Reel or real, urban India explores infidelity

November 22nd, 2008 - 10:00 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) Fed up with their dull marriages, two couples start looking at others to spice up their lives. And while that is the plot of a new Hindi film, the tale is indeed a reflection of life in urban India, say relationship experts.”Dil Kabaddi”, starring Irrfan Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Rahul Bose, Konkona Sen Sharma, Rahul Khanna and Payal Rohatgi, focuses on post-marital boredom and shows how married couples are no longer fearful of discussing monotony in marriage and take a step further by getting into relationships with others.

They even look out for fun at the risk of jeopardising their commitment.

Leading psychiatrist Sanjay Chugh admits that the story reflects the situation in urban India where there is “a definite rise in platonic relationships” outside the bonds of matrimony.

“The ‘I’ seems to now dominate, which allows people to venture outside without feeling guilty about it,” Chugh told IANS.

“Staying within those close boundaries is perceived as being stifled and controlled which is considered an attack on one’s freedom and space. There is a definite rise in platonic relationships, which clearly explains the shift in the mindset of not just men but women too,” he added.

According to Samir Parikh, chief of the mental health and behavioural science department in Max Healthcare, the change may also be owing to “westernisation”.

“Increasingly, available mediums like films or newspapers tell us this is what may be missing in your relationship or this is what you must have. The more the knowledge, the more the desire and thus the increased efforts to try and get what one believes one wants and deserves,” Parikh averred.

Chugh agreed and said it is Bollywood that has brought the concept of infidelity to the forefront and out of the closet.

The change in mindsets may have been fuelled by “the increasingly available movies and media reports that point out what might be missing in your relationship or what you must have”, suggested Parikh.

Anil Senior, the director of “Dil Kabaddi”, which releases Dec 5, acknowledges that the story of the film has been inspired by the situation in today’s society.

“I have so many friends who are into live-in relationships, extramarital affairs or are divorced. Our film is a reflection of today’s world. We have only exaggerated the tale a bit for the sake of making it comic,” Senior said.

Experts say a relationship can become dull when couples take each other for granted or not appreciate each other enough or criticise too much or simply because of the humdrum of daily living.

Chugh said there is a distinct difference between the number of extramarital affairs and infidelity cases in metros and small cities. “That’s because bigger cities provide more exposure, more contact with the opposite sex and also more anonymity.”

“I would say that most couples who come to me for therapy are hit by infidelity. The numbers are huge - they can run into 250-300 couples a year.”

In “Dil Kabaddi”, the married men do not mind an extramarital affair, while the women are sceptical, irrespective of their feeling unfulfilled in marriage or being interested in another man.

But Parikh felt there is no such gender disparity in the emotional aspect of “venturing out” in real life. “The emotional implications would be the same in either case, if they do go beyond their relationship,” he said.

In the context of Indian society that has been traditionally known for upholding commitments, Chugh said, “the concept of marriage has only become more fluid and unstable.”

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