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Hum Paanch, one of the most popular serials of the nineties, still touches our hearts with its feminist portrayal of girls as they really are.
In the midst of the current saas bahu sagas where the ‘adarsh bahu’ is mostly shown as someone who is a sexist society’s dream come true, the empowering yet fun TV serials of yesteryear such as Hum Paanch makes us yearn for the days gone by.
So, when the cast recently decided to reunite after two decades to create a special episode, it surely warmed the cockles of our hearts. Hum Paanch was one of those serials that received a cult status with its content which everyone in the family found relatable and endearing.
Zee TV, which aired the show, had recently completed 25 years and hence plans on airing a three-hour long special episode to mark the occasion, the reunion of the Hum Paanch cast was a part of this episode.
Besides giving us one of India’s most beloved and powerful actors, Vidya Balan, along with other talented actors, Hum Paanch’s stellar cast shot to celebrityhood status because of its humorous and feminist content. The story revolved around a middle class man, Anand Mathur who always got into trouble due to his five daughters, Meenakshi, Radhika, Sweety, Kajal, and Chhoti. While the three elder daughters were from Anand’s first wife, the last two were from his second wife, Bina.
Stepmothers can be friends
The serial showed Anand visiting Bina’s place along with his three daughters to ask for her hand in marriage. Though Bina and her stepdaughters had a few clashes in the beginning, they became the closest friends post Bina’s marriage to Anand. Instead of showing a cruel or evil stereotypical stepmother, the serial showed how stepmothers could be nice and loving and the daughters in turn could accept them as one of their own.
Women who aspired for more than just a domestic existence and a pretty appearance
Meenakshi, Anand’s eldest daughter, is a feminist whom many ‘90’s girls grew up idolizing. Radhika, the second daughter, is an intelligent and geeky girl, with a hearing impairment once again showing the inclusive nature of the serial.
In the melee of different kinds of characters, the third daughter, Sweety was a Bollywood crazy girl, while the fourth daughter, Kajal was the neighbourhood gunda, Kajal Bhai. The youngest daughter, Choti was a gossipy little girl.
Instead of the portrayal of the ideal Indian daughters, so prevalent in today’s Hindi serials, whose only aim seems to be to learn household work to satisfy their in-laws and husbands post marriage, this assortment of real life girls whom a lot of us could identify with, was one of the reasons why we all loved the serial so much.
It did not go on to show strong willed and opinionated women in a negative light and neither did it have any set body standards for its female cast thus promoting body positivity in an era when the term has not even attained so much of popularity.
Hum Paanch, was a serial which we think believed in treating women simply as human beings, just like men which happens to be the basic essence of feminism and that is the reason why we will always love it and think of it with fond remembrance.
Kasturi’s debut novel, forthcoming in early 2021, had won the novel pitch competition by Half Baked Beans Publishers.
She won the Runner Up Position in the Orange Flower Awards 2021 for Short Fiction.
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
Darlings makes some excellent points about domestic violence . For such a movie to not follow through with a resolution that won't be problematic, is disappointing.
I watched Darlings last weekend, staying on top of its release on Netflix. It was a long-awaited respite from the recent flicks. I wanted badly to jump into its praise and will praise it, for something has to be said for the powerhouse performances it is packed with. But I will not be able to in a way that I really had wanted to.
I wanted to say that this is a must-watch on domestic violence that I stand behind and a needed and nuanced social portrayal. But unfortunately, I can’t. For I found Darlings to be deeply problematic when it comes to the portrayal of domestic violence and how that should be dealt with.
Before we rush to the ‘you must be having a problem because a man was hit’ or ‘much worse happens to women’ conclusions, that is not what my issue is. I have seen the praises and criticisms, and the criticisms of criticisms. I know, from having had close associations with non-profits and activists who fight domestic violence not just in India but globally, that much worse happens to women. I have written a book with case studies and statistics on that. Neither do I have any moral qualms around violence getting tackled with violence (that will be another post some day).