Hindi cinema’s most glamorous duo – Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone – are setting new, progressive couple goals. Ranveer yesterday moved into his actress wife Deepika’s apartment in Prabhadevi, Mumbai, a few weeks after their fairy-tale wedding in Italy.
Padukone has been living in the apartment for several years and Singh’s priority was her comfort, not just following traditions for the sake of it.
The actor said: “The most sensible and convenient thing was for me to move into her set-up. She is comfortable there and I don’t want to displace her. I always try to give her priority.”
— Deepika Padukone (@deepikapadukone) November 20, 2018
The concept of a husband moving in with his wife is not common in India. In fact it is often a plot for a dramatic Hindi movie.
In the 1990 Bollywood film Jamai Raja starring Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit, Dixit’s character Rekha, a young girl from a rich family falls in love with Kapoor’s character Raja, an unemployed and poor but educated boy. Rekha’s mother lets her marry him only on the condition that he live with them as a ghar jamai or son-in-law living with his in-laws. The demand was aimed at humiliating the husband so that he eventually backs out of the wedding.
Sign of disgrace
Being a ghar jamai has always been seen as a sign of disgrace and Bollywood has constantly perpetuated this notion.
In a patriarchal society like in India, the husband living with his in-laws is not just uncommon but its widely considered taboo. The men in a traditional Indian society are considered breadwinners of the family and have the onus of supporting the wife and children. And a ghar jamai is usually looked on as a freeloader or a man with no self-respect.
However, in modern urban India, where both husband and wife work and contribute to running the household, the concept of ghar jamai has thankfully become largely obsolete.
Yet, we hardly ever see men moving into their wife’s homes.
In a joint family set-up where the man lives with his parents under the same roof, the couple usually moves out of the husband’s home and lives alone.
While shifting from the in-laws’ home post-marriage is a choice, the woman is expected to leave her home and follow the husband anyway.
While girls grow up with the conditioning that they will have to leave their parents’ home after marriage and move in with a new family, the boys, however, have the luxury of not being told such things.
Hindi cinema is a huge influence on Indian society and many movies have tried to show an alternate way of life for the married couple, rather than the traditional and somewhat sexist norms in place.
The film Saathiya (2002) is one of those movies that come to mind where both actress Rani Mukherji’s character and Vivek Oberoi’s character leave their parents’ home and move into a small apartment together.
Another unusual film about the married couple’s set-up is the recent Bollywood movie Ki & Ka (2016), where Kabir (Arjun Kapoor) moves in with Kia (Kareena Kapoor) and her mother.
Kia is a working woman while Kabir is a stay-at-home husband who, opposite to many Indian households, receives money from his wife to run the household.
Touted as a progressive film, the film Ki & Ka, attempted to normalize the role-reversal in a traditional society. It shows the husband cooking, cleaning and taking care of his mother-in-law. It also tries to show how a man also has a choice of being a ‘house-husband’ without it being disrespectful.
Off-screen, Singh moving in with wife Deepika has been seen as progressive and a challenge to strict gender norms in India.
While this literal move is making headlines, it may also make people understand how there is nothing wrong in a man moving into his wife’s house.
Deepika and Ranveer got married in November at Italy’s Lake Como, joined by family members and friends for the celebrations.