By Nidhi Kinhal
A former news features editor at Bangalore Mirror, photographer, artist and traveller, Sudha Pillai’s most recent project is Ladies Saloon 007, on Instagram. Soon after it took off, she found herself spending her evenings watching Malayalam serials with her mother. “When we hear the crazy, regressive things [in the dialogues], my mother and I pass comments. Those two hours are like our private stand up comedy show. Sometimes, we laugh, and sometimes, we get really angry,” she says. That’s when she decided to share the joy – making art out of their shared shock and hilarity. Pillai’s new series ‘What I learn about relationships from Malayalam TV serials’ is created with black line drawing, lots of wit, and a dash of red colour.
“Every illustration is a culmination of various scenes and dialogues that I watched,” she says. A wife’s love (that can get rid of the husband’s ear wax), death threats for lolz, and the heroism of a dude who married a dark-skinned girl— her drawings point out how absurd Indian television is. Although her illustrations depict Malayalam serials, these stereotypes are an Akhand Bharat phenomenon, embraced lovingly by multiple TV industries. If you watch Telugu, Tamil, Hindi or Bengali ones, you’ll find them just as familiar.
“I’ve heard people refer to certain serials, and how certain characters behave, when they’re trying to deal with real life situations,” she says. That raises the stakes for Pillai. “I believe that if satire doesn’t play a big role in your life, you end up really angry 24 x 7 because of the things that are happening around us currently.” Pillai’s own series is wonderfully cathartic.
Check out the full series on Instagram here.