there are some things we never talk about. perhaps they threaten our sense of security, perhaps they challenge our limits of defining the world, perhaps they disturb us fundamentally, so we look away.

right now in a television soap, an interesting – and i feel, courageous – story is on, which makes us stare point blank at one such thing. the third gender as the law calls it, hijras as we have called them for as long as i can remember. and here this issue is no sub plot or track introduced to notch up trp for the moment… here the protagonist is a hijra, a eunuch.

shakti – astitva ke ehsaas ki on colors tv revealed in august that soumya, the female lead, is in fact a transgender. this, right in the middle of romance beginning to take root between harman, the male lead, and soumya.

like most shows on this channel, shakti – astitva ke ehsaas ki (power – of feeling one’s existence… a loose translation) too is a melodramatic venture with loud characters and extremely noisy story telling. the tale itself is neither novel nor compelling as such. soumya and surbhi are two sisters who love each other a lot. soumya is inordinately shy and innocent, her mother is overprotective and shelters her fiercely; as a result, soumya has no real knowledge of the outside world. while her mother has an absolute and overwhelming love for her, her father, a crass man, despises her. surbhi is a spirited young woman and her father dotes on her.

in the middle of this, harman lands up in their lives. he is from a fairly wealthy family and a bit on the wild side. his mother preeto is a complicated woman all set to be scary saas. of course, she is wily and wilful and the exact opposite of the good kind gentle nimmi, soumya’s mother.

highly soap-like things happen to bring about a marriage between soumya and harman. her mother is terrified at what might happen now, you wonder about the secret she is trying to hide. then it all comes out one dark and stormy night since no cliche must be left untouched by a rollicking, committed to its genre hindi soap… that too on colors.

i never expected to see anything but a lot of ear splitting melodrama post the revelation, we even had a tattooed, witchy looking eunuch stalking nimmi and soumya and giving you the creeps. then we had the completely raving preeto making sure soumya is taken by the eunuchs to their place, far away from harman. what made me want to see where it all went was perhaps rubina dilaik’s portrayal of the gentle lost soumya. totally shattered by the revelation, then slowly trying to take stock of things.

and yes, i was absolutely intrigued. how would a soap deal with such a scenario. your lead is a eunuch. your viewers are saying that is impossible to believe, since soumya couldn’t have reached this age without knowing anything. your trp can take a complete nosedive if you don’t handle things well.

hindi serials have leads turning into snakes and banshees/atmas often these days. that is clearly not something one can even remotely believe, so they play at another level within us i suppose. but here, she is a eunuch. yet because you met her when you thought she was a girl, you have built a relationship with her, and rubina has done a rather nice job of conveying that untouched innocence of this person. to you, soumya is a human being first. as she is to harman. it was very interesting to see how harman reacts to the unexpected turn of events. he screams and shouts but somehow can’t turn away from soumya.

right now soumya is living with a group of eunuchs and getting to know their world even as she tries her best to return home to her mother and harman. a couple of the key roles are played by women but i get the feeling some of the characters are portrayed by eunuchs. true, this is a soap version of the lives of the third gender, yet there is something appealing, almost real about the way it’s being shown. there is a sensitivity here, the writer seems to care. and the acting, while tinged with soap requirements, is often touching.

the show introduces into the conversation a much nicer sounding word to describe people who are neither male nor female, who may be transgender… kinnar. and here while the kinnars are overdressed and there’s that slightly unsettling “maleness” to their mannerisms and voice exactly as we are used to seeing in the hijras we encounter once i a way, there’s also an empathy, an attempt to look in and actually see the person. every now and then i get a sense that both writer and actor went a little deeper, tried to find beyond the obvious.

i must say, this is surprising and i never expected to find it here.

both vivien dsena as harman singh and roshni sahota as surbhi are good. unfortunately, the shrieky tone of the serial makes it hard to watch it every day, but i must give credit to rashmi sharma, the producer and creator of the show, for raising the issue of eunuchs within our society, where they exist in a strange space and we try our best not to concern ourselves with their lives and problems.

being a serial, they will possibly suddenly do another maha-twist as it’s called and reveal soumya is actually not a eunuch. or maybe they won’t. anyway, there’s a tenderness to the love soumya feels for harman and he for soumya that is perhaps beginning to take a step beyond gender. something moving in that.


indrani’s index

visual credit uploader/colors tv


like to read another writerbrew review? here’s kuch rang pyaar ke has lost its colour.