Review: YRF's Man's World and Its Honest Attempt at Opening the Forum for Gender Debates
When it comes to questioning the inherently hierarchical roles men and women are assigned, Y-Films ' Man's World raises the right questions. But soon after the brilliant first few minutes of confusion that is the overturned parallel universe, it fizzles out into a space that soon enters a domain one might term preachy. Yet, it still manages to subtly put the message across to those who are ready to listen.
The opening shot of Man's World shows a young man who's disoriented and in pain. Here is our protagonist, Kiran—a former misogynist male who turns the world around by switching gender roles and, essentially, making the world, as we know it, a world run by women.
The trailer of Man's World looked promising and assured us it would be a 'fresh' take on gender dynamics. "We don't need feminism you say, well we'll soon make you think otherwise," promised the central plot of the series, and we all jumped with joy at the thought of a mainstream Indian media giant taking a stand on gender issues like they actually care.
The series' protagonist is a typical male chauvinist cut straight out of the pits of hell we call the real world. The kind of man that most refer to as the average Indian male is portrayed by the ever mansplaining and self-proclaimed oppressed victim, Kiran. What's worse? Not only does he feel the world is unfair to men, he also upholds this firm belief as he wakes up and shrieks at his sister for a cup of bed tea, while he dawdles around under his sheets, writing patronising text-messages to his supposed love interest. This, and a series of sexist tropes follow, until we cut to the show's present-day, where everything with respect to gender takes a 180° turn.
We now enter a parallel universe where, essentially, nothing has changed. It is the same old sexist world with the absence of one set of sexes from public spaces and a world rife with stereotypes. The only difference being the gender-switch. The world is still plagued with PMS, unsolicited stares, objectification, infant bias, and so on, but now the gaze has shifted.
In terms of sheer perspective, Man's World makes a bold statement, and gives unsuspecting watchers a taste of their own misogynistic medicine like no other Indian show has done before. Although Gaurav Pandey had the potential to do a stellar job as protagonist, his performance falls flat towards the end. But the saving grace of the show is the rest of the star-studded cast, peppered with some token Bollywood appearances all through the series.
The first half of the four-part series is a well-paced narrative of 'what ifs' strung together in the symbolic "war between chest and breast," but the second half lags behind trying hard to keep up and retain its tropes. And although the series fluctuates in terms of pace and message, the overall tone remains light hearted, with a hint of dark and. soon enough, a pinch of preachy.
Having said that, this show, created as part of UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development , has opened dialogue around social media and internet forums, and has got people talking. But one cannot dismiss the fact, that although the premise is new and creatively distinct, the plot relies around drilling the same old exaggerated cliches about man vs. woman, and their stereotypical lives. Only now, it has all been reversed, and has ended in a tame rut, that gave us nothing phenomenal to take home as the final lasting frame, and fell flat like a glass of cola that was out for too long.
If we were to score the show, we'd give it a 3 - 1.5 for the performances, and 1.5 for the fact that YRF pulled off something as offbeat as this. Simply goes to show that women's rights have begun penetrating mainstream media, and attempts are being made to sensitise the internet-friendly masses towards feminism. We're happy this change is slowly yet steadily occurring, and occurring well.
Watch the much talked-about series if you still haven't. And tell us what you think in the comments below.