Actor Anushka Sharma’s last release was Shah Rukh Khan starrer Zero, which came out in December last year. The fact that the film didn’t do well, combined with her marriage to cricketer Virat Kohli in 2017, have set a lot of tongues wagging, both in and outside of the industry. In an interview with Filmfare Sharma spoke on the kind of pressure she has been under due to her break, and how it is hard for people to believe that someone could take a sabbatical from work simply to be rejuvenated. Not just Sharma, a lot of women face judgement and disdain if they choose to take a break from work, especially after they marry. Does the social norm that married women must focus more on family life, keep us from seeing sabbatical as just as a break?
- Anushka Sharma has said in an interview that it is hard for people to believe that someone could take a break from work to rejuvenate.
- She said that after working so hard, she deserved to take a break.
- A lot of us face judgement for taking a break from work, for any reason.
- With lifestyle diseases taking a toll on our health, perhaps we need to revaluate our stance.
Not just Sharma, a lot of women face judgement and disdain if they choose to take a break from work, especially after they marry. Does the social norm that married women must focus more on family life, keep us from seeing sabbatical as just as a break?
On being asked why she hasn’t signed any film after last film Zero, Sharma revealed that this was a conscious decision. “I wanted to take a couple of months off after Zero. After I got married, it was like a whirlwind,” further adding, “I was just working back to back. Whatever time I’d get, I’d try to balance and meet Virat. But I was feeling too worked up.” But speculations weren’t far away. Sharma said that since she doesn’t talk about the work she has turned down, it is conjectured that she doesn’t have films. “Please give me some credit. I’ve been working since 10 years now. I’ve reached a position where something like this won’t happen. Also, I should be able to reap the benefits of having worked so hard. That benefit is being able to take time off and choose the right script. It’s a privilege to be able to say no. It’s a privilege I’ve worked hard to earn. I don’t need to fill up my calendar to justify my credibility as an actor.”
The privilege of being able to take a sabbatical is often misunderstood among us. And I follow up with Sharma by calling it a privilege, because not everyone can do that. However, those of us who indeed can afford the luxury to take a break from work, have to deal with unnecessary social scrutiny. I remember when I took a sabbatical a year and half into my marriage to travel abroad with my husband, and then due to maternity, I had to deal with disapproval from my own peers. Apparently, I wasn’t taking my career seriously, or I was now too lazy to put my education to good use, and how it was a disservice to all the money (on my parent’s part) and labour (on my part) that had been poured into my studies.
While I can only see this issue from a woman’s perspective, I don’t think the situation is any better for men. Even the thought of a grown up man, giving up his job, to sit at home and do ‘nothing’ will send shivers down the spine of most in our society.
For us women, there is no in-between, we must either work or take up household duties. Despite working hard since my high school, not even getting a couple of days off in a stretch from studies all throughout my drop year, college and internship, and then balancing a job with matrimonial life, I was expected to work, or else be branded ‘insincere’ or having turned coats to be a ‘home-maker’. Just why is it so difficult for us to accept sabbaticals in India? While I can only see this issue from a woman’s perspective, I don’t think the situation is any better for men. Even the thought of a grown up man, giving up his job, to sit at home and do ‘nothing’ will send shivers down the spine of most in our society.
But with high wear and tear rate, decreasing life expectancy and damage to health due to lifestyle issues, perhaps we need to look again at our work culture. If a person the stature of Sharma has to bear scrutiny for taking a break of a few months, that too after being in the limelight for ten years, we must admit that we have a problem at hand.
Also not having a job or earning a paycheck, doesn’t mean that a person isn’t working at all. Perhaps she or he is focusing on their personal life, or in pursuit of their passion, when taking a break from work. Doesn’t that count as work? Or perhaps they are working on their health or just enjoying the stillness that a sabbatical brings. But alas, since we continue to measure time with money earned, anything which doesn’t do that, or earn us fame, is seen as a waste of time.
As Anushka said in her interview, she has worked hard to earn this privilege of not taking up any work and so have the rest of us. So let’s stop judging others and instead look into our own lives, to check when was the last time we took a no-strings-attached break, without caring for what others had to say about it.
Picture Credit: Indian Express