Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahaani: The Therapy Session You Didn’t Know You Needed
Written by Tiffany Manbodh
Sunday October 1, 2023
Photo by Askar Abayev
If you want to trigger your West Indian, Caribbean or Desi family, take them to the cinema to see the Hindi film, Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahaani. For the cherry on top, have chai after at a cafe and ask them to share their thoughts on the movie.
Karan Johar’s latest film Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahaani is more than a love story between the main characters played by Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh. In this film, the two youngsters seek to bring their grandparents together again despite the grandfather being married. However, there are two love stories that overlap in the midst of family chaos and it is here the elements that impact the family dynamics become visible.
I left this movie feeling a mixture of different emotions, thoughts just swirling around in my head. How is it that Karan Johar was able to craft such a movie that delivers several messages all brown children wish they could communicate to their parents/caregivers? These messages surround various themes such as gender roles, body shaming, domestic abuse, and many others.
These themes are issues that we see every day within the Caribbean/West Indian community. Take gender roles for example. Depending on the household you grew up in, you may have seen your mother tasking herself with all the household chores and caring for the family while your father brings home the bread, aka income. From the stories I’ve heard, it seems that my grandparents’ generation were more rigid when it came to gender roles because that’s just what their own parents’ generation did. They never questioned it. As time has flown by and things changed, this new generation has options when it comes to defining their own roles, be it in relationships, the household, etc. This is exactly what makes it challenging– when our parents or relatives can’t fathom why we youngsters reject gender roles. God forbid I didn’t want to serve my future husband his dinner. My parents wouldn’t blink an eye at all. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for everyone else.
Photo by Antonius Ferret
Let’s move on to body shaming. In Guyana, where I was born and raised for several years of my childhood, you would often hear people referring to others by names like “fat boy” or “slim gyal”, taking someone’s insecurity and make it their nickname. This became a cultural norm that no one questioned. Even parents or caregivers would do it, sometimes subconsciously, to their own children. This kind of behavior actually does more harm than good. Imagine being called “fat girl” for many years by your relatives, then you arrive at adulthood and wonder why your self-esteem is beneath the ground.
Photo by Alex Green
Domestic abuse is something that has plagued the Caribbean and South America; more specifically, Guyana for a very long time. If you keep up with the news in Guyana, there are frequent reports of intimate partner violence. I personally know of relatives who have experienced this first hand and the stories are very horrifying. I’ve had contributors in my short story collection Blooming Through Adversity experience this as well and the trauma certainly runs deep.
Let’s face it. Gender roles, body shaming, and domestic abuse aren’t issues to be taken lightly. This leaves us with the question: How willing are we to confront or even challenge these issues with our families? Are we willing to start the conversations with them at the dinner table? The way I see it is that we have two choices: we can either let the past continue, or break the cycle and forge a new path. Yes, it may be unconventional and cause discord but it will also allow our communities to heal.
About the Author
Tiffany is a multifaceted individual based in South Florida. She is a health
and wellness coach and also the author of Blooming Through Adversity, a short story collection. Her collaborative work with Dr. Kumar has been published in a U.S. based Educational Journal. Additionally, she contributed a short story in Two Times Removed which was curated by Tiara Chutkhan and earned a Canadian DragonFly Award.
To follow her journey, connect with Tiffany Manbodh on Instagram
(@writewithmetiffany) or TikTok (@travelwithmetiffany) for continuous updates.