For the Unversed Imlie is a popular show on star plus that revolves around an 18-year-old village girl, caught up in an unfortunate love triangle. Imlie is your regular feisty country girl, full of life, faith and dreams of higher studies. However, the ghost of her mother’s past, who had an affair with a city dude who abandoned her once she got pregnant, comes to haunt her just as the story takes off.
Aditya Kumar Tripathi, a well-known journalist from Delhi, very hot by the way, is in the village doing a story. He strikes a camaraderie with Imlie who is showing him around the village. However, when they are forced to take shelter overnight in an abandoned hut on the outskirts of the village (don’t ask!), the villagers marry them off without their consent. The protest doesn’t work because of Imlie’s past: her being an illegitimate child of a townie, etcetera…
Now Mr Tripathi, who was happy frolicking and bonding with the innocent girl is now justifiably upset at being saddled with a wife. More so because he is engaged to his long-time girlfriend Malini. Malini is a beautiful college professor who is completely in love with her fiancee and is already a family member of his entire family.
Quite a fix!
However, it is said that the real character shows through in times of crisis. The same goes with AKT, who lashes out at Imlie, treats her bad and is happy making his family believe that she is a house help who has come looking for work. To make matters worse, amidst his half-hearted attempts of telling his fiancee and then eventually get married to her, he somehow falls in love with Imlie. He does not feel bad for her, he does not empathise or sympathise with her: he just falls head over heels in love with an 18-year-old, while watching her dust tables and iron clothes!
Think about this.
A grown man who has just married his long-time girlfriend ( yes, second time married now), falls in love with someone he has absolutely nothing in common with. Might make for a fairy tale elsewhere, but here it raises serious questions about Aditya’s integrity and his gravity. But unlike Imlie, whose belief in fate does not allow her to question the marriage, making her feel love and devotion towards a man she has virtually no relationship with, Mr Tripathi is not subtle about his love. He brings out his second wife’s “sindoor case” and applies it on Imlie’s forehead as a grand gesture of love! Poor Imlie now thinks it’s her duty to wear the sindoor everywhere as it’s an unsaid expectation from her husband. When she gets in trouble for it, AKT does little more than a mental monologue on “his dilemma” from the sidelines.
In Aditya, I see traits of a very toxic but common male complex. Even though he claims not to believe in rituals, the forced marriage has given him a “saviour complex” coupled with an entitlement to “owning” Imlie. He confuses all this with love and starts acting on his impulses rather irresponsibly.
But all said and done, Aditya, the leading protagonist has to be kept redeemable, so we see his second wife, who has been lied to constantly and has grounds for all hatred, turn into a completely evil character beyond redemption. When Malini turns from a woman who is helplessly in love, into a scheming witch, I feel her character just takes a beating at the cost of Aditya’s.
Aditya, after getting her temporarily out of the picture, now lives with Imlie as his wife, quite remorselessly. However, he still wants to be friends with his ex, because she has been so “good” to them by getting out of the way. When Malini, in her newfound witchy avatar, tries to create problems between the new couple, he gives her all benefit of the doubt because he trusts her. Now, if there was so much trust and friendship, why did a relationship have to break in the first place? A confused egoistic male with a typical entitled personality now takes Imlie for granted and ignores her continuous attempts of warning.
All hell breaks loose when Malini sleeps with Aditya by drugging him and Imlie is asked to prove her allegations. Even when it’s proven beyond doubt, Aditya still appears to trust Malini and it’s starting to seem that their “friendship” is seriously a fool’s paradise. It’s not that I had any affinity with Aditya before but now he really starts to irk me. So now we have his pregnant ex-wife and wife living with him because Mr Tripathi is righteous about giving a roof to his future child that he doesn’t remember siring. And he continues to give Malini the final word in everything, managing to question all of Imlie’s well-founded allegations about Malini’s intentions.
He does not disappoint at all when his character and ego are further tested as Imlie leaves and starts anew. By a stroke of luck, she meets a mentor and friend in Aryan Singh Rathore (another rich broody hero with past angst that makes him oh-so-attractive) who hires her and guides her through her maze of feelings, finally teaching her to keep her professional and personal lives separate.
By now the plot is getting ridiculously absurd ( and garnering higher TRPs) but one thing that remains steady is Aditya’s lack of character and blind selfishness. Just because he feels “hurt” at Imlie quitting his toxic house, he jumps to accuse her of sleeping with Aryan, continuously humiliating her on every occasion. It’s comical to see him so “proprietary” when he has been jostling between two women forever, still managing to act victimised all through.
Even after Imlie continues to call him out on his double standards, he remains steadfastly on the same track, fixating himself on Aryan, at Malini’s behest. So “intense” is his love for Imlie, that he marries Malini for a second time just to get back at her. I am appalled at the degree of his “victim- complex” that allows him to hurt everyone around him without any remorse.
However since Indian TV thrives on romantic tropes, the show stops short of calling him out completely or making him the main problem. The blame has to be placed on the “other woman”, who in all honesty, had started well with no real malice. She was in love with her boyfriend, all set to get married when he chose someone else over her. Shakespeare was right when he said, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” But there’s a clear degradation of Malini’s character to continue to save Aditya. She is the mastermind behind all his actions while he is the hapless “Devdas” in pain. How justified is that?
Written by Tulika Dubey