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Financially successful, socially respected, and seemingly contentedly married for 20 years, they are surrounded by friends as they celebrate the opening of their third restaurant. But…
Alt Balaji’s latest offering is His Storyy. Is the extra ‘y’ meant to convey to us that the story is about the gender with the y chromosome? One of those mysteries of the universe we will never unravel!
Over 11 episodes, this newly released series takes us on a long trek into the lives, minds and unresolved traumas of its principal characters and their children.
On the surface of it, the narrative is a fresh take on homosexuality, and a story seemingly told from a man’s perspective. Does it deliver, though? Read on to find out.
The opening credits are a spoiler in themselves, as we get a gist of the upcoming scenario in sepia-tones and languid looks. We dive right into the lives of a couple, Sakshi and Kunal, chef-restaurant owner and her business head-supportive spouse respectively. Financially successful, socially respected, and seemingly contentedly married for 20 years, they are surrounded by friends as they celebrate the opening of their third restaurant. Of course, perfection is a trope made for scripts to move into problem territory, and in this case, the ‘problem’ is a person.
Enter Preet, culinary critic and inconveniently Kunal’s gay lover of three years.
The core of the story is basically this: a) man juggles lover and family, b) man’s wife finds out and falls apart, c) man is in deep doo-doo, because said family falls apart, d) all the other adults and children in the series add to the clamor by bringing their personal/intergenerational traumas to a giant buffet table of prejudices and stereotypes, and everybody feeds off everyone else’s dysfunctional energy.
Didn’t make any sense? Yeah, not to me either.
Let’s back up a bit.
That the subject is being tackled at all, makes me want to say, “About time!” How the subject is being tackled will take up the rest of this post.
His Storyy is presented to us as if the scriptwriters all met in a room and decided to write down every conceivable stereotype about the subject on slips of paper. Remember those ‘chits’ from school? Yes, those. They folded them up, tossed them into a box, shook-shook-shook, and flung them into our faces with a cheery “There’s your story!”
Carefully gift-wrapped in the lingo of the moment, we are witness to homophobic slurs, the virile and mind-numbingly unidimensional Punjabi male, routinely cheating husbands, par-for-the-course gender injustice, single motherhood as a failure, bratty rich kids, the stern, uncompromising principal without a single course in child development, and parents too caught up in their own traumas to teach their children at 6 what they expect them to magically know at 16.
Even in this attempt at liberal exploration, female characters lament about where they went wrong, blame themselves, console each other that “girls are difficult to raise”, and, when faced with the shitstorm that is their spouse’s infidelity and homosexuality (considering that this was a heterosexual marriage), offer a threesome as a solution.
Oh, and the spouse’s response? One for the ages: “You need to calm down.” Familiar much, ladies?
Those with a perceptive eye will observe how negatively the men in the series are affected by notions of toxic masculinity, whether they be young boys considering their sexuality, or men who have known their orientation all their lives but choose to push the knowledge away.
But sadly, other than occasional glimpses of promise, the script is lamer than Sakshi and Kunal’s recent sex life, and the actors can’t make a dent in it. As much as you are rooting for the women to step up and shine in the narrative, that moment never arrives. Much like a boyfriend who has future potential but is a present-moment dud, this series is best left at first base.
Move on, ladies. There are better, if not bigger, fish in the sea.
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