In the beginning of the first episode of Bindass’ new TV show The Trip, Anjali (Swetha Tripathi) sits her friends Sanjana (Sapna Pabbi) and Nazia (Mallika Dua) down to tell them that she’s engaged.
She tells them the story about this guy — “I just lose the plot when I’m with him,” she says — who proposed to her the second time they met. Strangely, Sanjana squeals excitedly, but Nazia is only staring at her in disbelief and horror. “Please just be happy for me,” Anjali tells Nazia, and this is the end of any kind of conversation on the matter. So Nazia only calls their friend Shonali (Lisa Haydon) who lives in Sydney, to tell her about these developments. Soon after, we see them rush into preparations for Anjali’s bachelorette road trip, no further questions asked about this dude.
The first time I watched this episode, the scene reminded me of two of my closest friends. The three of us would often sit in a coffee shop after college drinking the same three coffees and French fries that we’ve been ordering from the first time we came here. But sometimes one of us would say something — about a teacher, about a boy, a classmate, something we had read or watched, and each of us would have completely different opinions on the matter — opinions we fought about until there was really nowhere else for the argument to go. I presume that if one of us had got engaged after two dates with a boy, the other two would react with Nazia’s shock and horror. And it would last.
Conversations about The Trip began much before it released. We even wondered where Lisa Haydon’s Instagram photos of her own wedding ended and those from the show began. There have also been many recent TV shows about road trips (there’s TVF Tripling) and quite a few shows about women friends and women in the city (Queens Hain Hum, Ladies Room, New Girl in the City, and author Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan is going to be writing an Amazon Prime show about four women tentatively called 4 More Shots Please). The Trip put both of these new kinds of shows together.
I was curious about it because I kept getting flashbacks of Imran throwing out Kabir’s phone from their car window in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and remembering how since we were 14, my friends and I would talk about going on a trip. It didn’t have to be a road trip and we never knew where we wanted to go, but it did have to be only girls. We’ve never done this, but now there is a show about it, and I wondered if its female friendships would be like mine, and most certainly different from the men in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
But let’s get it out of the way. Our friendships aren’t the same.
The Trip manages to establish some familiarity between the women, and they do look like they have been friends forever, but the more times you watch the episode, the more annoying their conversations get. There is no sense of how much like a whirlwind some friendships can be; there are no personal jokes that nobody else will understand; no conversations about work or the things they’ve been doing, or about that one random thing they saw when they were walking down the road that they just have to discuss. Instead, they really just seem to talk about three things: yoga and losing weight, wondering if Anjali is pregnant (and hence also talking about losing weight), and about an unimaginative game called Chits and Giggles that they made up in boarding school (where they draw chits every time they can’t make a decision).
Is there really nothing else their conversations could be about? Sanjana is a yoga instructor (there are really only two short moments in the episode when she isn’t doing yoga), whose idea of a bachelorette party is a yoga retreat, and who keeps saying that Anjali wanted to lose weight. When Shonali calls Anjali up, she calls her chubby — “Though I’ve heard you’re not so chubby anymore,” she says, to which Anjali happily replies that she can actually fit into the clothes she designs for other people. In another scene Nazia thinks Anjali is pregnant and freaks out, telling her that she will beat the man up for her.
But this is really all. There isn’t even an indication of the kind of tension between Imran and Kabir in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, where there are many sweeping conversations are about “living life”, and work, about marriage and family, and poetry. The Trip is also, for instance, unlike Queens Hain Hum, which in its first episode itself shows the five women talking about their work and the awards they want to win, their families, their sex lives, and being a working woman in a family where the husband stays home.
Instead, we are shown a flashback to Shonali having a realisation about her life because a man (who becomes her boyfriend) she has just met in the bar she works at has told her she should “be brave, I beg you, be brave,” and quit her job as a bar tender to follow her dream of becoming a musician. Throughout this conversation she makes such annoying gooey eyes at this man — this expression should really only be reserved for puppies — and she makes me roll my eyes twenty times. Perhaps I’m being too picky, but I can’t help but wonder if she could have just had this conversation with Nazia or Anjali, rather than talking about their weight and yoga?
This first episode is just too boring for a show about women going on a road trip. Their only emotions are gushing excitement or sarcasm (always directed towards Sanjana), and there is no concrete sense that we get of them as individuals with different lives. It doesn’t make sense that these are the kinds of casual conversation that they think must happen to establish the familiarity and friendship between women. Once the women actually take off on their trip from Delhi to Bangkok, perhaps things will get better.
Co-published with Firstpost.