Let’s talk about it I guess, maybe? Okay a little? No? Well think about it, will you? OK fuck it call it something else and subvert public opinion based on their biases with sophistry.
Let me just start with some basics, this is a review of the new web series by “Y-films” or some hip “cool dood” version of Yash Raj called “Man’s World”, I will let my mind wonder a bit trying to cover recent comments of one Parineeti Chopra who has a cameo role in this series which sort of match the greater narrative of this show. Along with this I will shortly look at the other criticisms leveled against the series and somewhere in there you will find my own qualms and concerns and meandering thoughts. OK, so we good?
What is this Man’s World Mini-Series all about?
This series is clearly from a male perspective front to back, and very you know, sterile…eh…how do I put it softly…have you seen a Yash Raj Film? Always a happy ending? Lesson learned at the end? Everything so explicit that, it takes a certain level of disbelief to enjoy the film? Yes? Am I getting some were? Ok, let me just try to explain the plot. Starting at the first episode, we’re introduced to a male character called Kiran who has a very lopsided premeditated view of how the world works and is constantly seen either berating or trying to “get with” women or generally bitching about how they (women) are treated better than men, by in large a typical caricature of a male right activist type people, who feel men are treated unfairly against women. So as the story progresses he keeps getting pissed off over the most inane things in his life ,in relation to women and finally breaks down when this girl he’s trying to court drops out of the engagement they had made earlier that day.
Rather than asking her what’s up with her, he starts to get drunk after calling up his friend who is equally misogynistic, and finally when they get done drinking and chatting, Kiran decides to go to some rooftop and he asks god for a switcheroo of gender in a drunken fit. Saying (I’m paraphrasing) that let me switch places with a women, he won’t bitch about the stuff that they (the women do) specifically he won’t demand feminism and won’t act like women do if his situation was like theirs.
The lack of a gender spectrum was also very annoying. Seeing all the people either be full on manly or feminine was very evocative of how most of the straight population see each other or how the writer of the series sees it rather as none seemed sort of masculine or sort of feminine other than one of the parts where the Lady from the bar saves Kiran from the police, who is sort of moderate on the spectrum.
OK, now that’s out of the way, I have a problem with the deity here, who makes a lopsided universe and then reverses the man’s role in that to be equally oppressive as that of a women and makes women do EXACTLY THE SAME SHIT MEN DO, as if a lopsided society would likely lead to the same future but for the men this time as against the women. Even if you just disregard this and take it for work of fiction and nothing else as in ignoring the world that has been set up over here.
To my mind’s eye this seems like a tone deaf attempt. It barely considers the playing field that it has of ideas to kick around, I mean seriously let your mind wonder a bit? Does your universe have to start and end at what you see? Can’t you take a leap of faith in few ways? Maybe have deeper female characters, rather than turning them into an equally oppressive male stereotype? Might you not just go ahead and make this story have the same plot lines with a female centric character?
Oh Crap…I forgot this was Yash Raj….sorry…continue, add some more happy go lucky scores in a forced manner, continue being that cutesy thing that you’ve always been. On a deeper level though I think this problem is way more problematic when you can’t even imagine a different reality even in fiction. It speaks volumes about a mentality that cannot be uprooted with one blow. I guess this is a start though, but knowing how things usually work I won’t be waiting for a future that is more profound and meditated.
Getting back to it, the thing is while the show is in its own broken way pushing people to think, it is very overt, the way the overall presentation goes, there is barely any subtlety in the plot everything from how the story progresses to the each shows ending, feel very tacked on and blunt, which isn’t a bad thing but when you do it to death, it becomes a bit much. I mean seriously, my sharing this video is barely going to change anyone’s view on gender equality or feminism, especially when you put your jack hammer on the extreme mode. I was at a point just imagining some middle aged uncle coming out of the woodwork to say something like “Han yeh toh, sahi bataya hai!” “Aisey he hota hai, ladkiyon ke sath” “Bahut badhiya dikhaya hai app ney, meri toh ankhey hi khol di app ney!” “Wah!” (Trans. “OMG! YOU HAVE OPPENED MY EYES! TO THESE TRUTHS!” “NOW I AM UNDERSTANDS HOW IT FEELS” “THIS IS EXACTLY HOW, THINGS GO DOWN OMG WHY HAVEN’T I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS!?”).
But alas, this is all a figment of my imagination they don’t go that far. But still they cross the line and are full on overt. I guess I understand on some level their thought process would be leveled against the general population who barely think about this stuff, and it’s hard to present subtlety to an Indian audience and this gets to a level of almost belittling the viewer and their ability to understand the slightest of nuance presence in the plot by being full flung overt and on top of that having the actors come and over explain this thing to death isn’t really a nifty solution to misunderstanding. Maybe it was an effect of the investment of UN’s The Global Goals for Sustainable Development , last time I remember UN poking their head into something related to feminism or gender was with this UNICEF video called “Baap wali bat” and that was something to behold I guess with its song telling father to act like idiots and uphold the patriarchal structure and save a girl child among other things like, let her go and study in a school and not get married early, it’s like you have humanized the girl child right? The TV show if looked at from that perspective, is better. But you know, it could’ve been a lot more, and it totally failed to take the bull by its horns.
Now there could be X number of things that led to this, Yash Raj/UN other producers and people who put money into this thing might have influenced this thing. Let us put aside that and think about just who is directing and writing this thing and what kind of perspective it brings to the table. It’s not a women and by extension the representation of problems are a mere caricature of women and how they function or would function in a “women’s world”, they are literalist and by extension being unimaginative. This almost harps back to morality plays of 15-16th century in the sense that it has a set agenda of sensitization, rather than anything else and how it does it is very blatant and unbecoming of something that tries to instill moral values via storytelling, also considering it’s supposed to be a comedy with dramatic elements. It barely packs much comedic value other than those few CID gags or the Vagina sign held up by Kalki Koechlin character among a few other things.
Other Criticisms and Conclusive Thoughts.
I have watch the whole series which is available online, I very rarely had a moment where I was able to have a different perspective on the series, its commentary what little it has is one note. I don’t know, maybe I was expecting too much from the get go. Perhaps a lowered expectation approach might have been more fruitful. Hopefully they try to push the envelope more than a square inch next time. Again I would’ve liked to hear from more women on this though, sad to see even the ladiesfinger had an article by a man on this, the only one from a women I did find was at best 2 paragraph, hardly any insight but I mostly agreed with it & the former one as well. I also ended up watching the 3(so far) behind the scene or interview with the starts thing they added few days back and I thought that was way better at reaching out to people and trying to tell people why this is the need of the hour or why more people need to think about feminism/gender equality in a sober manner.
The “F” word
As an aside I saw this tabloid report that quoted Parineeti Chopra saying “I do feel proud of my gender, of being a woman. I do speak against gender inequality. I am the brand ambassador for Haryana’s ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ campaign. And I think it is very important for me personally to strive for equality, especially the industry that I come from,” & “Now, I understand and accept that anything that I do, could and I hope should inspire young girls. Now, I am very particular about what I say or do. If that makes me half a feminist, then that’s okay. I want girls to be treated the way men are. Somewhere we lack that in our country. So, I do want to be a role model but not a feminist.” It’s truly sad to see crap like this, when you cannot even articulate the word or shudder at the thought of being associated with this word, just because it has certain connotation, doesn’t mean you can just wish it away and its true meaning which you tend to lean towards. But I guess she does come from a certain place and it’s understandable on some level but very few people even try to walk the walk when it comes to the word. See now even I’m not able to say it…what was it? Feme…nazi? Yeah! That’s what goes around some people’s head I’m sure Parineetis’ publicist being one of them or perhaps she herself. Who knows…
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