9 Dialogues and moments from Laapataa Ladies that will just stay with you

You know what hit me most when I watched Laapataa Ladies for the first time?! A fictional film set in 2001, feels so relevant. Maybe that is why with its gentle satire, this film has emotionally engaged everyone.

Laapataa Ladies, directed by Kiran Rao, is set in the fictional Nirmal Pradesh, explores the theme of bride-swapping that happens due to their ghoonghat. The film subtly explores gender inequality prevalent in the hinterland of the country by putting the women from these parts at the centre. The film lifts the veil off the patriarchy, both literally and metaphorically, with one dialogue and moment at a time. But mind you, Kiran Rao’s telling of the story is in no way preachy, shrill or indulges in sloganeering at any time.

The subtlety of Laapataa Ladies in exposing what is wrong with the inherent gender discrimination that is accepted without batting an eyelid as it is nothing more just an accepted way of life for these regions.

I had seen the movie in the theater already, and that too twice, once with my mom, as I wanted to make sure she watches it too. But when it recently released on Netflix, I ended up watching it again.

Here are some amazing and poignant dialogues and moments from the film that would just stay with you even long after you have seen the movie. These moments would make one introspect about still prevalent forms of subtle and not-so-subtle gender bias in our society that we miss because it is either an accepted way of life or it is our privilege that makes us ignorant of it.

#1. The Loss of Identity behind the Veil

In one of the very first scenes of the movie, Phool is told – “Ek baar ghoonghat le liya toh aage nahi, neeche dekh kar chalna seekho.” That’s where the central theme of the movie begins to take form.

From the mixing up of the brides to Deepak being unable to search for Phool because the only photo he has of her is one in “ghoonghat” – this is a poignant reminder of how easy it is to wipe a woman’s identity with a veil – “Chehra dhag dena matlab pehchaan dhag dena”

#2. Taking Husband’s name is still a big no-no

When Deepak’s father asks Jaya for her Husband’s name, the Mother jumps in to say – “Bhala koi aurat apne pati ka naam leti hai?” And when Jaya does say her husband’s name, it leads to a shock for everyone. On the other hand is Phool who even though is lost and knows her husband’s name, refuses to say.

#3. The biggest “fraud” in our society called – bhale ghar ki ladki

Manju Mai suggests Phool, who is lost and has no way to reach her husband, to go back to her parents’ home, she says, “Bhale ghar ki ladki bina pati ke maayeke nahi jaati.” 

To which, Maanju Mai responds – Iss desh mein ladki logon ke saath hazaaron saalon se ek fraud chal raha hai. Uska naam hai bhale ghar ki bahu beti. 

#4. Women are taught household chores but not how to reach their homes.

When Phool proudly says she knows all household chores from sewing and cooking to praying… one single question from Manju Mai exposes the need of what is “taught” to women versus what they need to know. One simple question – “ghar jaana aata hai” (Do you know how to go home?)

#5. Women often forget their own likes and wants when it comes to their families.

A very simple scene, yet so powerful and something that we are sure many would agree, happens many times in all our households no matter what class or society we belong to. When Deepak’s mother says how she gave up making a dish that she likes because her husband and son do not like it. And when Jaya says she can cook it because she likes it, Deepak’s mother replies – toh ab kya aurton ki pasand ka khana banega?

And goes on to add – “I don’t even remember what I used to like!”

#6. Raising hand on a woman in name of “love”!

When Maanju Mai says, “My husband and son would get drunk and beat me up. And then would say, ‘someone who loves you has the right to hit you’. One day, I exercised my right as well.” 

It just exposes so many things that women at times have to go through in the name of “love”.

#7. Mastering the art of being happy on your own

When Phool asks Manju Mai if she doesn’t feel scared to stay alone, she says – “Being happy on your own is the toughest thing, Phool. But yes, once you master it, no one can bother you.”

#8. Women are capable of a lot more they realize, but if they do, it would be a trouble for men!

“Women can farm and cook. We can give birth to children and raise them. If you think about it, women don’t really need men at all. But if all women figured this out, men would be in trouble, wouldn’t they?”

Simple, yet powerful, right? Another gem of a lesson from Manju Mai, the feminist icon I guess we all need.

#9. Way to finding female friendships at home

Ghar ki auraton saas, nand, jeethani, deevrani, sab hi ban jaati hai, saheli nahi bann paati.” “Women get so tied up in their roles and responsibilities, they rarely become friends with each other.” 

A silent nod to the roles that women in the same household have to play after their marriage, they get so bound by their titles and responsibilities that they do not get time to know each other and become friends.


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