Actor Riya Sharma About Skewed Definitions Of Beauty And Her New Series Pinjra Khoobsurti Ka

In recent times, the skewed definition of beauty onscreen has received severe criticism and led to many series trying to tackle and broaden the definition.

In recent times, the skewed definition of beauty onscreen has received severe criticism and led to many series trying to tackle and broaden the definition.

Pinjra Khoobsurti Ka, is a new series on Colors TV that seeks to explore the dimensions of beauty and women. Just a few episodes in, and the main characters established, the story playing out on screen seems to follow the trope of ‘toxic masculinity versus woman’.

Riya Sharma, who plays the role of Mayura in the series Pinjra Khoobsurti Ka (PKK), shares some of her views and experiences about the show. 

Riya Sharma comes from a non-industry background and caught the ‘acting bug’ early on. She was passionate about acting, and got a break at 19, when she auditioned for Fear Files. Clearing the audition made her realize that she should follow her dream and pursue acting full-time. Moving from her home-town Nagpur to Mumbai, she hasn’t looked back since on her decision. 

What is Pinjra Khoobsurti Ka about?

The series PKK narrates the travails of a girl named Mayura, who gets taunted, judged solely for her looks. It is a story about how society reduces a girl to her looks, ignoring her other abilities but still shaming her for ‘getting unwanted attention’ (be it ‘eve-teasing’ by strangers or stalking by the other lead character).

Riya explains, “And though usually people are happy when they are blessed with good looks, she is very depressed, because she wants people to focus on her ability, her craft, her talent, and what she can really do and not just her beauty.” 

Stereotyping a ‘woman’s beauty’

The gold standard of beauty is often the same in all TV series, irrespective of the channel. Though not often openly acknowledged, beauty defined as ‘fair skinned and demure’, it often gives an advantage to the individual. Associated with upper caste and class privilege, it provides a mobility that remains inaccessible for many ‘ordinary’ looking people. 

Riya, very passionate about the role, shares, “You can overpower your outer beauty, as people will forget how you look like, but they would never forget how good of a person you were and how you behaved with them. There are people who actually see your talent., judge you on your talent and that matters the most.

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Beauty is going to fade away, but your inner beauty will not.” 

PKK has a ‘family cast’, with mother, father, dadi, and so on. We get to catch a glimpse of the insecurities and helplessness of a prospective bride through the character of Mayura’s sister, (dark-skinned compared to her sibling). Riya shares that the series has a lot of twists and turns to look out for, as far as the characters are concerned. The other lead actor portrayed is very ‘masculine, and dominating. 

Toxic masculinity

Speaking about this representation, Riya said that the show is attempting to portray the rights and the wrongs as well as to right the wrongs, on “how you shouldn’t be and how you should be.”

She realises it’s going to be a delicate balance to walk the fine line of not glorifying ‘toxic masculinity’, but is confident about the approach taken by the series. “I think the character Mayura won’t give up, and obviously, you know to fight back,” says Riya.

Shooting the series in the time of COVID

PKK premiered August, 24, 2020 and shooting in the times of rising COVID infections has been stressful as well. 

Riya explains the precautions and the strategies strictly followed by the production company, to keep the crew safe. The ‘new normal’ of gloves, social distancing, and digital scripts seemed to have eased into a proper schedule with the shoots progressing. 

Riya, who is working out of Mumbai, says that her mother had been her most important role-model in life. She considers her independence, and her confidence in pursuing her ambitions, a result of the progressive parenting by her mother. Riya’s motto for empowerment is, Be independent, be on your own, don’t be dependent on anything else.

“I came to Bombay, and my mother wasn’t there with me,”, says Riya. “She is a lecturer, and she had to work, but you know, there are parents who don’t let you handle it with so much confidence and everything, and parents would definitely have concerns, they would accompany you, not really let you live by yourselves. But my mother was like – you have to take care of yourself, you want to do this, you go do it.”

With very few episodes in, Riya is excited about Pinjra Khoobsurti Ka, and her message to the viewers is to wait and watch how her part is going to unravel. 

Image source: Colors TV

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Ambica G

Am a feminist who wished for a room but got stuck in a jar. Still, I go on clueless but hopeful and I keep writing. Taking it one step at a time! read more...

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