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Whether it is in stand-up comedy or in Bollywood, female comedians in India find that they don't receive fair treatment.
While watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (2017-present), I realised how difficult it was for standup comedians, especially women, to sustain themselves during the 1950s.
In the present day too, however, men have it a lot easier. We see Akash Gupta, Kenny Sebastian, Abhishek Upmanyu, and a never-ending list of men performing stand-ups in both Indian and international spaces. But, when it comes to women comedians, the common notion remains that they are inherently unfunny.
Even in today’s time, we find certain male-centric meme pages mocking women for only being able to crack jokes about their vaginas – mainly about sex, menstruation and pregnancy. But, the question is whether women are genuinely less funnier or hardworking than men.
If I were to answer that, I would any day say that Mallika Dua, Kusha Kapila, and Sumukhi Suresh are either as funny as or better than the men who receive more views than them on YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Netflix.
Stand-up comedy is most certainly not the only place where women comedians are given less attention than they deserve. Somehow, Bollywood treats them as less than even the weakest of damsels in distress.
I remember watching Mallika Dua and Srishti Srivastava’s viral video about attractive girls receiving all the male attention back in 2016 and laughing hysterically. Even then, I’d wondered how successful these two deserved to be. But, sadly, a few years later, both of them gave in to the superficial character tropes they had criticised in that video. They eventually ended up playing the parts of the attractive female protagonist’s friend in unsuccessful films like Indoo Ki Jawani (2020) and Ok Jaanu (2017) respectively. What a waste of their talents!
Something similar can be said about Prajakta Kohli, as well, who despite having millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram, needs to play the role of the male protagonist’s sister in the film Jugjugg Jeeyo (2022). Not only is she fresh and spontaneous, but is also someone millennials would like to watch. But still, it is comedian Manish Paul who has a better role and more on-screen time in the film as compared to her.
Dua, Srivastava, and Kohli’s career journeys helped me understand that women comedians aren’t just competing with men in order to succeed in their lives but even with other women who might be considered better looking by the masses. So many of these comedians are talented and hardworking performers who would most certainly do a better job at playing the role of a bubbly girl next door in Bollywood films.
However, actors like Kiara Advani, Sonam Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, and Kriti Sanon end up getting cast for these roles despite their awkward dialogue deliveries and average acting skills (simply because of how they look?) Are all girls next door meant to be more than five feet seven inches tall, have a waist size of 28 inches, be fair-skinned and have Eurocentric, sharp facial features?
Are these the only traits we, as a community, are looking for in women?
Top image is a screengrab from the Girliyapa video referenced
A dysgraphic writer who spends most of their time watching (and thinking about) Bollywood films. read more...
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
“What is a woman’s job, Ramesh? Taking care of parents-in-law, husband, children, home and things at work—all at the same time? She isn’t God or a superhuman."
The arrays of workstations were occupied by people peering into their computer screens. The clicks of keyboard keys were punctuated by the occasional footsteps moving around to brainstorm or collaborate with colleagues in their cubicles. Most employees went about their tasks without looking at the person seated on either side of their workstation. Meenakshi was one of them.
The thirty-one-year-old marketing manager in a leading eCommerce company in India sat straight in her seat, her eyes on the screen, her fingers punching furiously into the keys. She was in a flow and wanted to finish the report while the thoughts and words were coming effortlessly into her mind.
Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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