Pushpavalli Grows on You Like a Creeper, Leaving You Uneasy
What does that mean I wonder?
It means... a creeper.
Sumukhi Suresh’s web series Pushpavalli, based on a ‘tru-ish’ story, is comic, dark, and brave.
It is a non-preachy take on contemporary issues that leaves you uneasy in your own shoes.
The Amazon Prime exclusive tells the story of Pushpavalli (Sumukhi Suresh), a
girl woman next door who moves from her hometown Bhopal to Bangalore city to pursue her dream job crush, Nikhil Rao (Manish Anand).
In one of the earliest scenes of the show, Pushpavalli looks at herself in the mirror. Who is Pushpavalli? one wonders.
Is she the rebellious daughter of a conservative body-shaming mother? Is she the creepy stalker who can traverse great lengths to get Nikhil’s attention? Is she ‘Pashupalli’, as her landlady calls her? Is she Nikhil’s ‘Lee’? Or is she just another woman?
The show doesn’t give you any clear answers, leaving room for grey areas. While at it, it explores some important contemporary issues like body shaming, social pressures — especially those of marriage — on independent working women, the cult of pretentious Godmen and bhakts, and bullying.
Suresh is nothing short of brilliant in the role of the multi-faceted protagonist.
Besides Pushpavalli, the show boasts of a small but significant array of characters. Most of them are caricatures, the sum total of people you meet and greet every single day.
There is the angry boss (Pankaj) whose words are enriched by the ample and frequent use of the F-word, brought to life by the talented Naveen Richard.
There is the hyper landlady (Vasu) who always gets your name wrong (#UniqueNameProblems) and imposes the most absurd hostel rules, played with finesse by ex-RJ Shraddha, popularly known as Aiyyo Shraddha.
There are also the creepy inseparable roommates who put the twins from The Shining to shame and always make you feel like a third wheel; ‘man-candy’ Nikhil with his timely sense of humour and charm; and a special appearance by Kenny Sebastian as a perverted stand-up comedian.
Can there possibly be a dull moment with such a cast of characters?
The Slippery Slope
In the words of T-Boi (the thug-life version of the khabhri tea-boy), aakhir lafda kya hai? Because there definitely is something about Pushpavalli that makes you uneasy.
The comic spirals very quickly into the dark and dangerous as the show juggles the question, “Should you be laughing at this?” This is perhaps not new coming from Suresh, who also created the dark comedy Behti Naak besides Pushpavalli.
However, let’s face it, Pushpavalli is a stalker, a creepy one. Is Suresh’s choice of a woman stalker as the protagonist progressive or regressive?
Is the show’s message simply that women do it too? Is it just a hilarious take on the serious subject of stalking? Or does it attempt to show the flip-side to men, a picture of what it feels like to live in the fear of being stalked day-in and day-out?
These are the questions that the show leaves you with, the final episode providing only temporary relief before throwing you face-down into another creeper’s trap.