For quite some time, Indian storytelling has moved in a progressive direction. Be it ‘Taare Zameen Par’ that helped us break the stigma towards dyslexia or ‘Vicky Donor’ that talks about sperm donation – a taboo topic on infertility and artificial insemination. In a similar effort, ‘She’ is an average attempt by Imtiaz Ali that captures a woman’s tryst with identifying her own sexuality amidst running daily chores and providing for her family.
‘She’ is an Indian television show revolving around the life of Bhumika Pardeshi (Aaditi Pohankar) who plays the role of an ordinary cop who spends most of her time doing administrative work. Busy fighting for her divorce and providing for her ailing mother and brat sister, her life takes an interesting turn when she is hired by Anti-Narcotics Group for a super-secret mission. This mission entails Bhumika going undercover as a prostitute to catch the most wanted drug lord. Desperate to bring about a change in her life, Bhumika faces her own inhibitions and steps outside her comfort zone to become an undercover sex worker. As the series goes on, one sees Bhumika metamorphosing into a confident cop mainly due to the fact that she has explored her sexuality and she knows what an asset that truly is.
Playing a shy lower-class Marathi girl, Pohankar has done a near-perfect job with her Marathi accent and submissive body language at the beginning of the show. After playing supporting roles in ‘Love Sex Aur Dhokha’ and ‘Lai Bhaari’, Pohankar does a remarkable job in carrying the entire show on her shoulders. Another memorable character is that of ‘Sasya’ (Vijay Varma) who is one of the criminals that the Anti-Narcotics Group is trying to catch. On a hot streak of playing significant roles in the last few years, Varma delivers a notable performance yet again in the series. As the series progresses, the storyline gets diluted and raises more questions than answers. With an attempt to end the series on a cliffhanger, the storyline gets convoluted in the end leaving the audience to guess the rationale behind a certain chain of events.
The series does a great job of depicting the patriarchal ways of thinking that still exist in India, with cops objectifying Bhumika as ‘not attractive’ or her colleagues questioning if women should even join the police force. The series also depicts the life and challenges of middle-class Indian women who are unaware of their own sexual desires – a topic explored by many of our industry veterans in films such as Margarita With A Straw, Fire, Masaan, Earth, etc.
All in all, ‘She’ lacks clarity with respect to its story build-up and character development but if you want to objectively look at strong acting performances (by Aaditi Pohankar, Vijay Varma, and Kishore Kumar G), you should give it a shot.