By Apoorva Sripathi
Actor Priya Wal has a funny web series called ‘Misadventures of a Television Actor’. The latest episode Main Lead opens with a disclaimer — “Any resemblance to a person or incident is not coincidental. Please be offended!” I was ready to be.
It begins with a woman on her bed watching a TV programme, which she pauses to take a phone call.
“Ek show banaa rahe hain. Isiliye aapko audition karna hain.”
The girl, Priya, then asks the casting agent (one can assume) about the character she will portray. The guy on the other end of the line is flummoxed. “Character kya hain,” she insists. Indignant, he replies, “main lead hai,” and that he mentioned it at the start. But Priya isn’t satisfied, let alone convinced, so she prods him a bit on what she is actually doing on the show — is she going to college or perhaps, selling vegetables? Something, at least?
The man finally understands and tells Priya that she starts out as a “loose” woman who gradually reforms into a “good girl”. How, Priya asks. As a loose woman, she wears a lot of ganji (tank tops), and when she turns into a good girl, she starts sporting salwar kameez. Priya, who appears stumped, recovers quickly and asks him if this actually a “character description”? To which the guy replies, “haan, woh main lead hai!” She then angrily cuts the call and resumes watching TV and the sketch ends.
At 1.16 minutes the sketch is brilliant in capturing what women actors have to go through — rampant sexism and misplaced notions of how a good and bad girl looks like.
And haven’t we all been been told by random men and women that our clothes are “too slutty” or “too behenji”? Main Lead is all of us.