What should we make of the trailer for SAB TV’s Trideviyaan?
You can be fed up, of course, with the annoying pursuit of realism on prestige television. Here the female protagonists, cast in the mould of Charlie’s Angels, make literal and metaphorical leaps from bahu to spy and back. Twitter, that snarky nation, was not happy about this.
The trailer shows a woman in tight black sexy vigilante pants (Aishwarya Sakhuja) jumping off a truck and into a bunch of criminals and scattering them with sheer femme force. After a couple of well-aimed punches, one goonda pleads, “Arre bas karo! Kya mera bharta banaogi?” The word bharta is obviously’s Aishwarya’s unsafe word. She says it to herself in terror, and then reappears in the kitchen of her home, as the clock strikes dinner time. She’s accidentally in her spy clothes carrying a plate of bharta. Cue gasp, poof. She emerges from the kitchen in open hair, mangalsutra and a peach georgette saree, the world’s most unthreatening costume.
A man at the dinner table asks, “Tumne sirf baingain ka hi bharta banaya?”. She doesn’t drop kick him but smiles and responds “Nahi. Uska bhi”. The man remains clueless but the two other women at the table grin. Next, the three come together for a group bahu shot which then cuts into a shot of them in appropriate spy gear (black latex sort of stuff, of course) walking towards the camera with dramatic music in the background.
We are not ready to hate this show, Twitter-desh. We see possibilities.
Shows especially on American television about crime/espionage and women frequently involve double lives. As Julia Cook says in this essay, “It’s worth noting that TV does not generally ask men to make such frequent, frantic transitions between domestic and professional selves.” Obsessed as American television is with the Women & Not Having It All, domesticity is only a thin cover for female spies and true domesticity is a distant dream because you know they made the hard choice. Unusually in The Americans, domesticity is a dream for both the male and female protagonist. Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (secret KGB officers posing as Americans) in The Americans discuss their ‘Death to America’ agenda in utterly domestic settings (“folding laundry” is code for “solving encrypted messages in the basement of their suburban home”). In general, in TV land, women with powers (super or otherwise) must keep them secret from most people in their lives, from Samantha in Bewitched to Laura of Remington Steele to Sydney Bristow of Alias.
Closer to home, in Diya Aur Baati Hum Sandhya is pushed into a marriage but then finds support to pursue her IPS officer dream from her husband, Sooraj. The extended family does object to her career. The show ends when the pair explode after swallowing bombs, only to meet after death, united by jewellery (no, really, her mangalsutra and his chain become entangled).
In Trideviyaan, the collective bahu-ness of the protagonists seem to be a given. But from the trailer, it seems like the creators of the show (the director is shown as N/A online), in an effort to reconcile binaries, took saas bahu dramas and outfits, armed the women with forks, a rolling pin, a whisk, and “bado ke aashirvaad”, and sent them out into the world to fight crime in true Bollywood style… but only until dinner.
We’ll wait to see the show to see how they flesh out these double lives. The fact that it is comedic may redeem it. MAY. Is the joke on the bharta-demanders or on the bharta-makers? We don’t know yet.