Women's Day: Shubhangi Atre's advice on how single mothers can fight patriarchy

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) Despite being an acclaimed TV actress who's best known for her character Angoori Bhabhi, Shubhangi Atre, has experienced all the problems a single mother has to face in a patriarchal society.

Women's Day: Shubhangi Atre's advice on how single mothers can fight patriarchy
Source: IANS

If she has been able to live through all that, it is because of her ability to fight back odds, a quality she thanks her parents for.

On the eve of International Women's Day, Atre opened her heart out and talked at length about 'naari shakti', and her journey as single mother, daughter, etc.

Talking to IANS, Atre, who plays Angoori Bhabhi in the popular sitcom 'Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain', said she celebrates Women's Day "every day" because she is a single mother.

"We are three sisters and it was from our father that we inherited the spirit of fighting back," Atre said.

"My father never let us feel we are lesser than men. My mother is also very strong-headed, though she is a housewife, so I have that fighting spirit because of my parents."

On the social criticism that single mothers have to face, Atre said: "I may be a celebrity, but I also have to live with the criticism. Earlier, I used to feel that all these are 'filmy baatein'. But this is real. This society works according to a system. And it will run in that way. I know things are changing, but the pace is very slow. I cannot see any big change taking place now."

Carrying on how society views single mothers, the actress added, "Despite being an actor I have faced all the problems that a single mother has to face in society. The mentality cannot change overnight. There is patriarchy and this is how society has been functioning for many years."

Drawing from her personal life, Atre pointed out, "I have a small farmhouse and the villagers residing there do not understand why there's no man in the house. But slowly and steadily, I have changed their perceptions. Things are different now."

Patriarchy is evident everywhere -- even in big offices, continues Atre, and she suggests a way to deal with this mindset.

"You can deal with it in the way you talk and what you you convey to others," Atre said.

"Women must have faith in themselves. They should not feel that we are no less than the other gender. They should be financially independent, but emotional independence is also a must," she added.

Shubhangi said she had seen many successful women who are financially independent but emotionally very much dependent on their partners.

"I believe every partnership is a friendship. There should be ease and comfort, but no dependency for happiness or anything. This is sometimes lacking in many working women," she added.

She said: "Earlier, I used to panic, but now I have understood that only I have to do it, so I better face it with all the confidence that I have and with my entire individuality. This is how I deal with all this."

Atre married Peeyush Poorey in 2003 and the couple have a daughter Ashi. After 19 years of marriage, she separated from her husband in 2022.

Calling her daughter her "bestie" and her "strength", Atre said: "She has seen my journey since the beginning. She was just 10-months-old when I started working again after becoming a mother. Directly and indirectly I keep on telling her that you have to be financially independent, but also you have to keep your life in your control. Don't ever give your control to anyone else."

Atre noted that when then arrangement gets disturbed, "your entire life takes a turn and it takes much time to get the control back in your hands. Mentally, you have got to be stable and strong. Today's generation is very smart. My daughter helped me a lot to come out of this relationship. She is my bestie, my strength, she is always there as a rock solid support to me. I am really blessed."

Talking about the shift in the portrayal of women onscreen, Atre told IANS: "I am very glad that there are changes in the way films and OTT series are being written. There are some changes that need to be introduced in TV too. Thankfully, Angoori 'roti dhoti nahi hai'. She takes her stand independently. She is a very beautiful character and that is why I have been doing this show with so much love the past few years. The reason is she is neither regressive, not monotonous. She is a strong, chirpy and innocent character."

She added: "We are now seeing many strong characters. One of my favourite OTT shows is 'Delhi Crime' starring Shefali Shah. I just love that show. I am looking forward to be a part of such shows in future."

On more women getting involved in film-making, she said: "This is very good. And I think more women should make films because they score with their creative instinct and emotional quotient. I was so happy when 'The Elephant Whisperers' won an Oscar because it had women as both producer and director."