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7 Reasons Why Sumukhi Suresh’s Pushpavalli Is the Best Dark Comedy Show Right Now

If you’ve had a hard year so far and would really like to destress and forget your woes for a while, you need to watch Sumukhi Suresh’s latest web series Pushpavalli. Created by the amazing Sumukhi in collaboration with standup comics like Naveen Richard, Urooj Ashfaq, Sumaira Sheikh, and Shraddha, the show follows the journey of Pushpavalli (Sumukhi) who’s a manipulative person, a compulsive liar, and a stalker. The show’s a dark comedy that will first make you laugh your heart out and then horrify you. If these aren’t reasons enough, here are some more reasons why you should binge-watch Pushpavalli.

It shows how fat-shaming adversely affects fat women.

Pushpavalli’s mother constantly shames her for being fat and tells her that any man is better than her. Guys don’t even consider her as a potential date because she isn’t conventionally beautiful. So, when Nikhil (Manish Anand), a traditionally handsome and smart guy, showers her with attention and enjoys her company, she thinks he’s giving her special attention. And as a fat woman myself, I can vouch for this feeling. Every time a man has been nice to me, I’ve always thought of it as special behaviour because I’m used to men either looking at me in disgust or subtly bodyshaming me. The show does a good job of portraying what length a person can go to in order to be with that one person who treats them as a human being and a not a bag of fat.

Bollywood can learn how to show stalking, without normalising it, from Pushpavalli.

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In the series, Pushpavalli is an endearing character whose antics will make you laugh as well as empathise with her. But, when she’s stalking Nikhil, you know that she’s doing the wrong thing because the guilt is visible in her mannerisms, her body language, and her unsaid words. Also, her friend and employer, Pankaj (Naveen Richard), constantly calls out stalking and is visibly horrified at the seriousness of the crime. At no point does the show normalise or romanticise stalking, unlike most Bollywood films.

The show introduces Bengaluru and Kannada culture to the audience.

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As far as Indian mainstream content goes, we’ve always been shown Punjabi, Brahmin, or Bengali families. A south Indian character, on the other hand, is always stereotyped and used as comic relief. But, that’s not the case with Pushpavalli. The show is based in Bengaluru, a beautiful city that’s yet to be fully explored by Bollywood. Also, it brings Kannada culture to the forefront by incorporating Vasu (Shraddha), a hilarious PG owner who’s always speaking in broken English and Kannada. Having stayed in Bengaluru for a large part of my life, I’m very happy to see the city get representation in a web series.

It shows south Indians as normal people and not cartoons.

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Pushpavalli is that rare, refreshing breather from mainstream Hindi media that portrays south Indians like caricatures. Since Suresh is a south Indian herself, she has been able to show exactly how south Indians are – just like everyone else in India. The conversations between Pushpavalli and her mother, half of which are in Tamil, are a joy to watch, because it's a real, normal mother-daughter relationship. What's more, the people of Bangalore are given ample screen time, once again showing the audience that one, there are five different south Indian states that are all unique, and two, Kannadigas and Bangaloreans are not cartoon characters, but just as crazy as the rest of us.

Two words: Naveen. Richard. 

Although all the characters in the series are brilliant in their own right, there needs to be a special mention for comedian Naveen Richard. Richard's portrayal of Pankaj, an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed children's librarian, who is always looking for a good cream bun to sink his teeth into, is genius. As Richard has lived in Bengaluru, he could perfectly channel that into his wacky character. Pankaj is abrasive, stupid, awkward, and hilarious – and he will make you fall in love with him by the end of episode 1. 

It got millennial love just right.

The series perfectly captures what millennial love is – awkward, funny, complicated, and painful. There are blurred lines everywhere, which Pushpavalli treads to the best of her ability. Her obsession with Nikhil is something that every Indian millennial has experienced – maybe not the stalking but the preoccupation is very relatable. Even the way Nikhil treats Pushpavalli is reminiscent of the annoying fuckboy we all meet at least once in our lives. It also shows us one important aspect – the fact that we are trying to deal with the complex mess that are relationships, and we don't have all the answers – because there are no correct answers. 

The characters make the story.

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The characters make this series a great story. From Vasu, the devious landlady, to Swati, the annoying, rich girl – everyone has a well-developed story arc. Even Pushpavalli, who is essentially a grey character, is well fleshed out. The audience never empathise too much with the stalking, because the character is self aware, and acknowledges that her behaviour is problematic. They are very real, and not at all dramatised – which make them relatable even when they are up to crazy shenanigans. 

We're definitely watching it. What about you?

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