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Why Do Women Lose Their Personal Identities in Their Marriages?

October 15, 2013

by Mallika Sharma

A gender review of the film Ek Baar Phir (Once Again)

My penchant for old Indian art films and parallel cinema knows no bounds. One of the lesser-known Indian films of the 1980’s, that I enjoyed watching recently was –“Ek Baar Phir”. With a deeply engaging and bold story-line, along with stellar performances and excellent cinematography, it surely is one film that I would recommend every cinema lover to watch!

Mahendra (Suresh Oberoi) is a superstar, married to Kalpana (Deepti Naval) who is a housewife.  Kalpana accompanies Mahendra to one of his film shoots in London.  Mahendra is a haughty and conceited fellow, who is extremely unprofessional and cannot get over his starry tantrums!  He is a night owl, a womanizer and a borderline alcoholic.  Kalpana on the other hand is aware of his womanizing ways, but can do little to change his ways. She has more or less become his shadow, and at one point feels so ensnared in her dull/purposeless existence, that her life seems to have reached a stalemate!

Despite all the luxuries at her disposal, Kalpana’s stifled individuality and an absence of passion and love in her marriage continues to sting her- until one day she bumps into a street artist, Vimal (Pradeep Verma). Their mutual love for contemporary art draws them towards each other, and from here on they get into a passionate love affair. When Mahendar, leaves for Switzerland for the second leg of his shoot, Kalpana insists on staying back to attend art classes!  During this time, the bond between Kalpana and Vimal deepens and takes a more serious turn.  Vimal helps her, come into her own.  His physical touch even during love-making makes her understand the true essence of life. Suddenly she feels that her identity has been re-established and she starts discerning the basis of her existence, until one day Mahendar turns up at her apartment in London to surprise her!  He ecstatically breaks the news that he has bagged a film with an American director. He departs for America leaving Kalpana in a quandary!

Kalpana feels that she is so irrevocably entangled in her rut with Mahender that she cannot escape it for her newfound love for Vimal.  She henceforth starts avoiding Vimal.   Vimal is devastated and tries desperately to get Kalpana to talk to him once, but to no avail. He finally writes a letter to her expressing his wish to meet her “sirf ek baar phir” (Once again.)

The movie very beautifully portrays sensitive nuances of womanhood and the significance of ‘self’ in the life of a married Indian woman. A heart-felt portrayal of a woman’s search for her identity, this coming off age film will surely propel and empower every young, educated Indian woman to stand up for herself, and believe in who she is and what she wants from life!  The film breaks all women associated stereotypes and invokes a new, refreshing and progressive school of thought!

To mark 100 years  of Indian films, we are inviting people to submit reviews for our “Gender in Indian Films @ 100″ film review series.   To make a submission click here. To read previously published reviewsclick here. 


Mallika Sharma  holds a major in Finance and Investment from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  Currently she chairs her family run export house. Besides being an avid traveler and a voracious reader, she also plays tennis and is learning to play the piano. She  likes writing about a many issues from a gendered perspective.  She blogs at


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