Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh by Shrayana Bhattacharya seemed like an book I must read. I found it while browsing YouTube for book reviews. Watch an interview with the author at How Indian women have escaped society in the arms of Shah Rukh Khan.
I’ve just finished chapter 3 and it’s a fascinating read so far. Shrayana Bhattacharya takes one on a journey, weaving the lives of real women into the socio-economic fabric of the India they live in.
The writing is insightful and clear, with a warmth and a willingness to see life through the eyes of another. The author presents the impact of patriarchy on the lives of women within the struggles of their caste and class, with a subtlety that is unusual. And unheard of, I think, in many conversations on patriarchy in India.
I must confess that I don’t know much about Shah Rukh Khan and many movie stars. I don’t really have much movie watching time and prefer to spend leisure-time away from a screen. Also, I tend to skip articles on the lives of the rich and famous through sheer lack of interest. Chapter 2 – Who is Shah Rukh, with it’s perspective on Bollywood was a really interesting read that would appeal to movie-lovers as well as those like me, who have a long list of leisure activities and a vague desire but not much time, for movie-watching.
I have many hours to go with this book and I am looking forward to them. I feel that the chapters that follow will reach out and speak to me the way the first three have. But I am still on this journey and don’t really know where it will take me until I reach the end.
There is much hope, I think, in the stories of real women as they try to find their way within this India we live in. An India that can be experienced differently by different groups of people.
An India where the rights of a woman to a working life, safe travel, and to leisure are not always socially acceptable, and where women can be judged by others and found wanting for achieving these things or demanding them.
And yet at the same time, an India that can be surprisingly progressive and make space for gender equality and the advancement of women. An India that lives by the idea that these rights are for all, and that hope is like butter on a very promising slice of toast – best when spread evenly.
Read an excerpt from the book here.
An Update on December 28, 2021: The year-end holiday gave me time and I’ve finally finished Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh. It’s brilliant and insightful and has helped me understand better, how other women live with patriarchy in India.
I write on patriarchy and invite you to read a story that’s partly published on this blog – the life of Microwave Madam as she tries to make space for happiness within the boundaries that society, and family customs and traditions, and her own ideas, impose on her.