I often disagree with Ram Gopal Varma. For instance, I had a small disagreement with his laughable idea that he could somehow remake Sholay with some strangely snarling latter-day Bachchan as Gabbar. When he tweeted "I wish all the women in the world give men as much happiness as Sunny Leone gives," on Women’s Day of all days, this for me put him firmly in the category of unevolved male troglodyte. Now, however, Varma has made a statement in light of Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao announcing their divorce that makes more sense.
Varma tweeted that the couple parting ways was no one’s business but their own. Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan were seen in a short video with Khan saying that they had decided to separate but would always remain a family with their son Azad Rao Khan. Khan also asked people to pray for their happiness. Predictably there was a swift backlash; with some expressing sadness at the end of a 15-year marriage and others criticizing what they see as permissive lifestyles. Fans were taking it personally and there was a lot of trolling. However, according to Varma, no one has the business to opine, criticise and troll people for their choices.
I agree in part. Now, it makes zero difference to me that some actor got divorced for the first, second or nth time. What does make a difference is when someone I expect to make good movies made an absolute abomination (and that I made the misguided choice to sit through the entire drivelling three hours of it). But I can imagine that fans tend to invest emotionally in movie stars and their lives and react personally to news such as this. I suppose public figures do have to expect some level of scrutiny and criticism for any choice they make or don’t make. However, no one should be expected to tolerate the kind of abuse and vilification that this news prompted from trolls.
In another tweet, Varma said that “divorce should be celebrated more than a marriage” and that “marriages happen out of ignorance and stupidity”. Now clearly this is a guy with a very jaundiced view of marriage; which as a happily married woman, I don’t agree with. However, I do agree with the essence of what Varma says. We do need to normalise divorce. We as a society need to stop stigmatising divorced women in particular.
The end of a relationship is better than the continuation of one that is dysfunctional and/or toxic. Being tied to each other for the sake of kids, or worse, because of what people will say cannot be healthy for any of the people involved. We have to change the mindset that divorce is somehow a sign of failure. Sometimes relationships don’t work out and partners should be able to end something that causes them unhappiness.
This mindset needs to change in particular for the women involved. So many women are pressured into staying on in unhappy and even abusive marriages because families are not supportive. There is also the fact that society has little respect for divorced women, and tends to view them as somehow fair game.
Now I don’t agree with Varma that divorce should be ‘celebrated’ because the end of a relationship can often be very painful and traumatic for the people concerned. Nor do I think that marriage is a result of ‘stupidity and ignorance’. I believe marriage can be a lovely partnership; a union of love and mutual respect. But it may not be for everyone. I for one believe that people – women in particular – ought not to be pressured into marriage. And married women who decide to end a marriage should be supported, not censured.
There is enough unhappiness in this world – there is no need for couples that no longer love each other to be forced to remain in a relationship out of pressure from family or society – to add to the sum of that unhappiness. It is unfortunate that one has to actually remind some parents of this fact: a divorced daughter is better than a dead daughter.
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