Friday, 3 March 2017

Man’s world: Rational and empathetic approach to understand Patriarchy and Power

I have been watching number of web series recently, owing to my disinterest in the  television- for the obvious reasons like same content, same story line, same love stories with unwarranted and expected twists and turns, the kitchen and power dynamics, portrayal of women in the most retrograde manner! Even if some writer attempts a different concept or progressive script, it falls into the same trap of saas-bahu drama. Anyways coming back to the web series, I happen to watch Man’s world, original Y-film series written and directed by Vikram Gupta.
I was really offended when I saw the first episode, it had everything that would annoy a girl like me- the lead character of the series is Kiran, a marketing professional who enjoys all the luxuries of the gender he belongs to and still believes that women plays a victim card under the label of “weaker sex”.

I was impressed how gender biases was clearly depicted in the spaces like home, public spaces like bus stop, inside the bus, in the work place. One of the most interesting conversations was between Kiran and his female colleague, where he says, “Mothers have such difficult jobs. How many mothers have died feeding their children and putting clothes over them! Then you say society doesn’t appreciate this. You have heard about Mother India? But did you see Father India? No, you know why because such film is not even made. Sab log maa ki mamta jaante hai baap ki baapta ke bare mein kya?” Sadly, he compares marital rape to taking out money from his own wallet and getting jailed for it. 

Clearly his actions and words makes him a big male chauvinist, who doesn’t respect women, clearly dismisses the work that women engage in and for him stalking is as simple as looking at someone! And in this ignorance he wishes that power dynamics shifts and the roles are reversed. Interestingly, his wish is granted and next day everything changes- he gets lot of messages from a girl, he find himself inside the kitchen cooking breakfast for his mother and sister, his mother threatening to restrict him to household, the hoardings, crowd in public spaces and even the conversations in his work space, he talks about gender quality from man’s point of view!

After an amazing beginning from the first episode, the second one is even more interesting and would come as a shocker to people who believe there exists no gender biases at work place. Whether it is about work distribution, promotions, salary hike, clothes that you wear or judging people on the basis of gender, and conversations at workplace being highly gendered is shown with so much ease, they appear effortless and bring out the pain in the most realistic manner.

The third episode is very intimidating as it tries to speak about Gender based violence in form of violating the consent, molestation and attempt to rape. The same guy Kiran now lives in women dominated society where men are judged, subjected to violence and at the same time are accused to the violence faced by them, while earlier he used to spend time with his friends drinking and enjoying in the bar, the same thing becomes an adventure to him for which he needs to seek permission. He is stalked and molested and when he tries to complain in the police station, he is subjected to more humiliation. He follows an advice from the stranger girl who rescues her and ask god to reverse his wish! Unfortunately nothing changes.

The fourth and the finale episode of Man’s world get more intense, because a girl drops Kiran at home, his mother comes to know about it from some neighbor she decides that before it gets late Kiran should get married. This starts the new circle of girls coming in to see Kiran, where he is rejected over trivial reasons like his color, his education, he not looking homely to heavy dowry. And finally he is married to a Doctor with a dowry of about 1 crore. On his first night, he wanted things to go slow where as his husband celebrating her new priced possession forces herself on him. Leaving his well earning job, he is restricted to household chores, throughout the day he just takes care of home and his wife. He gives birth to a baby boy, none of his in-laws including his wife is not happy with it.

The climax of the last episode is what wins my heart and I couldn’t control my tears. His conversation with his baby boy where he urges him not to follow or believe in the gender roles rather follow his brains- there is nothing like men or women roles, he wants to make this place a better world to live in where people are not judged or discriminated on the basis of their gender. The important piece of advice is to begin this with oneself :-) The last scene sums up the change that I aspire to see in the world- a world without gender discrimination. 

There are lot of amazing things in the Man’s world- there is no lecturing on gender issues, story is weaved by placing Men into the Women’s shoes- an empathetic approach is used, no going round the issue., keeping the point upfront, covering all aspects of women’s life be it her home, work space, public spaces or marriage in the most sensitive manner! The content, portrayal, even the small things are taken care of be it conversations, or girls night out or sending out texts too. The social construct is so deeply embedded in me as while I was writing this blog, I end up writing her/she instead of he/him- it was unbelievable and I was constantly feeling challenged.

I feel happy, inspired and encouraged with this kind of media who believes in bringing the Gender issues out there in front of us, showing our attitudes, beliefs and mindset naked and then facilitate us to challenge the same. There are few things which I don’t agree to in the ‘Man’s world’, but I don’t want to take away the honest effort invested in making the web series.

Kudos to this kind of cinematic magnificence :-)

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