An Alternate History of Female Characters of a Childrens' Programme about Time Travel
Look I know this has been done, like ENDLESSLY, and how a curiously persistent children's programme about a magic alien in a blue box has mysteriously taken hold of the imaginations of vast swathes of the population to conjure up alternative fantasy star casts but that won't stop me.
Face facts Who Spods. Doctor Who is a massive jumped up panjandrum of a charlatan who needs a good kicking. I mean, LOOK at him. Forever gallivanting about the cosmos with his dubiously pliant and trusting Earth based consorts (sorry, 'companions', hahahahahahaha), forever going around and *intervening* and trying to make things better with his own version of what he thinks is best for whichever hell hole of a planet he has landed on, like some Intergalactic Tony Blair.
NO. What That overblown fop needs is CHALLENGE. And the only fictional character that had so far come anywhere close in his smug little universe ('Whoniverse', *vomits*) is THE RANI.
The RANI! THE RANI! THE RANI! I was going to make this an alt history list of female Doctor Who's but its already been done, like 50 times already and all of the choices were *meh*. NO. This is a list of the previous incarnations of THE RANI. As she is INFINITELY BETTER.
Rani 1: c. 1963-1966. Margaret Rutherford.
Something of an eccentric choice for the ailing actress when approached by comrades in the BBC COMMUNIST cabal, the seasoned actress famous for playing batshit psychic Madam Arcati in Blythe Spirit and batshit Spinster detective Miss Marple (NB: there is a theme that will develop here) nevertheless agreed to take on the role of a mystical time traveling space alien whose adventures with her granddaughter could help the nations' school children with their history homework. Initial script suggestions from the actress that the show be used as a means to break down barriers over gender and sexuality - mindful of her recent adoption of one of Britains' first people to undergo gender reassignment - were however, met with disapproval. The Rani is a magical time travelling shape shifting space alien. Why of COURSE She couldn't change genders. Fears over her health however began to become apparent. In secret, auditions were held for a replacement and a plot device was constructed to explain the change in her appearance that would follow. Actresses Zohra Sehgal and Yootha Joyce were both approached but turned down the role. Producers were getting desperate. They approached....
Rani 2: 1966 - 1970 Flora Robson.
Chosen to replace 1st Rani Rutherford after a period of concern about her health, Robson played up the eccentric elements of the Rani and became the 1st actress to fully realise the explicit feminist dialectic of the role. In an era of Germaine Greer and the women's movement, Robson became the first Rani to expound on the background motives to her escapades. Namely, the overriding need to SMASH INTERGALACTIC PATRIARCHY for the future peace and prosperity of the universe. Aided by trippy visuals and freaky deaky soundtracks by DELIA DERBYSHIRE, this era of The Rani and Her Idiot assistants sketched out her time as a counterculture outlaw, inventing hallucinogenic shampoo to defeat the tyranny of the cosmetics industry.
Unfortunately the BBC wiped most of her shows. Never mid eh Beeb? You've still got all those episodes of Jim'll Fix It that you can show.
Tall? Check. Imperious demeanour? Check. Looks good in a period costume? Check. Often seen as the Definitive Rani by contrarians, Keith in many ways set the standard for many nerdy spod dames in future years. Highlights include radicalising the Sisterhood of Karn into forming a militant feminist sect venerating the SCUM manifesto as their sacred text, and some cobblers with Daleks or something.
Rani 5: 1975-1979. Diana Rigg.
Pam Grier being otherwise indisposed due to illness and the poor dollar-sterling exchange rate, the Ex Avengeress was chosen to take up the cudgels after posh leftie Penny Keith departed to attempt to subvert bourgeois aspirations for the non existent utopia of subsistence farming in the Good Life and feudalist-migrant romance To The Manor Born, Rigg was one of the few remaining actresses not by then appearing in radical agitprop. There wasn't much for her to do though in this era so she ended up doing cameo's in The Muppets instead.
Rani 6:1979-1993 Kate O'Mara
Well, *obviously*. Infinitely more badass than all the others before or since, Rani 6 remains glorious. Originally conceived as part of an effort to diversify the shows audience to appeal to ethnic minorities - The Rani was meant to have now escaped from an arranged marriage to Khan from Star Trek, O'Mara gave a barnstorming performance as the top time travelling lady psychopath working out her relationship issues through bank robbery and kidnapping of scientists to create all conquering superbrains to ... whatever.
Rani 7: 1993-4 Cathy Tyson.
Given that that the title 'Rani' is derived from the Hindi term for female ruler, and nerdy Spod rival Star Trek's fixation with all-powerful enemies with 'exotic' origins such as Khan (its Orientalism gone Mad), you would think that casting a non-white actress in the lead role for the adventures of The Rani and her hapless boy assistants would not have been that drastic a stretch of the imagination. Tyson lept at the chance offered, during an era when any attractive actress of BME origin invariably was cast as a sex worker or battered wife (or sometimes, daringly, *both*), but the ratings had been on the slide since the departure of Penelope Keith and the baffling story arcs and pretentious dialogue by John Nathan Turner set the seal on the Adventures of The Rani and her Idiot man assistants. The casting of Sylvester McCoy bombed too. Time had passed. Feminism, they said, was dead. Move along, nothing to see here.
There was talk of a reboot. people baulked.
Rani 8:1996. Amanda Donohoe.
"but, but... ITS OUTRAGEOUS that she is kissing her companion! IT IS NOT DONE!!!AASSKLKSkdkjsbdjkskij *Suirgle HATESqueeeeee*. The mass outpouring of INDIGNATION at the previously UNTHINKABLE notion that a mysterious time travelling renegade intergalactic outlaw could cop off with her hapless adoring assistant (winsome man totty Paul McGann) coupled with the fact that the ill fated reboot was cobblers and everyone was watching the X-files and Buffy and Xena Warrior Princess which was like SO much more mature right meant that La Donohoe's tenure in the Femme-TARDIS remains a lost chance that became a cult within a cult. To this day you will meet crazed Rani Obsessives who will tell you that Donohoe's interpretation of the Rani set the template for all future incarnations and she deserves another go. And before any other fuckers ask, YES SHE DOES COUNT AS A PROPER RANI YOU HERETICS.
Rani 9: 2005-6 Daniela Nardini/Sasha Behar
Nardini, aka the main actress from This Life who hasn't ended up on telly in the US unlike the drippy faux Scouser and the twat. Not sure why that is. Some sort of XX chromosome condition? Dunno. The characters in This Life were all fairly punchable but Nardini as Anna retained the saving grace of a razor sharp wit and demeanour that would smash your jaw if you looked at her funny. This being the new Millienium, Behar (Mad Maya from Coronation Street! Why of COURSE!) filled in as part of a job share and the writer Russell T Davies came up with some guff about alternate realities or fluidity of perception or something. Anyhoo, The Rani was BACK BACK BACK and all of a sudden there was REJOICING as geek ladies finally had someone badass to aspire to be rather than some sodding admiring assistant of that overrated fraud Doctor Who.
Rani 10: 2006-2009 Meghna Malik
WHAT DO YOU *MEAN* YOU'D NEVER HEARD OF HER?
Following the departure of Nardini/Behar after 1 series the franchise looked in danger of closing until a masterstroke by Show runner Russell T Davies forced the producers to look abroad. Realising that science fiction is essentially now soap for nerds, the producers drafted in Indian Actress Malik - later to wreak havoc as soap matriarch Ammaji in Na Ana Is Des Laado.
Rani 11: 2009-2013 Tatiana Maslani
"But isn't she a bit young?" wailed a cadre of spod fanz who took this sort of thing far too seriously. And "Woooo! she looks a bit odd but she's GORGE!!!!!!1!!!11!" sqeeeeeeed a whole load of other new fans. A disturbing development to those who'd ALWAYS LIKED THE RANI AND LIKED HER PROPERLY. For the 1st time the Rani was starting to become the object of an unseemly....desire. The gush of hormonally charged erotic fan fiction - from teenage *boys* - started clogging up fan forums listing the obscene things they would like Maslani would do to them. EWWWWW, griped a whole load of middle aged obsessives. But on review now after she left for Orphan Black, she was actually rather marvellous. Like, she can act and stuff. The Fez was a mistake though.
The War Rani: Glenda Jackson
Like DUUUUH. There couldn't really be anyone else to spit out blood curdling lines promising death and destruction upon all those who had threatened, oh I don't know what the plot line for all this Time War cobblers is about, could there? Just LOOK AT GLENDA. Could you imagine any other actress with that stature stomping around so fabulously? Who? Also, looks a bit gnarled. In a nice way.
Further Continuing The Indian Tradition of Child Cruelty: Isn’t this Slightly Odd?
Zee Bangla, or its cannibalised content
on UK channel Zee Café (prev Sky 846) had a particular obsession
with young g!rls. Of the main primetime Bengali and Marathi -language
shows on the channel from its launch in July 2010 to Hindi
re-branding in Dec 19 2011, 5 (Khona, Kunku, Kanya, Subarnalata,
Dance Bangla Dance Junior, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil’Champs, Marathi Paaul
Padte Pudhe - Atkepaar Zenda) featured a pre-pubescent girl in the
I’m trying to avoid the inconvenient
reminder that West Bengal (renamed ‘Paschim Bongo’ in a fit of
nationalist pique) is the child s** capital of India (Link:
Unreported World, Land of Missing Children), or the recent resurgence* of trafficking of lasses
to the Farming Hicksville Goatfucking – STRICT VEGETARIAN –
CowBelt of pious, devout, PROSPEROUS little Femicidaires in Haryana,
Punjab and Rajasthan since they’ve butchered most of their own
But is that not DEEPLY strange?
*Not new either. Writer Sharat Chandra wrote about Dad’s making a quick buck
selling their daughter’s westwards from Bengal into families in the
same area in the 19th Century.
Further Continuing The Ancient Indian Tradition of Child Cruelty
The medical profession and media in
India: it *won’t* divulge the reasons why unofficial ruler of the
country Sonia Gandhi had to leave for medical treatment in the US in
2011, leaving terrified pensioner Manmohan Singh in charge, and still prissily goes
“ooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOHHHH! Look at them k.i.s.s.i.n.g.!” when
confronted by the poster for films featuring couples like Ashiqui,
but it is happy to let the world know
the following pieces of medical information:
Child assault victim nicknamed
‘Gudiya’ (=Doll. They like their irksome nicknames. The Delhi
bus victim is now ‘Braveheart’) in April 2013 (the 5 year old,
not the other 6 year old one also namesaked later that month after
being found unconscious in a public toilet) after being abducted
from a school playground ….. whilst the 6 year old has received ‘a
4 inch injury to her private parts’.
14 year old Arushi Talwar, found
murdered in her parents Greater Noida house in 2007 and the mute
spectator in the subsequent botched police investigations culminating
with the highly unsafe conviction of her parents for her murder, also
had ‘a prominent opening to her private parts’ (THANKS AGAIN INDIAN MEDIA) which implies she’d done SEX* because
she had also a disgraceful habit of TALKING WITH BOYS.
matter that she might have been raped, Conservative Indians will
Always Know She Led Him On.
confidentiality obviously not being a primary concern when the
victims in question are not party chiefs.
The year before it was ‘Baby Falak’,
a battered toddler dumped in hospital by a trafficked 14 year old.
Drawing parallels with the Baby P case in the UK, the child, who
subsequently died after receiving massive head injuries was then
revealed to have been the end of a complex chain of child trafficking
(sold by her mother who was then sold on into another marriage
herself). Given the endless portrayal of child cruelty on TV soaps
you would have thought that the public would have at least had some
inkling of this, but no; magical thinking prevails as always.
Not that the continued prevalence of Child Cruelty
has stopped the mushrooming of kiddy-centred talent shows, drama’s
and comedy programmes. Not actual programmes for them though.
Programmes with them as entertainment.
It started as a spin off from regular
TV talent shows like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. There were by 2010 approximately
300 variations covering singing, dancing, singing AND dancing, stand
up comedy (they LUUURRVE fat comedy children), plus aforementioned
soap fodder. IMDB barely covers these programmes so for most
background info I have used Sky EPG, programme websites and Wiki
They scare toddlers, don’t they?
One of the most galling was ‘DanceBangla Dance Junior’ aired by Zee Bangla (Bengali language channel)
and shown on UK screens as part of the Bengali-language programming
on Zee Café (Sky 846, until Dec 2011). Running 3 nights a week,
every week for over 100 episodes between 2010 and 2011, it rapidly
lost any pretence of being an X-factor type talent competition and
morphed into an unfathomable dance psychodrama requiring its
performing children to carry out ever more technically rigorous
dances - the child with the lowest vote facing the threat of being
carried off by an animated ghost. Presiding over events was former
Bollywood film star Mithun Chakrobarty who drunkenly
listlessly played some sort of Wizard or sh!t with the power to gift
magic tokens (balls, literally) to fend off the ghost.
The ghost. Essentially Skeletor from the old He-Man cartoons, but just
different enough to avoid copyright infringement, he would pop up
intermittently to launch into bizarre unfunny routines and scare the
children. This included reducing one of the youngest performers, star
toddler Dipanita Kundu (age: 4) to tears. Rather than attempting to
comfort the child (other than when the script demanded, i.e. in
recognition of a particularly show-stopping dance) this seemed to be
a comedy interlude.
(I could embed a clip of her here. but given that if I go on you tube to look at it i get bombarded with ads for russian mail order brides i'm terrified i might end up Yewtree'd. Try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UibZtawXygs)
And so another episode would trigger me
complaining to OFCOM.
Not that Dipanita’s Mother seemed
overly bothered by the privations: in this 2010 Times of India
she was surprised to note:
Says Paramita, "My daughter,
Dipannita, loves to watch anything related to children on television.
I have seen her shed tears when she sees children being beaten
up in serials or classic movies. [remember: she’s 4]
If a film is well-made, I think she will watch it though she hasn't
yet watched any children's movies in theatres. She hasn't watched
Potter movies or the Ray classics yet." And if Dipannita is
offered a role in a movie now, can she leave her show to shoot for
it? "Right now, I don't think it's possible since this show has
made her a household name and I can't be lured into making her do
movies at the cost of this show. In future, I'll definitely consider
such offers if they come by," she says.”
Given the sensation she generated with
her stint on DBD it’s unlikely that she’d be allowed to live a
life away from the limelight. Later episodes had also introduced a
hated rival (age: 2 ½ ) to out-cute her, casting her as an insecure
burn-out before she could attend primary school. I’m sure the poor
genius has a brilliant future ahead of her. Things worked out SO well
for Michael Jackson and Judy Garland
There is a graveyard of
washed-up actresses (mainly actresses,), who nearly always ‘stray’
in the eyes of the Indian media, leading inexorably to grief. The
recent demise of tousled haired self-styled ‘free spirit’ Jiah
Khan is an exception, since she was an actress raised in the west who
found herself hopelessly adrift in the Bollywood shark tank.
(The moment she popped
up as the barely 19 year old EMPOWAD Lolita clone in debut film
Nishabd against Amitabh Bachchan – ex squire/slayer of former
fragile co-stars Parveen Babi and Rekha, and directed by the self
proclaimed auteur of po-faced softcore that masquerades as films of
Important Social Comment Ram Gopal Verma, we should have known she
aforementioned Babi – breathtakingly
successful in the 1970’s and the 1st ever Star to grace
the cover of TIME magazine, she did what any moderately ambitious
actress in the peak of her career might consider – she opted for a
Ah. And then she did
it. That thing.
That terrible terrible
She posed topless.
Whereas the Obligatory
Tit Clutching Photoshoot is now par for the course in Bollywood for
every 25+ actress struggling to prove she’s Still GOT IT, then, and
particularly doing this for the Amriki symbolised the crossing of a
very definite line. No matter that Bollywood is now the refuge for
every shit faded porn star whose acting skillz even make the makers
of Donkeys Gone WIYLD baulk.
And so began, in the
narrative, the descent into what would end in paranoid Schizophrenia and death as a recluse
See also PersisKhambhatta- known globally as The Bald Alien Space Chick in Star Trek
The Motion Picture, but forever sullied in the eyes ofthe Indian media for
having done a titty shot in Playboy. Both died disturbingly young.
This is also ALWAYS mentioned in the media. It is as if leaving India
– let alone *sinking* towards slack western morals means a sort of
rejection tantamount to betrayal.
What then will be the
likely reaction when awareness of The Mindy Project (for it will
happen) goes critical in India? I am vaguely aware of the Indian
Diaspora in the US. From the point of view of someone from the UK,
they form an interesting case study – what might have happened if
there hadn’t been a critical mass of working class Gujju,
Bangladeshi or Punjabi/Pakistani migrants to the UK, rather than the
elite cadre of Tamils, Bengali’s, and Kannadans working in IT,
academia and Medicine. No Southall, no Blair Peach, no Grunwick
Strike or Hillingdon Health Workers, No Newham 7.
I doubt if you’d get
a mass appeal for the tragic contests Indo-Americans revere like
Spelling Bees in the UK - Outside of the tragic child genii featured
on Channel 4 in June 2013. Too nerdy. Too showing of vulnerability in
a hostile climate. Witness the histrionics on Twitter at Child Genius
Shrinidhi Prakash and her top lip.
It’s not that there
hasn’t been outright racism in the US – far from it, ranging from
the 1980’s ‘dotbusters’ carrying out race killings in New York
to Mukaka-gate with Bobby Jindal and the attacks on Sikhs after 9/11
and the Oak Creek massacre in 2012.
But still: because of
the scattered nature of the diaspora stateside and the more overtly
aspirational backgrounds of their parents, the 2nd gen
Indian diaspora tend not to need to wear the fact that they are Asian
as desperately as it feels in the UK. Their Blog posts are WAY more whiny and rambling though as compensation.
(Enraged male relatives not pictured)
Reasons why India
will not be able to cope with The Mindy Project:
1) She’s non-Wheatish
– the tragedy being that whilst this is not so much of a
barrier in the US or UK (where one’s ethnicity is the focus) – it
almost certainly would in India. Would she grace the cover of Indian
Vogue? Would she Want to? As neatly summed up by this tweet:
“Watching The Mindy
Project. Even more wow than an Indian gal fronting a sitcom is that
IN India she'd be considered too "dark" to be a star.”
Watching The Mindy Project. Even more wow than an Indian gal fronting a sitcom is that IN India she'd be considered too "dark" to be a star.
— shinan govani (@shinangovani) October 10, 2012
2) She drinks alcohol –
and does not suffer the consequences.
3) She chases the white
– actually, this will be the absolute killer. There has
already been a snottily contorted article attempting to accuse her of
racismowing to her alleged
preference for white partners. (So let’s get this straight: Mindy
Lahiri is prejudiced for fancying white guys, but when Mirpuri taxi
drivers groom and molest predominantly white teenage girls, YOU’RE
the bigot for pointing this out? Thanks Guardian. What do you think
should be done? Should they attend an equalities workshop to make
sure they rape more BME women?)
4) She never ever ever
EVER mentions her parents. India will be utterly uncomprehending of
this. It is as if she is some sort of individual who does not
feel the need to consult with them on day-to-day functions. Does she
not love them?
5) That episode where
she gets that generically hunky Gyno to prod her Jack’n’Danny,
only she’s really hesitant and so everyone tells her to imagine her
Warrior Self is doing this instead. Using a Secret Warrior name.
Which she reveals at the end as Beyonce Pad-Thai. Beyonce. The
most supine of R’n’B singers after Rhianna. Beyonce. Not
Durga or yer Kali’s. Beyonce.
6) Did I mention this?
She is bothlooseand decidedly forward and generallybold. In India, where moral policing is creeping back into
national life (The Delhi Rapists felt they had to teach their
victim a lesson for being seen out with a male she was not
married to, remember), gamely chasing man-totty would in conventional Indian
drama terms, warrant the promissory slap from an older male relative.
Usually a burdened Father or concerned Uncle, often an older brother,
or a ‘corrective assault’ from her suitors so she realises the
error of her westerner ways – as in the pompous ‘auteur’ and
rape suspect Madhur Bhandakar’s ‘social coment’ film “Fashion”
where the lead female’s descent into disgrace is illustrated by her
Sleeping with a Black Man. Dr Mindy Lahiri does not have an Older
Brother. Indians will note this.
7) Whereas most people
who watch the Mindy Project will think “ho hum, an everyday tale of
gossamer-lite romances and chit chat about that stumpy woman who’s
an ethnic”, Indian audiences will probably not be able to get past:
“But She’s Bengali Brahmin, wouldn’t she visit relatives in
Kolkatta or something?” And from there, would flow the lost in
translation verdicts that this serves as an indictment of western
moral values, for this would be the only lesson to be learned – for
all stories featuring NRIs must be sermons that could only ever be
taken to mean that Indian values, whatever those are, are in peril
and must be defended.
8) That VOICE.
9) Courtesy of a
generation of politicised UK Asian playwrights/luvvies, all
appearances of Asian characters in UK dramas have to represent some
sort of profound cultural statement on the state of the Asian
Experience in The UK. This actually fits in *very* neatly with how UK
born Asians are portrayed in India – always the uppity Angrezi-born
who Has No Idea Of Their Culture to them is just as much a tiresome
trope as The PermaConflicted 2nd gen Indian Struggling
With Their Identity. Never mind that The Mindy Project wouldn’t
have got commissioned in India – they simply couldn’t process a
single woman living as independently as Lahiri – there is no WAY it
would have been commissioned in the UK. “But why hasn’t she been
racially abused yet?” “Should we include an allegory for the War
on Terror?” “Could we include a delightful little Bollywood song
and Dance routine? All Indians like that”, “Shouldn’t she be
more actively challenging preconceptions about the Hijab?”
10)…No, sorry, even
after they exhaust all the other options they will still return to
#6). And seethe.
August NEWSFLASH. After
an extensive search, news reaches that The Mindy Project will be
shown on Comedy Central India starting August 12th.
“She is surrounded by
quirky co-workers who consistently add to the fun factor to
her already adventurous life.”
That’s obscure enough
a channel to prevent the mass scale OUTRAGE that greeted saccharine
tv adaptation of saccharine costume drama Jodha Akbar on Zee by
“members of the Rajput Community (=CASTE)” which have subsequently
escalated into violence.
The expected form of
It will begin with
snide articles in the Times of India or FirstPost. So far India has
been studiously ignoring the Mindy Project. This will lay the ground
work for the casual misogynist browser to realise there is a show
about a dusky and homely spinster on the television. They will then
watch this. The resulting flowering of hate could well escalate into
the levels of vitriol meted out against Caroline Criado-Perez.
Moral panic –
Aaj Tak will find a way to link this to Dancing parties where
wimmens taking DRUGS and moral policing.
Questions asked in
Parliament – I wouldn’t put it past them, if they can do the
same about child bride soap Balika Vadhu.
Burning effigies –
Mindy Lahiri representing the shameless womens of westerner life and
disgraceful moral lacktitude and the threat she poses to Indian
Moral values. Bets on when the 1st will be burnt – late
Some sort of
attempt to link this to the myriad grievances India has against the
Amriki. Probably led by a Bollywood star jealous at his continuing
failure at entering H-town. I’m looking at the ageing Ham Bachchan
perceiving some sleight caused by the programme to his country folk
and attempting some magnanimous comment on twitter that then turns
into a shit storm.
not even actually that funny. But I don’t think that will actually
matter. Meanwhile, the countdown to the shitstorm on the subcontinent
Bollywood’s Disastrous attempts to CONQUER Amriki fillum and supplant evil Britisher Culture: A Guide
It’s a curious blind-spot. The Indian media show
a near-obsessive interest in what the West (be they Britishers or Amriki) thinks,
or makes, of the achievements its far-flung Diaspora. How Indians’ hearts were
warmed by the news that Keith Vaz, Indianorigin Keith Vaz, had been invited to Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral.
Such ACCEPTANCE! Every 2nd Bollywood news article
on a moderately successful new actor or more specifically actress in B-town
will speculate as to whether THIS actress will be The One. The One to finally
do it. To finally manage to break Hollywood.
A summary of previous attempts:
How we squealed in anticipation in 2010 at the
imminent breakthrough of item-girl-CUM-general titjiggler Mallika Sherawat (See
previous), set to STORM Hollywood
with her GROUNDBREAKING erotic Horror movie Hiss.
Aided by excitable tweets from the self
proclaimed Queen of Twitter on Bollywood, the Indian media THRILLED at news of
Madam’s star studded life being in the same restaurants as some people who were
on the TV, and having a milkshake named after her.
This, they believed, would be IT. As of June
2013 Sherawat was personae non grata in India
for the unforgivable crime of calling India
of women’s rights’, well done whoever came up with that) ‘regressive’ in its attitudes
towards the wimmens. Cue ritual evisceration by other Bollywood filth eager to
shout down any introspection with cries of JAI HIND as usual.
Meanwhile ageing ham and Shiv Sena groveller Amitabh
Bachchan appears to still be kidding himself that he will conquer Hollywood. Indian media
thrilled at his insistence on speaking in Hindi at press conferences in Cannes
2013 to promote The Great Gatsby (cast as Meyer Wolfsheim!! Hitler obsessive
Bal Thackeray would be horrified!) “this means,” said an awestruck relative,
“that they are really Scared of Bollywood’s power now, Bollywood is going to
bring everybody to its cause….”
(Pic via DigitalSpy)
Or the attempts of Aishwarya Rai to BREAK Tinseltown in
(Pic: wikipedia updated Nov 2013)
Mistress of Spices (the usual magical realism dog shit involving
anything Indian that involves La Aishwarya being winsome-and-a-wibbling) –
bored audiences didn’t quite *get* the Rai magic:
“About all that can be said about The Mistress
of Spices is that actress Rai manages to retain a straight face while uttering
some of the most risible dialogue ever heard in a supposedly serious drama”
(that’s every Bollywood film ever made, pal)
The Pink Panther 2:
Bride and Prejudice
Oh fuck off. More cringeworthy Gurinder Chadha mawkishness. Solely of interest in that
it depicts a Punjabi family who are supposed to be wealthy and yet have 4
daughters. Did they not have ultrasound there?
Meanwhile “Sexiest Asian woman of 2007 and
former Miss Vivacious” Bipasha Basu has been hailed as The New Sophia Loren by
her publicity people since at least 2005.
Existing in a sort of near-recognition
globally, (she’s currently best remembered as having got off with Ronaldo in a
nightclub and formerly shagging dimwit Zoolander –like Model-turned-actor John
Abraham), Bipasha Madam might *just* get to see the release of her debut
actioner Singularity in 2013 after only 2 years in production. Great! And the
Indian media proudly notes that “it features not only her picture, but mentions her name too.”
The actors that manage to make some sort of living in LA
tend to be those with credentials as character actors (Irfan Khan, Om Puri,
Shabana Azmi). That there *are* actors who manage to cut it over there doesn’t
stop the Indian media crying racism whenever one of the more photogenic actors falls flat with the
mediocre appearances they manage in Hollywood.
So you would think, surely, that a top rated show, starring
an Indian origin lead – a Female Lady
person – that had gained strong ratings in the US would have had wall to
wall coverage in the Desi press, not to mention that the English-language media
would have gone CrazyNutsso for The Mindy Project on Fox (boo!), yes?
The journey of two
individuals who tread into the world of marriage despite being wedded
earlier. Will they experience the same magic that they did in their
It seems like a trite
little premise. The programme website however, depressingly
illustrated how *bold* it appears to be for a woman who by definition
has DONE SEX before remarrying to survive daily life without being
burned at the stake for witchcraft.
Marriage only happen once and remain for lifetime? Does Remarriage
equate to marriage (??????)...does a person feel the same excitement,
same enthusiasm about his remarriage as he felt about his first
marriage. Along with remarriage, the duties,
responsibilities remain the same as marriage , even if you dont wish
to yet you have to fulfil these duties. Expectations from such
remarriage remain the same as the first marriage, does an individual
feel the same enthusiasm to fufill these dreams and expectations as
the first marriage?
The one minor surprise
here is that being a widow (traditionally shunned by loony Hindus and
Sikhs as automatically responsible for their Husband’s death) is
now not seen as so dreadful compared to a woman who was divorced (and
Divorce in India is always ALWAYS her fault). Hence the central
conceit of the female lead being fixed up with a moping widower by
her in-laws on the premise that she is a widow when – GASP – her
husband merely ran off with some strumpet. Angst ridden gnashing of
teeth ensue as her in-laws (their son is dead to them, you
see?) persist with said pointless lie for the sake of family honour,
as otherwise sourfaced widower would never consent to entering into
such an unseemly arrangement – which is only being undertaken as a
duty so his daughters have someone to cook for them and her son has
an indifferent adult male just like Daddy. But OH NOES, he actually
starts to LIKE HER. And so even a set-up where you are married to
someone you like is portrayed as Hideously Unnatural. The
looking-glass mores managed to last 300 episodes until the male lead
flounced off in 2013. Devout conservative Indian TV audiences might
also have expressed horror at lead couple Gurmeet Chaudhary and
Kratika Sengar, both having previously played venerated roles as Lord
Ram and the Rani of Jhansi in previous programmes. It’s like Jesus
A seething, embittered
childless widowed Aunt. Consistently vicious, the prospect of her
sharing house space with SHOCK! A ‘widowed’ SHOCK! Remarried
SHOCK! New wifelet results in brain melting levels of doom-mongering
at the HELL IN A HANDCART portents that this DISGRACEFUL behaviour
entails, delivered in a hissing voice and reptilian stare. Latest
coup de grace involves banning a female relative from a baby shower:
not because she’s a murderer, but because she is barren, and
therefore destined to bring ill fortune. Classy!
Continuing The Ancient Indian Tradition of Child Cruelty
(Originally started c. 2012)
Indian TV, from a
cloistered period of innocence upto the early 1990’s, rapidly
evolved, absorbed all matter of new fangled programme formats within
a matter of months of them appearing on global tv, and now finally
Further to my earlier
posting on the prevalence of CC and C actors in Indian Soaps,
trailers in late 2011 started advertising a new Soap starting on (the now defunct) NDTV
Imagine (Sky 831 in UK). Haar Jeet is the story of 2 child performers. The trailer
should be self-explanatory whether you understand Hindi or not:
Recent convulsions of
soul searching have wracked the Indian media over the case of ‘BabyFalak’, a battered toddler dumped in hospital by a trafficked 14
year old. Drawing parallels with the Baby P case in the UK, the
child, who subsequently died after receiving massive head injuries
was then revealed to have been the end of a complex chain of child
trafficking (sold by her mother who was then sold on into another
marriage herself). Given the endless portrayal of child cruelty on TV
soaps you would have thought that the public would have at least had
some inkling of this, but no; magical thinking prevails as always.
December time in India, means its time for another CC festival. The other week it was
B-dropping festival at the Dargah. Not droppings *from* a baby,
Dropping *of* a baby.
The most histrionic of the lot. Features a
permanently hypertensive EvilDAD, incessantly moping surrendered wifelets,
chronically moping sainted grans etc. After topping simpering daughters
WUNTROOLUV, has her married off to mute village hick as punishment and then
carted off to Mental Asylum in order to… oh I dunno, fulfil wank fantasy of
Wimmin In Peril TV producers, whilst helplessly bleating “Ishwar!!” to call out
to 2ndTROOLUV in a deeply annoying manner. Obligatory S/M ECT sesh results in
said helpless heroine gurning like a cunt and lolloping about like a toddler
(the standard criteria in Indian soap for actresses to prove they can Do Range,
see also: Hitler Didi) in order to fully realise the impact of debilitating
Trunchbull-dyke Asylum warder in the tradition of Vinegar Tits from Prisoner:
Cell Block H. You.Go.Grrrrrrrrrl.
In an age where working women are
considered "cool", Zee TV breaks this cliche by bringing to the
forefront the humble housewife and her selfless attitude towards her loved
Length30 minsEntertainment, Drama
Yes, you read that right. Note the spitting
contempt of those quotation marks and steel yourself for 30 minutes of
surrendered wife dogshit as a newlywed top investigative journalist decides to
find true happiness by masochistically proffering to spend ALL FUCKING DAY
lingering round the kitchen trying to source cooking gas in some self defeating
pass-agg attempt to rebel against her money-grubbing Saas (Mother in Law) who’d
prefer son’s wifey to work as it could bring them money or some shit for her
repulsive poundshop Dabanng* *(Gene Hunt with a Movember) shit of a bent cop
husband - which may or may not be an
attempt to connect with a (blatantly depressive) pet Bahu (daughter in law) who
spends all day silently doing chores. Key message: working women are LAZY
FAILURES who SPOIL their UPPITY DAUGHTERS.
More cloying Mother-love than outright vicious. Recent attempts to
up her game have included issuing some arbitrary fatwa preventing her
son from entering conjugal relations with goody two-shoes
investigative bahu and banishing her to her grandparents house, to
assuage the indelible hurt caused because they were CAUGHT HOLDING
HANDS in the FAMILY HOUSE (not even fucking or anything). This
also seems to be a recurring theme in Indian soap. I mean DUH, like
the only reason they fret about getting their fuckwit male spawn
married off is so they can churn out more spawn in turn, what are
they supposed to do?
Sky EPG: An adaptation of the classic novel "Subarnalata" by Ashapurna Devi. This serial is about the journey of a girl who is married at the tender age of 9 years. In Bengali.
Harridan: Muktokeshi (Sabitri Chatterjee)
Fuck. FUCK. Oh My GOD. At this point, Hunt-Sharples becomes Logarithmic. First, this makes justifiable claims to being a *mega-serial* rather than a standard soap, as it is attempting to stay true to the original source material of the novel it was based on and is a period drama.
Oh my. Where to begin… I watch a lot of soaps. I used to watch Santa Barbara for crissakes. And Sons and Daughters. I KNOW what a finely turned-out harridan looks like. The growling voice, the Medusa stare. But I am struggling to find a character anywhere else in UK/US/Australian /Indian soap who comes anywhere near close to the vindictive, self-pitying, spiteful, childish, maudlin, vile, violent, lazy, abusive, insanely dogmatic, wilfully stupid, wilfully neglectful, neurotic, narcissistic, foul-mouthed, callous Weapons-Grade Cunt portrayed here as the mother-in-law to unfathomably reasonable child-bride Subarnalata in early 20th C. Calcutta.
Take the Mother from Precious then multiply it by a thousand - you're still nowhere near it. Sabitri Chatterjee was a romantic heroine in the 50’s. She must have borne a passing resemblance to Suzanne Pleshette. In this her face curdles all dairy products in a 5 mile radius. The USP of this drama is its intricate depiction of the Tiny. Petty. Myriad. Ways in which it is possible to cause offence to someone determined to find fault with the uppity new bahu- ostracised for the dangerous ability to read and write (and these aren’t rural no-marks, the men in this family are middle class, upper caste professionals).
Like, for example, when your dim-witted sister-in-law is about to die in childbirth, and your other brother-in-law is in the room down the hall with his LAWYER SCUM mates pissing away the last of the household’s food on ANOTHER gambling session (and on viewing, I just remembered this - are enraged that they are not being served tea as promptly as a household of *status* would demand), and whilst the little wimmin are fretting away at the impending tragedy, through the walls you can hear the garrulous laughs of aforementioned LAWYER SCAB SCUM oblivious.
a) Storm into the gambling session, tell Lawyer scum to fuck off and demand your snide brother-in-law to fetch some sort of actual like *help* or go too
B) run amok with a kitchen knife. No jury would convict.
c) anxiously fret over what to do, but eventually appear in the room and make some veiled allusion which might perhaps be interpreted as a suggestion that there might be other events taking place which may disrupt their enjoyment
d) none of the above
I reckon most would pick a). Most right thinking British Soap women would b). Subarnalata picks c).
She is then subsequently admonished by the remainder of the household for not doing d) in another ‘tough love’ style family confrontation, not least because as A Married she entered a room with MEN in it thus marking herself out as a Harlot and Hooeer and has SHAMED the faaaaaamily.
It is this relentless detailing of the Myriad. Intricate. Every DAY tyrannies of her imprisonment (never has the term ‘housewife’ been more adeptly illustrated - once that front doorway is sealed, one is literally housebound) that made this so hideously compelling. And it illustrates the slow painful process of attempting to challenge bigotry and entrenched neuroses tarted up as custom that makes the progress of society possible on a personal level. It is therefore deeply political. Ashapurna Devi’s account means that even if you are a housewife who never heard of Orwell or Doesn’t Do That Political Stuff or can’t even read, approximately 10 minutes watching this and you know what Fascism looks like.
I was having difficulty placing the actual time period the events in this were occurring in. All that can be certain is its pre-Independence India. There is no electricity. There is no radio let alone TV. The household even forbids newspapers. There is the terrible sense that this could actually be set in the present or even the future, so strong is the force-field of orthodoxy permeating everything.
Hunt-Sharples rating: At this point, Hunt-Sharples becomes logarithmic. 50 Mega-Blanches.
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