The Girl on the Rise
Paula Hawkins set out to tell a different story of three women, which not just won people’s hearts but had a strong impact on their minds, therefore the book turned out to be a Bestseller of The New York Times Fiction 2015. The book was adapted into a movie in 2016 starring Emily Blunt and directed by Tate Taylor. In 2021, although one cannot see a reason for a Hindi adaptation directed by Ribhu Dasgupta, this book received wider publicity.
Interestingly, the movie must have not remained true to the book as much or might have not lived up to the expectation of the previous adaptation it did reach a wider Indian audience. The story is spectacularly told to the audience that literally despite the progressive age needs to be awakened. Typecasting or boxing individuals whether based on sex or gender is a game that needs extinction. In the case of ‘The Girl on the Train,’ it is Mira Kapoor (acted by Parineeti Chopra) who becomes the victim of gaslighting representing the case of women in our country.
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Mira is a successful lawyer who doesn’t budge even at the behest of her husband Dr. Shekhar Kapoor (acted by Avinash Tiwary) to take up cases and fight for the rights of the truly deserving. But her adamant nature is what gets her into trouble. She and her husband are hit while driving. Making the best of the opportunity Dr. Shekhar without getting permission or giving the information to Mira decides to abort their child. Mira gets depressed due to the loss of their child which she is told by her husband that she lost due to the accident resulting in substance abuse. Her marriage also is broken but that was already bound to happen. Dr. Shekhar has aplenty relationships and flaunts his privileged position to exploit women.
What one constantly notices in the movie is the gaslighting done to Mira. And Mira due to varied situations falls prey to it. Her husband at first pesters her not to take up the case which will land them into trouble. After the accident, he makes use of the opportunity of Mira and her condition of inebriation to narrate to her the stories of the loss of her child. He forces her to sign the divorce papers. He then continues to do the same with other women. Gaslighting especially to girls or women in India has happened in the past and continues to date. Making them feel vulnerable to situations. We celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March every year. But how different is the situation of women? Technically every single day we hear the same story of rape, abuse, and domestic violence. Ample opportunities are given to women to rise but with our mindsets being the same, trapped in patriarchy.
We say we are giving an opportunity to women but least is seen done in this regard. The quest, therefore, is just not to give a privilege to women but to make them feel and be equal in every sphere of life. This is echoed in movies like Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl where Gunjan (acted by Janhvi Kapoor) fights for her right as a human person to be an Air Force pilot. She undergoes discrimination in a male-dominated world. Gunjan doesn’t succumb to the harsh realities she challenges them with her dedicated service and participates in the Kargil war contributing courageously and bravely.
Louise Barnsley (acted by Simona Brown) in Behind Her Eyes is also a character who is told what to do and what not to do. She is willing to take suggestions from her friend but it becomes uncontrollable for her when she feels that her happiness is being curtailed. Only later does Louise takes control of the situation and is able to play her game by her own rules. She doesn’t get affected by the nagging of Dr. David Ferguson or the tricks of Eve Hewson (Adele Ferguson). She is ready to steer her life the way she wants it to.
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Then, there are the social constructs that make it difficult for us to understand that the world is not perfect and one cannot enjoy a perfect relationship, although our constant effort is to become perfect. Mira due to the repeated narration of perfect relationships searches for it. While travelling by train she is fixed on observing her ex-husband and his lifestyle so much so she becomes toxic to him. Later she also sees another couple Anand Joshi (acted by Shamaun Ahmed) and Nusrat John (acted by Aditi Rao Hydari) in love and feels that they are perfect and happy with each other. She feels that her life should have been like theirs. But when she sees Dr. Hamid, the psychiatrist of Nusrat with her, she misunderstands. She believes that Nusrat is cheating on her husband. And the rest that she hopes to achieve is later manipulated.
Alongside the instances where we see the girl on the rise, gaslighting is still a game played quite effectively played in the major parts of our country. And therefore we need to promise ourselves time and again to learn to respect the individuality of our girls and women. To support them and their voice, not as a stunted representer but as a healthy equal on this earth.
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