child was born – that is simply being foolish. So not only was he missing when she needed him but he didn’t help either when she desperately wanted to feel like a ‘person‘ again. But interestingly, he reacts just as you would expect him to when he realises that she’s reached out to their neighbour (who happens to be a good looking man) in his absence!

Why didn’t the filmmakers want to address that friendship? Why did they shy away from the complication that might have arisen had she had sex with her neighbour? Both my friend and I felt that if they had, the film would have been even more realistic. Instead they choose to only show how he (the man) dealt with the situation. Her needs were simply brushed aside.

forgiveDid they fear that most people wouldn’t identify with the movie had they brought up that issue – since morality would come into play? Did they feel that forgiveness would be difficult if she hadn’t lied? Would that have made her a bad person? Would the betrayal of trust been even more severe? Why couldn’t they have highlighted that having sex outside the marriage isn’t only for sex alone – there can be a myriad of other reasons for it. And it’s as much a need for a woman as a man. It’s a separate issue if you choose not to exercise that choice. But it’s a choice nonetheless. Why couldn’t they have given her that choice? Perhaps they could have offered a solution to abort the child as an option for the couple? Saying it was a lie simply takes away from the seriousness of the issue of “wanting to feel loved.”

It reminded me of another movie Life in a Metro where at least the filmmakers gave Shikha the choice to return to her husband Ranjeet instead of following Akash – it was portrayed so subtly – it felt realistic because some decisions are made from the heart. There the question of right or wrong, good or bad doesn’t arise. You just make a choice and learn to live with it.

I strongly believe that love is nuanced and a marriage can withstand the many tests of time, only if the two protagonists feel equally responsible for putting each other in that situation and therefore equally committed to make a change.

When can we learn to appreciate the strength of relationships?