- BOTTOM LINE
- A Raw, Rustic Take on Desire
|Platform: ALTBalaji/ZEE5||Genre: Romance/Drama|
What Is the Story About?
Gandii Baat Season 4, streaming on AltBalaji and Zee5 is a bunch of five stories by the countryside exploring physical desire in its rawest form. Set amid the rustic corners of the country, where the characters are caught in a cobweb of uncanny situations, the show almost tells you that desire comes in various shapes and sizes.
There’s a story of a husband who doesn’t mind inviting another man (his wife’s ex-lover) into their relationship to please his wife. A village is full of wives who are pimps and turn their husbands into gigolos for city-bred women. There’s also folklore in a village about a man transforming into a woman if he doesn’t respect her consent during sexual intercourse.
A story also discusses the concern of a bride and her inhibition about the pain she has to endure while making love with her husband. A widowed woman, out to sell her almirah on an e-commerce platform hooks up with a married man who comes to buy the same.
Gandii Baat is more dependent on how the storyteller builds a context to desire in the story than the acting by the lead cast. Nevertheless, there are a lot of known faces, including Ashish Dixit, Garima Jain, Urmimala Sinha Roy, Aditya Singh Rajput who fit into the skin of their roles with reasonable ease. Though there’s no arresting performance you can expect within a uni-dimensional series like this, most actors do justice to their characters during the brief acts. One wished the makers also focused on the acting mettle of its reasonably good cast beyond their bodies.
A journey through a season of Gandii Baat is like revisiting the erotic fiction that Indian teenagers would have secretly read on the cusp of being an adult. Mind you, it requires great ‘skill’ to tap into a teenager’s unexplored fantasies and the series just does that in the visual form. Every second word in the show is a reference to a man’s genitals and a woman’s assets and there’s rampant objectification. The focus is all about a human’s quest to explore their sexuality and the makers are unabashed about putting their intent across. And, that is the USP of the show too. There’s no double entendre in the sex-talk, it’s blunt and as on-the-face as it can get.
Going by the quirkiness among the various stories that the show has depicted across several seasons, Gandii Baat is at its best in round four. The situations are genuinely ‘interesting’. There’s a solid story behind each of the five episodes. The ‘lovemaking’ maybe a hook to get the spectators into watching the series, but once they sit through the episodes, they’ll realise there’s more it to beyond ‘soft-porn’.
Imagine the story of a woman, who wants to be sexually attached to two men at the same time and the man saying, ‘when a husband can have two wives, why can’t it work the other way round’. The story about a vow in a village, where men get a dose of what women go through, in case the former doesn’t respect the latter’s consent during sex, is also weirdly empowering (Telugu film lovers may be reminded of E V V Satyanarayana’s Jamba Lakidi Pamba). The shock value of the episode where wives trade their husbands as escorts to the tourists who enter the village is immense.
The premise about a streetside standup comedian, who utilises his sexual adventures beyond marriage to come up with content for his shows, is one-of-a-kind. There’s a lovely delicious twist to the episode when the man realises the dark side to a woman whom he’s having an affair with. There’s a progressive angle in the story where a woman chides her mother about not educating her about sex before marriage and turns a sexual education-teacher for teenagers later. Sexual liberation continues to remain a taboo topic in Indian homes even today and the show is a ‘middle finger’ of sorts to the conservatism that’s prevalent in a conventional society.
That doesn’t mean the show is without its problems. The show’s visual gaze is extremely problematic – the camera feeds into the fantasies of a viewer, zooming into a woman’s body parts, not viewing them beyond a pound of flesh. The show-makers talk about a woman’s sexual freedom being an indicator of a progressive society and celebrate these voyeuristic glares at the same time.
Gandii Baat can certainly expand its horizons (in terms of viewership) as a show, if it doesn’t overemphasise on the lovemaking sequences and instead focus on making them an organic part of the narrative (without glorifying or celebrating it). The cheap execution is largely responsible for bringing down the value of the genuinely out-of-the-box stories.
Music and Other Departments?
Although one may attribute the use of vintage songs in the episodes to the laziness of the composers, their situational placement remains a surprise. The cinematography is one among the many drawbacks of the show for its extremely manipulative portrayal of desire. Better visual aesthetics could have worked wonders for the show. Surprisingly, the writing is extremely original, though the director may not have done an interesting job in taking it to the small screen.
A progressive outlook on sexual freedom
Witty use of vintage songs across the episodes
Manipulative, perverse cinematography
The dominant focus on sex over the more interesting stories
Did I Enjoy It?
More for the interesting stories, yes
Will You Recommend It?
Only if you’re prepared to venture into an occasional soft porn territory
Gandii Baat 4 Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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