Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya tells the story of Aryan Agnihotri, a robotics engineer who is in his late 30s or early 40s and is happily unmarried. His family wants him to get married as soon as possible, and his aunt, Urmila, wants him to join her for her next project. So, obviously, he chooses the second option and unknowingly ends up falling in love with said “next project,” i.e., the android named Sifra. When the truth is revealed to Aryan, he is confused about whether he should treat this experience as a scientific breakthrough, a wake-up call regarding his misogynistic tendencies, be angry at his aunt for keeping him in the dark, or simply continue his romance with Sifra. In a moment of desperation, Aryan brings Sifra from the USA to Delhi under the pretext of expanding the horizons of the project and then introduces her to his family as his fiance. Things predictably go wrong with Sifra, thereby prompting Aryan to ask for Urmila’s help. So, let’s discuss the underlying themes of that ending and whether or not it sets up a sequel that’s set in the Maddock Monsterverse.
Why Does Sifra Malfunction, and What Does It Signify?
Sifra is programmed to analyze Aryan’s emotions and act accordingly. Since she (or the processor that runs her system) is learning on the go, every single decision is recorded in her system, and every single decision that she has to walk back on is put in the “deleted files” or “deleted actions” folder somewhere in her memory. Some of these deleted files include calling the police to report tomato theft, setting the city on fire, slapping people who impose their beliefs, dancing to “Dhak Dhak Karne Laga,” and throwing predatory men from buildings. And Sifra’s mechanics are sophisticated enough to not only learn that she has to keep these directions at bay but also learn why such activities are looked down upon by humans. However, while charging her batteries (which she has to do on a regular basis to keep herself functional) from the electric port in her room at her wedding venue (which is already pulling a lot of power to keep the thousands of lights on), something short-circuits and causes Sifra to malfunction. As a result of that, all her deleted files turn into her primary commands, which causes her to file a police report about tomato theft, slap relatives, dance like nobody’s watching, throw a predator from a tower, and then set fire to the wedding venue. With no other option left, Aryan is forced to decommission Sifra and bring an end to this “impossible love story.”
The reason why this happens is because Sifra wasn’t made for romance; she was meant to care for the elderly, the disabled, or, essentially look after those who need assistance on a daily basis. But, unknowingly and then knowingly, Aryan used Sifra for his personal ventures. Due to his self-centeredness, Aryan started to use Sifra to fulfill his romantic desires while micromanaging her to hell. He never saw her as a partner but as someone who made his life easier while also being of service to his tradition-loving family. So, when she needed to learn about human behavior and Aryan was not in the mood, he merely shut her down or, worse, made her act the way he wanted her to act. That’s male fantasy 101, where a woman doesn’t get to have any agency and only serves the men and the patriarchal family around them (which includes women suffering from internalized sexism syndrome). The things that she is told not to do because they’re “inappropriate” are things that are done by the Agnihotri family all the time (except the tomato theft thing and starting a fire). Every family member slaps others for one reason or another. Aryan dances whenever he wants to. Aryan gets to tackle predators the way he wants to. But Sifra can’t do all that unless someone tells her that she is allowed to do it. That is an exaggerated metaphor for what women go through in real life. Men enjoy their lack of agency. If women have any agency, they face a lot of pushback. If women act out in any way, psychological or physical torture is inflicted upon them. And the saddest part is that nobody learns anything from it.
At the end of Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya, we see that Aryan is still enjoying the fact that he has the proverbial remote control to Sifra in his hands, and Sifra has been scrubbed and programmed to yearn for Aryan. Ideally, Aryan should’ve learned that he is a misogynistic prick and that it’s futile to turn a robot into his girlfriend or wife. He evidently refuses to do that because he wants to achieve his weird fantasies by hook or by crook. Aryan’s family should’ve learned that there’s no such thing as an “ideal daughter-in-law,” but they apparently refuse to do so because the rot is too deep and they can’t create a household that’s not patriarchal in nature. And Urmila should’ve allowed Sifra to retain her memories so that she could analyze her self-worth without depending on a man. But, by the looks of it, the exact opposite of all that has happened (because that’s the reality of a patriarchal society), thereby giving a bleak conclusion to an otherwise upbeat and comedic film.
Is It connected to ‘Roohi’?
Yes, I think that Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya exists in the same universe as Roohi because, during the mid-credits scene, Janhvi Kapoor makes a cameo appearance while a piece of the song “Nadiyon Paar” (from Roohi) plays in the background. Kapoor’s character claims that she has recently joined ERobotics and is a fan of Aryan’s work. Then she asks Aryan to clarify a doubt she has. She talks about how she hasn’t had a lot of luck when it comes to love and that she has started to think that her chances of getting a good android life partner are higher than getting a good human life partner. And she wants to know from Aryan if it’s normal to love someone who is not even human. Aryan answers that the choice is between an imperfect human being with feelings and a perfect robot with no feelings, and it’s up to one’s preferences what they want to go with. Kapoor’s character says that she’ll opt for an imperfect human if she has to, and then asks Aryan out for a coffee date, and Aryan accepts her request. While all this is going on, Sifra begins to exhibit jealousy, even though her memory has been scrubbed.
In case you haven’t watched Roohi, here is a little rundown. The Hardik Mehta film revolved around the kidnapping of unmarried women so that they could be married against their will. Bhawra and Kattanni were tasked with kidnapping the titular girl, only to find out that she was possessed by a spirit named Afza. Bhawra fell in love with Roohi, and Kattanni fell in love with Afza. To separate the two (the human and the spirit), Bhawra and Kattanni tried to perform a very complicated exorcism procedure, which involved marrying a dog and then marrying Roohi and whatnot, but it backfired. When Roohi realized that there was no way for her to get rid of Afza, she decided to marry herself, thereby merging her soul with that of the spirit that had possessed her. In doing so, she retained her personality and the powers of Afza. At the end of the film, she rode off into the distance on a bike. So, when Kapoor’s character in Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya talks about not finding a partner that’s suitable for her, it’s safe to theorize that that’s, in fact, Roohi, and she is trying to find a lover who can accept the fact that she has Afza inside her, i.e., an opinionated spirit with superpowers.
What to Expect From the Maddock Monsterverse?
It’s good to see that Roohi has entered the field of robotics and is looking for love again. But since this is a horror franchise, I don’t expect the end result to be good. Who knows? Maybe Roohi has fallen in love with someone and for their sake, she is trying to separate Afza from her body and put her into a robot, thereby giving her a physical form and allowing her to live on her own. What is the process for downloading a spirit into a robot? I don’t know, and maybe that’s where Aryan’s expertise will come in handy. It’s totally possible that after what Roohi has been through, she isn’t trying to woo Aryan. She is actually trying to get Aryan to warm up to her so that she can ask the big question about Afza. If Aryan doesn’t comply, Roohi and Afza can simply kidnap him and his family and then make him do her bidding. Then again, that’s where Sifra comes in. She is clearly keeping track of Aryan’s movements, and as soon as she senses danger, she’ll help Aryan. Will she become the vessel for Afza? It’s totally possible. At least, in that way, Sifra will probably be able to put an end to the programming that forces her to be obsessed with Aryan and allow her to move on. It’s just a theory—a film theory. The actual sequel to Roohi and Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya can be something entirely different.
Now, there’s an issue with the Maddock Monsterverse. You see, Bhediya (which featured Kriti Sanon) confirmed that it was a sequel to Stree (which featured Rajkummar Rao). Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya (which featured Kriti Sanon) has confirmed that it’s a sequel to Roohi (which featured Rajkummar Rao). That means that there are two different characters being played by Kriti Sanon and two different characters being played by Rajkummar Rao, and all of them exist in the Maddock Monstervese. Therefore, somewhere down the line, Dinesh Vijan and his team have to make it clear if Bhediya and Stree exist in one universe and Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya and Roohi exist in an alternate universe. Or they have to show that all four of these films exist in the same universe, and the aforementioned actors will be appearing in double roles. To be honest, the second option is simpler, and it’ll be interesting to see Rao act opposite himself and Sanon act opposite herself, while all the other characters wrap their heads around the fact that there are multiple people in their world who look the same. Multiverse shenanigans are too ambitious at this point and can ruin the otherwise grounded nature of this franchise. If they go with that option and manage to pull it off, though, I will laud it, even though I’m so done with multiverse stories. Anyway, watch all four of these movies. You’ll probably like at least one of them, and you’ll be prepared for what’s next in the Maddock Monsterverse (hint: it’s probably Stree 2).