Manolos And Sindoor


My latest obsession is Sex and the City. For the past few days I’ve been wrapped up in the love lives of Carrie, Samatha, Miranda and Charlotte, dazzled by the wardrobes and their lifestyles, amused by their incessant man-izing (!) and thoughtful over the dilemmas they face. Okay, I know I know, I’ve taken the late train, but hell I’m driving it!!! I’ve been watching the early seasons of the show back-to-back. Desperate Housewives (still on air I think) didn’t do the same thing for me. The other program I liked so much was Ally McBeal.

Do these two have something in common? ally.jpgOh, apart from the fact that they feature sucessful, rather neurotic, ‘with it’ urban women? Errrm, it’s the same life. The same story. So Ally sees dancing babies in then midst of a courtroom drama on human interest issues in New York(?) while Carrie and her friends explore and demonstrate the vagaries of Manhatten’s delights. Ummm…and I battle Mumbai’s crowds, enjoy its movies and pubs and obsess over my men. Oh and I also enjoy Sapna Bhavnani’s column where she shows us a glimpse of the mayhem within our own heads.

So why do we identify so well with these women and their lives? And why not with the protagonists (and victims) of the K-serial brigade? We turn up our noses at their over-the-top antics, their crazy plotlines and their melodrama. But of course, getting sloshed on Cosmopolitans the night before a photo-shoot, maxing a credit card on shoes and running after dancing babies is very rational.

Their fashion sense is disastrous!!! Think plate-sized rings, think snake-shaped bindis, garish sarees and pantomime make-up. We think they’re too painted up! It’s Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and let’s not forget Manolos only for us, dahling.manram.JPG

Their value systems are oh-so-archaic and warped!! kyonki.gifThey make it sound like the only way a woman can be strong is by being bitchy and venomous!!! Ah yes, it is very progressive to obsess over the ticking biological clock , go into depression over a good-looking man’s committment-phobia, benchmark ourselves by the bedroom standards of ‘how-many-notches-on-the-bestpost’ philosophy and live with erectile dysfunction, cheating and abuse just for the magical ‘MARRIED’ tag.

Now before I get branded a woman-hater as well (the anti-feminists are up in arms already!!!), please go back and read the first paragraph of this post. I, like most other women in this set, watch and enjoy these shows. I echo these sentiments. But I have to wonder, what makes me so different from the ‘typical Indian bahu’ who supposedly watches the K-serials with the same fervour that I devour SATC? Is my mania with lingerie and perfume that different from her obsession for jewellery and silk? Are my television idols any less insecure, confused or noble than hers are?

I’m blessed with all the insecurities of my gender and I relate to women who live these out on-screen, in lives that look like mine. And they do the same. But I’d turn my nose up at their taste and they’d probably right me off as trash (brown trash since I’m Indian?). We’re all as hypocritical and shallow as each other. Or no, that’s not fashionable. They’re cynical but I’m just jaded, dahling….pass me another cocktail.



  1. “I relate to women who live these out on-screen, in lives that look like mine”

    For me the biggest difference lies here. The themes of SATC or chiclit may be shallow, but they still are based in the sort of issues actually faced by a certain strata of women. Women who have achieved economic independence but who must live in a culture that is still mostly patriarchal. On the other hand, I see the K-serials as a rearguard action against any kind of independence for women and an attempt to keep them within the chaardiwari. Doesn’t that make them shallow in a more dangerous way? But, of course, I am preaching to the converted.

  2. Also the rising TRPs of the K-serials show that the ‘liberated’ (in thoughts, judgments and beliefs) ones in this country and society are few and are largely outnumbered by the other brigade who in their outer lives might be the riders of new technology and lifestyle but in their own dens propound regressive thoughts.
    The other way of looking at it is to watch them as some pantomime/comedy show and not get involved/ use rationale,which I haven’t been able to bring myself to, mostly because I get angry and impatient.

  3. @ AnonEcon: I still think they aren’t that different. The certain section of our population that finds itself in the situation of ’empowered men in a world of men’ is really tiny and most Indian women (even in the upper educated classes) are grappling with the problems like in-law conflict, dowry harassment, ‘traditional’ Indian values, the joint family system pressures etc.

    @ Shreyasi: I guess that’s because you and I are lucky (?) enough not to belong to the strata to which this is actual reality.

  4. @ pragni: Not sure I do, either. It’s a brand that’s fashionable to obsess over I suppose. I don’t own any, for that matter but too many episodes of SATC had me scurrying out for new shoes (not Manolos but just nice looking ones!)

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