Women at Work

India Today - - LEISURE - —Tr­isha Gupta

Swara Bhasker has more gump­tion than most In­dian ac­tors. In just five years, she went from play­ing the teenaged daugh­ter of Deepti Naval (Lis­ten... Amaya, 2011) to play­ing the mother of a teenaged school­girl (Nil Bat­tey San­nata, 2016). In 2015, she was both a hoity-toity sis­ter to Salman Khan’s stuffy prince in Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo and an evil se­duc­tress aunty in X: Past is Present. Her most re­cent big screen out­ings—as Anarkali of Aarah’s ir­re­press­ible risque songstress and Veerey Di Wed­ding’s rich Delhi girl caught mas­tur­bat­ing—seem of a piece with her openly po­lit­i­cal, un­apolo­get­i­cally fem­i­nist Twit­ter pres­ence.

It’s Not That Sim­ple riffs off this per­sona, cre­at­ing a fe­male pro­tag­o­nist still rare for In­dian tele­vi­sion. Like a younger Ali­cia Flor­rick (The Good Wife), Mira Verma is a sin­gle mother try­ing to re-en­ter the world of work after a long mar­riage-and-moth­er­hood hia­tus. Still to get a di­vorce from her hus­band, she finds her­self the ob­ject of at­ten­tion of male friends and male col­leagues alike. Writer Charudutt Acharya cre­ates be­liev­able, up­per-mid­dle-class char­ac­ters with shades of grey, and they mostly speak like real peo­ple, but he suc­cumbs to tele­vi­sion dramatics with multiple sub­plots in­volv­ing af­fairs, work­place wars, past be­tray­als, and even a long-lost off­spring.

De­spite the low pro­duc­tion val­ues and Dan­ish As­lam’s over-dra­matic di­rec­tion, there is fun to be had and gen­der pol­i­tics to be thrashed out, even if in a slightly pros­e­lytis­ing man­ner.

In Sea­son 2, stream­ing on Voot, the world keeps show­ing Mira her aukaat as a woman—and Mira makes sure to point it out to us. Men who say such things as “You’re noth­ing but a c*** tease” and “Jab ladki gusse mein ho, sorry bolne mein hi bha­laai hai” are pretty grave provo­ca­tions. Hap­pily, the women are not beyond pro­fes­sional in­trigue, road rage or so­cial me­dia fights.

Bhasker makes the most of her writer-backed role, ably aided by a de­cent en­sem­ble cast, es­pe­cially Purab Kohli’s rak­ish jour­nal­ist.

Swara Bhasker shines in Sea­son 2 of the po­lit­i­cally savvy, if some­times preachy, It’s Not That Sim­ple

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