Actor Pankaj Tripathi’s new found fame is the kind any artist would envy, yet behind it is a story of long struggle and perseverance. Tripathi chose the life of a struggling actor over work that could have ensured a steady pay check. In such tough times, it was his wife who emerged as the primary bread-winner for their family. However, the Mirzapur actor has no qualms saying that he survived on his wife’s salary during his days as a struggling actor. Not many men can dare to make such a refreshing statement, as our patriarchal society still believes that their kind is responsible for earning money in a household.

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • Actor Pankaj Tripathi has revealed that he survived on his wife’s salary as a struggling actor.
  • Not many men have the courage to admit that their wife is the primary bread-winner in their household.
  • Stereotypical upbringing conditions men into believing that they must be the primary earners in their homes.
  • How many dreams die everyday, because men have to choose living these stereotypes, over following their passion?

Tripathi chose the life of a struggling actor over work that could have ensured a steady pay check. In such tough times, it was his wife who emerged as the primary bread-winner for their family

Recalling the struggle during his initial years in Mumbai, the actor said, “My wife Mridula and I survived on her income in Mumbai. She was a qualified school teacher and she got a job in Mumbai while I did what all out-of-town actors in Mumbai do… Struggle. My first major role was in Dharm in 2007 where I got to work with my namesake, the great Pankaj Kapur.”

Even in 2019, one can’t imagine men speaking so openly and without any hint of shame about surviving on their wife’s salary. We still see it as a man’s duty to earn and feed his family. We still arrange matrimonial matches for our sisters and daughters, based on who can give them financial stability. So it isn’t just women who bear the brunt of patriarchal dictates, men do it too. Do all men in this country grow up wanting to be doctors or engineers? Do all of them aim to get comfortable 9 to 5 jobs which will ensure a regular income? Do Indian men have no dreams, no goals, apart from saving money, buying property and putting bread and butter on the dinner table?

Even in 2019, one can’t imagine men speaking so openly and without any hint of shame about surviving on their wife’s salary.

They do. But just like patriarchy conditions women into believing that their primary duty is to manage a home, it tells boys that a man must be a breadwinner in a home. When it happens the other way around, men feel emasculated. They feel that it is a matter of shame if their wife earns more than them or runs the household. Thus they must kill their dreams, compromise on their passion and focus singularly on doing what they have been told makes them a true man – earn money.

A real man never takes money from his wife. A real man never lets a woman pay for a meal. He never sits at home managing it, while his wife steps out to earn. So many dreams and so much talent dies prematurely in our country everyday because men and women choose the comfort of living their lives by these stereotypes, rather than dissent. We fear the backlash we will incur if we go on to live our lives away from these gendered duties. Also, as a society, we always assume that among a couple, it must be the man who earns more, which only further reinforces stereotypes on a marriage.

In a marriage the role each partner fulfills must depend on personal equation and situation, rather than what is expected of them.

The way Tripathi has not shied away from speaking about his monetary struggles and how he was financially dependent on his wife is indeed admirable. Men who aren’t insecure about their masculinity, do not care much about what people will say, or what society expects of them. In a marriage the role each partner fulfills must depend on personal equation and situation, rather than what is expected of them. A husband can be a home-maker or a secondary earner. Similarly a wife can be career oriented or the primary breadwinner. What should govern this equation in a marriage? Not social norms. Not the outdated stereotypes we have been abiding by since centuries. But what makes them happy both as individuals and as a couple.

PC: Pankaj Tripathi/Twitter

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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