In the spirit of Darwin, I know it is wrong to expect anything intelligent from the offspring of a generation numbed by years of being subjected to the onslaught of melodrama of brain-dead Indian soap operas. And while I kind of understand this generation's proclivity for making duck lips for the camera, I don't get its growing craze for TVF Pitchers, a web series brought out by The Viral Fever which traces the adventures of a group of Indian entrepreneurs.
If it can't be banned for its obvious derision of Indian ethos and cultural values, it should at least be censored appropriately. After all, the web series openly talks about premarital sex, live-in relationships, shows a bahu arguing with her father-in-law and depicts swearing and violence as norms among youngsters.
"[W]ithout clichés and worn-out tropes, how is the audience supposed to identify and relate to events and dialogues in the show?"
Here are three reasons why I regret watching TVF Pitchers, which, by the way, for some strange, inexplicable reason has climbed to the spot of number 24 (at last count) in the list of Top 250 TV titles on IMDB.
Entertaining and intelligent, a combination that should be discouraged
In favour of the trend of Rs 100-200 crore clubs, we should discourage content that is entertaining without being regressive, brainless or at least "filmy". Entertainment is supposed to be brainless. Its very nature is escapist. What is TVF Pitchers trying to do by showing us our own realities in a more holistic and humour-filled way and then dare to satirise it too?
To add to it, there are no big names or veterans of the industry associated with the series. And yet it has managed to garner so much attention on the basis of intelligent and succinct content, brilliant acting and justifiable situations. This is symptomatic of dangerous times that lie ahead both for the industry and the audience. In fact without clichés and worn-out tropes, how is the audience supposed to identify and relate to events and dialogues in the show? It is too much to ask of the audience!
Democracy, hah! What democracy?
Arunabh Kumar, the founder of TVF Media Labs, proudly said in an interview, "Online is where creative democracy comes into play." But where is the democracy when a handful of engineers (some with MBAs too) decide what others should watch? TVF Pitchers is a show by engineers, about engineers and for engineers and in the name of democracy we should refrain from promoting it even if the content is one of the most original and genuinely entertaining pieces ever produced on any channel in India.
Since when did a group of youngsters talking about their entrepreneurial ambitions become a discussion-worthy subject? It's like wasting our energy on logic-defying bans when we should instead be digging deep into the high-profile murder case that's dominating prime time.
What if India is witnessing a start-up boom and it seems that finally you can confess your entrepreneurial dreams without being sneered at? I want you to ask yourselves whether this is a career option which can guarantee mouth-watering amounts in dowry. If the answer is no, as it should be, what use is it? After all, "risk taking" and "thinking differently" were fancy catchphrases we concocted to entertain ourselves and motivate our children to push them into high net worth, stable jobs.
Also, the show focuses on a very select section of the audience. Yes there is a tyrannical father and a cynical and sadistic boss, but these are typical to only our generation. Our fathers never had them. None of them ever thought of investing in their own ventures. Yes, tech-based start-ups are in fashion today but even if the dream to have a business of one's own is not a very new concept, our fathers can never relate to such shows.
And let me ask, what is there for our beloved moms? Shouldn't they be left in peace with their ultra-dramatic television soaps, unaware about the lifestyle of their young children? The generation gap is reinforced by what is consumed by them, but we have better things to talk about in the name of democracy than to dwell on such trivia.
Insult to our muscle-guarded brand of Indian tradition
Anyone who has managed to survive even half an hour of Indian television soaps would know how a mother-in-law guards her son from the evil influence of the argumentative daughter-in-law to uphold age-old family values. In TVF Pitchers, not only there is no mother-in-law, but a bahu who first argues with her unaccommodating father-in-law and then forces him to leave the house and also the series.
"The web series dares to create space for a financially independent and successful woman who does not shy away from hinting that she has a premarital physical relationship with her boyfriend."
There you see our wonderful, patriarchal Indian tradition going down the gutters and replaced by a stupid, useless and, oh horror, Western concept of plurality of voice and discussion within the family.
And if this was not enough, she inflicts the biggest blow on the masculinity of her poor husband (Jitu) by going out and taking up a job.
But the onslaught of such degrading and derogatory representations of our brand of Indian values and culture does not end here. The web series dares to create space for a financially independent and successful woman (who plays the girlfriend of the main lead) who does not shy away from hinting that she has a premarital physical relationship with her boyfriend.
In fact, in one department store sequence she tries to lure her boyfriend by making rather obscene gestures towards her own body parts, including her brain. Now what kind of an Indian unmarried girl would ever do that? It is also clear that she will never make a good family woman because she prioritises her career over her boyfriend's.
Even if the deft handling of these characters in the series is among those few instances in contemporary times when a woman is portrayed as strong, dependable and reasonable in a way that doesn't trivialise or idealise her, it is against our static notion of how a woman should be.