Why are some women gold-diggers? Understanding women of Ludo.
Ludo is a complicated movie and is not just a complicated movie but also projects itself to be one. There is meta-commentary inside the movie by Yamraj and Chitragupta. The movie takes itself seriously or at least tries to. But, the women in the movie do not look so complicated. All of them are simple, lack personality and are heavily dependent on the men in their lives. So, I decided to analyse this phenomenon.
Throughout the movie, I got a bit frustrated noticing the women. All the women in Anurag Basu’s Ludo are gold-diggers. They are trying to use men in their lives to ‘extract gold’. From Pinky(Fatima) to Shruti(Sanya) to Asha(Asha Negi) to Sambhavi(Geetanjali Mishra), each woman is seen to be digging gold with probably the exception of Seeja(Pearle Maaney). Each of them uses situations and men in her life to better her life.
As much as some part of me was ready to pass a judgement, I decided to analyse the whole phenomenon of it and is there any truth to it? Are women really gold -diggers?
If it were just one woman, it would have been easy to cast her aside as greedy but we see the entire cast of women doing so clearly this is deeper than mere greediness. Of course, I may be reading too much into it and the entire reason women are shown as gold-diggers in the movie might be so that men have more to do on the screen but I am counting on it to be an Anurag Basu standard movie.
If you haven’t seen this movie then let me recount to you why I believe there is no doubt that these women can be classified as gold-digger. If you have seen the movie, you may skip the next four paragraphs.
Pinky all her life takes advantage of a man(Aalu) she knows loves her and can’t say no to her, goes on to marry another man because he is one of the richest her dad could find for her and finally when she is in trouble she does not hesitate to take help from her ex-lover, even happily taking the money he had in savings for himself with no promise of ever returning it. She also has ungrateful moments when she outrightly says that he could have simply refused to help her.
Shruti seems to have come to Delhi to only find a groom. She obviously can find a groom in her hometown Bhilai as well then why would she do such frantic groom search every weekend and get desperate when her time in Delhi is ending probably because she knows the people in Delhi are richer and are from well-to-do families. She rejects the man she loves because neither is he rich now nor is he ever going to be.
Asha marries Bittu, has a child with him. Bittu leaves her bad ways for her and starts life afresh. Even though it is not pointed out, it means he is now living with much less wealth and much more threat to his life on an everyday basis. Yet, when things go astray and Bittu is jailed, she is out the door marrying not just another man(Bhanu) but one who was a friend of Bittu’s.
She does this to make her life easier and not because she may love Bhanu, she needs another man to maintain her life.
Finally, when she and her new husband Bhanu are unable to pay their loan back to Sattu Bhai(old boss of Bittuu), she again blames Bittu that is because of him her family is being harassed which may be true but she could have taken a loan from someone other than Sattu Bhai or she could have kept the terms of deal clearer and finally even if it is, Bittu does not owe her anything. She decided to leave the marriage out of self-preservation and she still expects the betrayed ex-husband to help her.
Sambhavi is married to one man, has extra-marital affairs with two other men at the least and finally escapes away with her love with money extorted from another man probably because she was in love with a man who did not have money of his own and she was staying in the marriage because of financial reasons and escapes the marriage the moment she has some money.
There are many factors at play here that have shaped the way these women think let’s tackle them one by one
First is their economic status.
All of these are lower-middle-class or lower-class women not born into wealth or class. Whatever is scarce is always a priority. Scarcity of wealth leads to survival instinct because scant wealth translates into anxieties and greed. Mind you, this greed is not about luxuries but to have enough to not be anxious about money every day.
Even though all of them look at money as their primary check-box to tick, they don’t stop there and marry the first rich guy. Shruti looks for a good, well-to-do family. Pinky’s father also looks for a respectable family. Money is just one of the criteria and it does not mean these women went into the marriage only for it. They go into it with their true hearts to make the marriage work as an institution. Except for Shruti, all of the women marry only a little above themselves clearly above themselves. Why not go for the top? Because it is not THE only thing. The goal is to be comfortable and not to drown in wealth.
Shruti confesses to having been taught her whole life that marriage to a rich guy and well-to-do family is her ticket to happiness. This is what she trained for — a small-town girl who learnt etiquettes, English, fashion, makeup because she knew it is needed to attract a polished man. A lifetime of training cannot be undone. Think of it this way — you studied all your life because you knew it leads to the path of success, it leads to a good college and then a good job and you believe it. But is it true? Have people not been successful in this world without college? You know for a fact that education does not guarantee success but it is a mindset that cannot be undone. But you argue, education does increase the probability of success but then so does marrying into wealth, doesn’t it? If these women do marry into wealth their chances of comfort is not guaranteed but chances are higher. Maths gives them no reason to let go of the mindset.
Lack of self-belief
Despite all the reasons above, you still feel angry at these women, don’t you? You still feel these reasons do not justify their actions. Why can’t they make their own money? you ask.
Thank you for asking this. This is THE most important question. Why cant they earn their own money?
Throughout the movie, you do not see even one of these women accomplishing ANYTHING on their own. Pinky has no shame in going back to Aalu and emotionally manipulating him by saying ‘you are the only person I can ask help to’ to get her cheating husband out of prison. In fact, for most of the film, she is unable to take a stand and keeps on fighting for a husband who cares nothing for her. In the end, also, she is only able to leave him because she knows she has a fallback option in Aalu otherwise, she might not have had the courage to do that as well.
Shruti, when faced with the scary option of her pornographic content surfacing online decides to go with her ex-boyfriend and not alone.
Asha bails on Bittu as soon as he is jailed knowing that she can’t handle her life with a child alone and when that new husband is in a problem she again goes to her ex-husband whose child she never made him meet and lied to the child about his father. Her life is just one man to another to solve one problem to another.
Sambhavi can’t even escape on her own. Her lover comes to get her.
None of them does anything on their own. Wonder why? Because that is what they believe. That they can’t handle it. They are women and not equipped physically and mentally for the world of boys. Hence, they always need a man by their side to solve their problems. They do not believe they can solve their problems which means they don’t believe in themselves.
If a woman does not believe in herself she is also not likely to believe she can earn enough to lead a comfortable life. If this fundamental truth that she can earn everything herself is not known to her isn’t it obvious that she will go into self-preservation mode and look for a man to meet her needs? It looks selfish to an outsider but the most obvious thing to do for a woman with that belief.
Lack of awareness
One must understand that different sections of society use different social media and sources of knowledge. Some use Insta, some Facebook, some TikTok, some Twitter and this has a high correlation with the class of a person. Messages on Tiktok tend to be more regressive than say Twitter on an average so it is likely that these women have never across ideas of self-independence or feminism and thus, they do not find this dependence on men to be vulgar.
All the ladies are engaging in this behaviour thus, clearly, it is normalised.
Blaming individuals for a behaviour that is normalised in the society achieves little and clearly, the problem is systemic.
Also, I must highlight here that it is not a problem that has ‘crop up’. In fact, before Victorian era marriages were understood to be a transaction and a logical decision where you married someone which optimised your life in terms of wealth, power, beauty, intellect and influence.
It is only in the last 100 years or so that marriages happen because of ‘love’. This love is also most of the times misunderstood feelings confusing perhaps infatuation. But we are okay with misunderstood feelings but not logical, calculated decisions of marriage.
The tragedy is not that these women decide to marry into money but that they believe they can not earn it themselves. This makes them dependent on the men forever. This dependency is the root of societal problems such as domestic abuse and emotional harassment of married women.
If we look back women have only received the right to work very recently. Before that, if women were in a poor household marrying into a rich household was THE ONLY way to escape poverty, you couldn’t earn for yourself. Even when women did start working only limited positions were open to them and these were the lower-wage positions like secretaries.
Even now, there are strict hierarchies. To get a high-paying job, you need to enter a good college, which means you need to score high in school which generally needs a private school education with years of coaching and tuition. Lower-middle class parents are not likely to educate their daughters and likely to spend all they have on their sons.
If all this was not enough, social mobility is insanely low in India.
India has been ranked very low at 76th place out of 82 countries on a new Social Mobility Index compiled by the World Economic Forum, while Denmark has topped the charts.
Almost nothing seems to be in favour of these women, then how are they to believe that they can escape their low wealth status? They are likely to then turn to assets they have which society values— youth and womanhood.
So does this let the men off the hook? Are men the victims in this scenario getting ‘used’ by self-serving women?
First and foremost, the men are ‘giving’ of their own accord. All the men in the movie are giving because they want to because it makes them feel good. They know the women they are involved with. Akash knows Shruti wants a rich guy. Aalu knows how Pinky contacts him only when she needs help. Bittu has seen his wife leave her. Despite it, the men don’t draw clear boundaries and decide to help them. Probably because they understand there is more to these women than their opportunistic nature. They truly care and accept them with their flaws. Is it fair to call them victim if they consciously are helping these women?
The help is self-serving. There are two parts to it. These men are not helping random women, they are helping women they love. Love is one of those rare feelings which is more enjoyed when you are giving rather than taking hence, it makes them feel good.
Also, they too are products of the same mindset training that these women have received i.e. sacrifice shows the depth of love instead of baring the toxicity. None of them call out their partner because it is normalised for them too.
In the end, the one question we need to ask is does being a gold-digger serve the women?
No, I dont think so. Why?
The answer is as old as time itself. When life itself is never just about money then prioritising money over everything else is a fruitless exercise. The parts of us that one leaves behind in the pursuit of easy money do not die. The longing for companionship, loving a partner, feeling safe with someone stays right where they are.
Pinky clearly is in a loveless marriage where her husband cheats on her and does not even respect her enough to be sorry about it. Instead, he starts to character assassinate her without evidence to defend himself. He blames her for spying on him when he was cheating not himself who could have averted the whole situation by being honest!
Clearly, she feels alone, disrespected and unsafe in such a marriage.
Shruti has actually found a wonderfully sweet and rich man for herself who genuinely seems to care for her yet he is not the one she loves. Being with anyone but the person you love is probably the most lonely feeling in the world. She is numbing parts of herself which love Akash but it is clear as the movie progresses that this only makes her miserable and the vast amount of wealth does not compensate.
Sambhavi too is involved with men but finally when she has the money she decides to be with the man she loves. All these years of faking a marriage have tested her limits and she couldn’t take it one more minute.
There are things other than money which are needed to make relationships work. This does not mean that women should not aspire for wealth, they should and must and marrying into wealth is also completely fine as long as it does not mean they are compromising on other parts of themselves.
Alternatives to this are better solutions like earning it themselves instead of relying on a man.
Of course, women should probably also be supported by the government better to overcome the barriers that the society builds for them but that is too much to hope and I don’t expect so much from our government.
Another more controversial solutions used by women abroad is Seeking Arrangements. Now please don’t judge and hear me out. There are many platonic sugar baby relationships where women use the money to pay off education loans and conveniently move on with building their lives.
I know the second alternative is making your eyes roll but if women are helplessly using womanhood and youth to find husbands then isn’t it just better to use it to be in a relationship with an older wealthier man for a few months on their terms and then build their own life with the education and wealth received.
The only problem with this solution is that it is not for everyone.
So it boils to making women understand that they are capable of earning well. And also to understand that wealth can be one of their criteria but they only hurt themselves by not marrying humans but chequebooks.
Finally, for all of us, let’s stop judging these women because only when we stop then can we understand the problem and come up with solutions.
P.S : A whole other discussion is possible if gold-digger is simply a tool to shame women. My aim in this article is only to understand the characters of the movie and few women who may share traits with him.