What we are taught and what must be the best way forward in dealing with complex situations is very individual. Yet, to see the happy picture of a man with his exes is abnormal for many.


Staying in touch with an ex and considering the lost or ended relationship as a strong pillar in one’s life requires a tremendous amount of respect for one another. It is a continual test of the understanding of personal boundaries and also self-realisation. The recent photograph of film director Anurag Kashyap with his two ex-wives flanked on both sides, both smiling, actually beaming, and Kashyap candidly calling them both his pillars, is straight out of a Hollywood film by Woody Allen called Vicky Christina Barcelona. 

Aarti Bajaj, Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin

That film had me wondering about Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem’s invincible bond with Cruz and his wandering desire for Scarlett Johansson. This was a typical Woody Allen film.

His great body of work with the quintessential Woody films urged us to face our inner dark desires, embrace them, and be able to stand against what is acceptable in the eyes of society. His characters were crazy; they were dreamers who questioned the absurdity of life’s laid-out rules.

This photo of Kashyap also makes us question the pillars on which relationships have been held till today. It is a duality of right versus wrong. What we are taught and what must be the best way forward in dealing with complex situations is very individual. Yet, to see the happy picture of a man with his exes and not two warring women is abnormal for many. 

Women have been projected as the step-sisters of Cinderella, fighting and constantly bickering to get the main man’s attention. It is a phenomenal way to brainwash and divide the sisterhood.

Anurag Kashyap, almost like Woody Allen, is an equally talented director. His films are a reflection of his sensibilities. It is his unique ability to mix an artsy, kitschy canvas of characters into a mass-commercial film that both the elite and the masses would enjoy. Kalki Koechlin too has proved her mettle equally in commercial and art house cinema.  One doesn’t hear much of Arati Bajaj much.

With the recent happenings on the internet with Ranveer Singh posing nude, Alia Bhatt’s pregnancy before her marriage, they are making headlines in a changing society. Finally, the status quo is being challenged.

In the earlier days, actors, directors, and musicians were never seen wearing their sleeves on their hearts. Their private lives were only speculation. The gossip magazines were the only source that managed to feed the appetite of a star-struck nation with rumours and stories galore. The greatest Hindi film star cum icon, Amitabh Bachchan, was forever found guilty of loving Rekha and being married to Jaya Bachchan. It was always pegged as duty versus desire.

Today, with so much change, one does wonder about the theories of evolution and marriage as an institution. We do notice that increasingly people are opting to live in with their partners instead of getting married and hitched forever, without an exit plan. As more women are beginning to become economically independent, they are no longer accepting the societal chains that thwart freedom.

According to Anupama, “While it is true that fewer women (very few) flaunt their multiple relations because of societal judgement, permission, etc., the fact remains that women have to be willing to take the power back. Why do we need permission in the first place? One of the key ground rules of freedom is that it has to come from within and it is not comparative. It is not rooted in conflict.”

Highlighting further on how women need to take their freedom into their own hands, she said, “The ladies in question, for instance, are also flaunting the man in the picture, despite being in their current relationships with other men. But more importantly, they are also flaunting a sense of sisterhood and familial bond with the so-called ‘other’ woman. Perhaps it would suffice to say that while the limitations and chains are real, the desire to break them has to be that of a woman’s own. As some of us start doing it, we hope we will leave a better, healthier, freer world for our daughters to come. “

But the truth remains that equality is still skewed towards men. We won’t ever find a Deepika Padukone posing nude for any international magazine and Ranveer Singh being okay with it.

Also, if tables were turned and a woman who was married for the second time in a country like India, would she not be lynched and trolled if she shared a photograph with her ex and her current partner?

Let’s imagine the same photograph of a woman director posing with both her ex-husbands or boyfriends. In such a case, would the husband have the courage to firstly meet the other man with respect and, secondly, to pose with the woman they both loved earlier or presently.

One can’t ignore the gap in India, which is glaringly high on gender and sexuality issues. Queer is just recently been legalised. Among the heterosexual couples, most still live within the confines of the rules. Also, the rules are mostly applicable to women. Men can still get away with being caught cheating in marriages, unlike a woman who could lose everything if she ever dared.

Speaking to Simran, an upcoming model in Bangalore, she said, “The modelling industry has more women than men. But one still finds that the girls in the glamour world must be appealing to the masses to get commercially viable work. This requires the girls to look virginal, coy, and not feisty. “

At the end, in unconventional relationships, one must have tremendous courage and talent to find happiness in a given situation, where the woman is still at the lower end of the pecking order. The man always gets to choose. 

For the majority, it is still the husband, the wife, and the mistress. But we hope that it won’t be too far away when economically successful women choose partners or husbands who won’t lead but walk along. We hope that women of the future will also have an equal voice in remaining friends with their ex inspite of a disapproving current partner. That would be another step towards equal freedom that would be the norm in all relationships. The man will respect a woman’s past as beautifully as she would for a better, more secure future.

Mohua Chinappa is an author and a podcaster of a show called The Mohua Show.