Nothing Achha About ALT Balaji’s ‘Gandi Baat’
Ekta Kapoor’s ALT Balaji recently came out with its rather bold and controversial web series, Gandi Baat.
The show claims to tell the audience stories from rural India on topics that are not spoken about openly, such as threesomes and BDSM.
Gandi Baat is set to be a ten-episode web series, out of which four have already been released on the platform.
One might think – what a great progressive step taken by ALT Balaji, keeping in mind the one-dimensional female characters usually portrayed in its television series. Hate to disappoint you, but Gandi Baat falls short in its 'progressive' take.
The Trending Trailer
The trailer, which released on YouTube on 2 May, led to a storm all over social media. Currently, it has over 11 million views. In the past week, it grabbed the number one spot on the YouTube India trending list.
From the trailer, you know Gandi Baat has some sexually explicit scenes, like a man forcing himself on his daughter-in-law, or a young boy making sexual advances on his sister-in-law, or a couple indulging in BDSM. Perhaps it was indication enough that the show will be ridden with sleaze under the cliché of bold.
Also Read : 5 Things That Happen Only In a Balaji Soap!
The first four episodes contain heavy doses of sexism, nudity, and crude language. Before you think I am being a prude, let me give you an example of how absurdly it is put together.
The first episode, titled 'Threesome', is a story of a married couple and their neighbour. The husband Namvar catches his wife Gunjan in bed with their neighbour. After a few minutes of over-reacting, hurling abuses, and even threatening them with a gun, Namvar decides to join in and take the twosome to a three-way.
What's more, three minutes into the first episode, you are already encountering sexism. The neighbour, Dhudhiya, in a conversation with his friend, says, “Ek glass dhoodh ke liye puri ki puri gayyiya apne sar baandh le? (For just one glass of milk, why take the burden of raising a cow?).” The cow is, of course, a derogatory and casually sexist reference to women. And this is just the beginning, such comments keep getting worse.
The episode begins with Namvar 'protecting' his wife and marking his 'territory'. When he looks at a man harassing his wife, he unzips his pants and pees in front of him. A (rather uncalled?) act of hyper-masculinity, don't you think?
Unlike his usual bouts of anger, there was complete calm on his face. More than showing concern for his wife, he cared about the fact that how can any other man try to take away ‘his property’ (his wife) from him. I guess, you can judge a man by the way he pees!
The show, in an attempt to portray sexual liberation of women in rural India, has ended up portraying them as victims of physical and verbal abuse.
In episode three, called 'Vasu Naag', a man (brother-in-law) spits on a woman's blouse and screams, "Batameezi karne ka mauka toh do, maa kasam bahut maza denge (Give me a chance to misbehave and I will give you a lot of pleasure).” In the same episode, a husband refers to his wife as ‘atte ki bori (a sack of wheat).’
After a point, you would rather just watch a cat video on your Facebook feed than pay attention to this stinking collection of misogyny.
What’s With The LOUD Music?
With four episodes on the table, the plotline of Gandi Baat seems to be rather weak, with unconvincing dialogue delivery and over-dramatised scenes.
What makes it worse is the constant use of loud music in the background. One is reminded yet again of Kapoor's soap operas. The music ends up drowning the dialogue instead of enhancing the impact or setting the mood.
The music also feeds into the double standards of the web series. In a sexually charged scene, the man's point of view is often emphasised with the use of loud music, signifying dominance and control. The women are further shown to be victims, with music that sets them up as weak. As their scenes are always accompanied with music that has a really suppressive and dull tone attached to it.
So I guess, the studio was more focused on perfecting the fake sex sounds (which are hilarious, btw) than writing a better story.
A Venomous Affair
Indian television has had a history of flirting with supernatural themes and the use of CGI technology. Remember the popular show on Colors called Sasural Simar Ka? Yes, the same one in which the protagonist Simar turned into a fly.
Well, get ready to bow down to Kapoor’s (a little too out-of-the-box?) imagination in Gandi Baat. In the episode 'Vasu Nag', women in the village are involved in a sexual relationship with a snake. Yes, A SNAKE! Kapoor still hasn't come out of the Naagin hangover it seems! For viewers, the surprise doesn’t end here. Matters escalate even further as a woman claims to produce three eggs of the snake. Are you kidding me? What next? A human snake hybrid who saves the world?
The show does uneasily graze the territories of soft porn, with content being compromised for forced nude scenes.
Finally, all these disappointments put together only makes the show fall short of its grand aim of showing women's sexual freedom, the 'rumoured truth' of our villages.
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