This women’s day, we are introduced to another show that aspires to showcase a free and modern woman. ZEE5’s Mrs. Subbalakshmi, starring Lakshmi Manchu, revolves around a woman struggling to free herself from the daily doldrums of marriage. After her workaholic husband, who barely notices her, forgets their wedding anniversary, Subbu takes her friend’s well-intentioned advice and decides to take a day off for herself. The series then follows her one-day escapade.
The show’s premise seems innocent, but it falters in the writing department. Through flashbacks, we are shown how in the initial days of marriage, Subbu’s husband Subramanyam gives her “permission” to read books, practice her singing and even further her interest in sports. Just one month later, he says he will burn all her books if he catches her reading again, simply because she was engrossed in a novel when he wanted coffee. Similarly, her daughter is looking at old pictures of her mother when Subbu was a state-level Kabbadi player. Subramanyam butts in again only to reprimand Subbu for giving their daughter all the wrong ideas. Kabbadi is not a woman’s sport, you see. It is infuriating to see this kind of juvenile portrayal of marriage at this day and age. I am surprised it took so long for Subbu to get frustrated with her husband.
And Subramanyam is as incompetent in household chores as he can get. He doesn’t know how to braid his daughter’s hair. He grumbles when he has to clean his son up. He is not aware that he needs a vessel to take milk from the milk vendor. We are talking about a 21st-century man. Does he have to be so unidimensional? The other female characters in the series seem a lot more interesting and modern. The maid is shown as a loud, brash woman who has no qualms about hitting her philandering, alcoholic husband. “But doesn’t he hit me as well?”, she retorts when being questioned. Subramanyam’s secretary comes home to deliver a bouquet and watches the confusion unfolding because of Subbu’s absence and says nonchalantly, “I changed my husband because he didn’t remember my anniversary”. These are the real, modern women in the show. They know exactly what they want and don’t put up with any sexist, misogynist nonsense.
Last but not least, the acting, at least in the first two episodes, is nothing to write home about.