Women at Work
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