Dear Paromita Vohra,
I know you as the director of Connected Hum Tum. And I am writing this letter in response to what I saw in the first week run of your serial. I know open letters are most dreaded. They open a can of worms and put the worms out on public display. I promise, this one is going to be little different.
On 3rd of June 2013 I ran home early to watch the first episode of Connected HumTum. Though I loved the concept, I should confess that I was keener on watching the show because I have two of your participants in my facebook friends list. The first episode was so-so. It looked like Zee TV was using your programme to promote all of the other woman oriented shows. The audience does have a nose for commercial angles that programmers deploy, and they can smell it out. I was longing to see the participants and what I was treated with was some nonsensical drama by television stars in their character. Abhay was also too wasted in the first episode. It was leaning towards being too silly. And it would have been so, had you not introduced the characters and their vivid lives.
Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4 were all very nice and in sync with the concept you had in your mind. The way the unscripted stories were unfolding, made me forget that there was Abhay in the boringly scripted drama. My fondness for the show was growing. Episode after episode your participants made the show more interesting by revealing about their lives. Eavesdropping is our favorite pastime activity, and anything to peep into the lives of some interesting-yet-ordinary people is always exciting. Full credit of the same goes to you for overseeing the edit, that was done so wonderfully.
Then came the 5th episode. It was on a warm Friday night, Friday, the 07th of June 2013 to be precise. I was excited to know about the love life of Sonal Giani, one of your participants. Though personally, I am a friend of Sonal and know about her love life, I was very eager to know how you would introduce her lover. I expected some eye-popping earth-shattering music when you finally introduce Sonal's lover. For I knew that her lover (her Jaanu) is a SHE and not a HE. I should confess, I expected a lot of drama and hungama with at least 10 news articles about how queer Sonal was. Instead, I was pleasantly proven wrong. You simply introduced the female lover of Sonal without any fanfare. It was so casual and so strongly depicted that without spelling anything out, you said everything. And you conveyed the right message to the audience. The message that love is beyond gender. And it didn't matter whether a man loves a man, or a woman loves a woman, or a man loves a man and a woman, or a woman loves a man and a woman, or a transperson loves someone of any gender - whatever the permutation and combination, the word, the feeling, the emotion that stands out is LOVE.
Like sonal, I belong to the LGBTIQ spectrum too. And I was jumping on my sofa in joy when I saw that you made me a "nothing". Your show made sexuality a non issue, and made non-acceptance of love the real issue.
Sexuality is a big deal in India. Often we choose to make an "issue" out of it. In movies, it is never BY THE WAY- SHE IS GAY. It is always, SHE IS GAY… SHE IS GAY… SHE IS GAY. Even in our everyday lives, we encounter several discriminating responses. Treating us better and giving us more attention is bias too, and sometimes that kind of patronizing, is worse than queer phobia. In times like these, when ISSUE based films are a norm, your serial would elevate young minds and make them aware that the different is not queer, the fact that you treat someone differently is.
Thank you Paromita. You have written a new chapter in sensitive programming. I would be enthusiastically watching every show. And I will be generous in my appreciation, and criticism (if any). I want you to know that you have found yourself an admirer. For episode 5 especially, I love you. Please give my Puppy and Jhappi to everyone in your team.