For every mother-daughter duo, being born in different eras ensures that they hold different worldviews, are at different levels of sensitisation, and hence, buy into different brands of feminism.
In such circumstances, the short film “The Good Girl” by Blush Channel has a beautiful and relevant message – all of us may take our own time to unlearn our own specific biases, but in the meanwhile, we have to stick together while taking on the common enemy - patriarchy.
The scene is that of a mother – essayed by Gurdeep Kohli, walking in on her daughter – played by Plabita Borthakur – taking a pregnancy test.
The way this situation plays out feels eerie in the beginning, but makes you wonder – is it that impossible for a mother to be so accepting of her daughter’s choices? How wonderful would the world be, if this sort of love and support becomes the norm?
To daughters, the film hints – your biggest ally might have been living under the same roof as you all along.
“The Good Girl” depicts the present-day, urban, educated, middle-class mother, in perhaps the most thoughtful, nuanced manner.
She’s performing household chores herself, but has great ambitions for her daughter, and is in fact, urging her to aspire to an even better standard.
Her mind does stray briefly to the stereotype of associating alcohol with careless decision-making, but she quickly adds that consent is important nonetheless.
She does not fully support pre-marital sex herself, but believes that agency must be granted to women and their sexuality in relationships. She believes that her husband must be looped in on the situation at hand, but reassures her that they are all in this together.
While Plabita’s Appu imagines all sorts of harsh judgements and extreme verdicts meted out to her by her mother, her mother readily palettes the idea of her having a boyfriend, being sexually active, and the fact that her daughter is an independent woman who takes full responsibility of her actions and their consequences.
Her mother speaks to her as an equal – woman to woman – and realises that the world is harsh enough to their kind already and that in such a predicament, she could use her wisdom and warmth.
She is not completely sensitised but is edging closer and closer to your level. If you keep your condescension at bay and grant her help and patience in equal parts, she will perhaps find it in herself to lend you her ear and eventually, her shoulder.
To mothers, the film pleads - you don’t have to agree with your daughter, but you need to support her.
They say the generation gap is larger, now more than ever. And it will continue to widen as time progresses.
Thus, for two generations of women to band together, it urges mothers to be more accepting of the possibly more evolved moral lens of her daughter. This is even referenced in the film, when Gurdeep says, “Suddenly, even I’m not sure what is right and wrong.”
In this specific context, being supportive for a mother would entail recognising that premarital sex is largely prevalent in present-day India, that her daughter is a mature, consenting adult who made an error that the best of us could have, and that her help and guidance will save her daughter from resorting to possibly unsafe methods of abortion.
Finally, to every mother-daughter duo out there, the film dispenses a highly important message - what it means to be a “good girl” and a “good parent” is strictly their own business, and no one else’s.
If a concept is too hard to stomach for a mother, and a constraint feels too unreasonable for a daughter, the best they could do is agree to disagree – as long as it means that they can honour each other’s wishes and desires, protect each other’s rights, help realise each other’s ambitions, and ensure each other’s well-being.
As Gurdeep’s character puts it, “If we expect our children to be good girls and good boys, it is also our responsibility to be good parents. And the society does not get to decide what that means within our household.”