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Ekta Kapoor's web series on same sex complexities to be launched on March 8

By Our Representative 

#TheMarriedWoman, a web series to begin streaming on March 8, International Women's Day, on the app AlTBalaji and Zee5, is based on Manju Kapur’s novel “A Married Woman”, woven around complexities in same sex relationship. Published in 2002 and set in the 1990s, the story revolves around Astha, a dutiful wife and a doting mother, who sets out on a journey of self-discovery after she meets Peeplika Khan.
Astha, a young woman brought up in Delhi in a typical middle-class household, was forced to succumb to her parents finding her a husband in the traditional arranged manner. Set against the backdrop of communal unrest in India over Ayodhya, the story seeks to explore unrest within Astha's life. Her marriage becomes questionable after she involves herself in the outer world of rebellion and protest.
Astha meets Peeplika, a grieving widow of a Muslim protester, whom she had admired and who died in the violence in Ayodhya. There follows what has been called a torrid affair between Astha and Pipeelika: The two women cross social boundaries to find solace and understanding in each other’s arms. Kapur writes about sexual encounters without literary inhibitions.
Producer Ekta Kapoor writes on Twitter about the web series based on the much-acclaimed novel: “Creative spaces are at times compelled to conform to boundaries. As a creator I have challenged those norms, at times pushed the envelope. This is the freedom we crave, we celebrate. However, I am cognisant that freedom comes with responsibility.”
She adds, “That’s what my show is … creative freedom to tell a different story with responsibility towards my viewers while respecting the creative desires of my team”.
Ridhi Dogra, who makes her digital debut with the show, says, “It’s not just a story about two women and same sex relationship, it’s much more than that. As an artist I really didn’t have any inhibition. I think this is a huge opportunity for me, great space and I am so glad that I waited so long for this one.”
Monica Dogra, who plays the second lead in the show, believes, “I am super excited about this project as it’s my debut in the web space. I could not have asked for anything better than this for my digital debut. I have been known as a musician and for having played a few roles on the big screen, but this project gives me an opportunity to showcase my acting skills to the fullest.”
Giving details of the series, director Sahir Raza says: "This series is a beautiful project. The story that has been woven is fabulous. I am really glad that Ekta Kapoor and everyone agreed to let me be part of the project. It is such a different concept that most people would fall in love with it even when they read it on paper. That's what happened to me. I feel shows like these should be made for every format. Cinema shouldn't be molded by anyone's morality. I feel that love should not be put into any kind of a box.”
He adds, “We did workshops with Ridhi and Monica and then we had a very straight, open conversation with them about a few particular scenes, including the ones where the two actors had to kiss each other. We, including the crew, informed them that we would like to make such scenes comfortable for them and asked them to suggest us things that would make them comfortable.”
According to Sahir, “The two actresses came with the idea immediately that they would like to have a quiet and closed set with a smaller unit. We have had conversations about the creative aspect of it and there was not any hesitation on either of their part. They understood that they are playing certain roles and were mentally prepared to perform for the same.”
He adds, “In fact, they made it extremely comfortable for all of us to shoot it as well. They are talented, professional actors. The two of them brought a lot of nuance to the scene as well.”
The cast includes Suhaas Ahuja, Imaad Shah, Divya Seth Shah, Ayesha Raza, Rahul Vohra and Nadira Babbar.

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