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Tribhanga Had Relatable & Strong Women But Tandav Only Stereotyped Them Yet Again!

Posted: January 22, 2021
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Tribhanga & Tandav released earlier last week, but the portrayal of women in both differed drastically. Why was there such a difference?

A version of this was earlier published on the Women’s Web Hindi channel and is translated by Aditi Singh Kaushik for Women’s Web English.

OTT Platforms have become an integral part of most of our lives for a few years now. During the coronavirus pandemic, their relevance grew further. With nothing significant to do, we switched to OTT platforms and had many web series available at our fingertips.

While some series and movies were easily forgettable, certain others, left their marks on the minds of the viewers. Some series became further relatable as the viewers saw themselves being represented there. A shift in the storyline in may of the web series drew viewers towards them.

Today, most of them focus on the life of the common people and the intricacies they face on a daily basis. Thus making the shows much more relatable and enjoyable.

Last week, web series Tandav and the movie Tribhanga were released on Amazon Prime and Netflix respectively. In both of these, women were central to the main storyline.

The portrayal of women in Tandav was problematic

Though women were central to the storylines, it is still important to have conversations about their portrayals in mainstream media. In a country like ours, this conversation is further important since what we watch on our screens, directly and indirectly, impacts us and our thinking. It becomes vital to ensure that long-running stereotypes of women are not portrayed in the shows.

A few days after its release, Tandav came under fire for its portrayal of Hindu deities in an undignified manner which hurt the religious sentiments of people. According to a report in India Today, the outrage against the web series has drawn FIRs in various states of India.

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise to see yet another web series come under the scrutiny of the netizens. Especially since most of them express outrage on social media platforms.

It seems to say women can’t succeed on their own

However, among the many things that the series drew outrage, the stereotypical and wrong portrayal of women wasn’t one. The show portrays all the successful women who attained success simply due to the presence of men in their lives.

This kind of portrayal shows that women are not capable of succeeding on their own. It sends a very wrong message to the viewers as it shows them that women do not reach heights due to their own merit or talent but due to their ‘connections.’ And that they can succeed only if they have help from men to get where they aspire.

What message does this send to the predominantly young population that consists of so many independent and self-made women? This portrayal simply puts a stain on the years of hard work by women and reduces them to merely nothing!

If anything, I feel that the makers of Tandav should apologise for this!

Why was Tribhanga different in this aspect?

It is no secret that women have to face a lot of challenges and fight several obstacles to reach their goals. And despite this, some succeed while some don’t. The Netflix film Tribhanga shows the story of three such women on a quest to find starkly different things for themselves. These three individuals are beautifully layered on the film.

The maker of the film describes the three characters ‘through the language of dance.’

She says, “Nayantara is Abhanga, a slightly mad genius. Masha is Samabhanga, a completely balanced while Anuradha is skewed and weird, she is Tribhanga. A brain stroke that puts Nayantara in a coma then forces the broken family to reunite and deal with their differences.”

Why we need a better portrayal of women characters

Every writer gets a fixed and comfortable space to fit every character in a movie or series. With so much space and time, can women not be portrayed in a correct manner? Why are women portrayed in a way that contradicts their reality and degrades them before a society which already places them under a constant radar?

Questions like these should gain attention and prevalence. Unfortunately, every aspect of the show came under scrutiny except this. Why? Because many films and shows have normalized the stereotypical representation of women.

For a very long time, women are being objectified in Bollywood films and songs. Songs like ‘Fevicol Se’ and ‘Munni Badnaam’ are not only utterly cringeworthy but prove how rampant the objectification of women is in pop culture.

This culture of objectification and stereotyping of women has a significant impact on the masses, particularly the youth. We mirror what we see in movies and shows and the messages we receive through them impacts our thinking process.

Thus, the correct portrayal of women is very important to remove the ingrained biases and stereotypes ingrained in our minds. A change in the way we are represented will only come if the focus of the outrage and scrutiny also shifts towards vital matters like this.

Picture credits: Still from Netflix movie Tribhanga and the Amazon Prime series Tandav

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