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Following at the heels of Laxmii, that cringe-inducing misrepresentation of transgender people, the new web series Pati Patni Aur Panga is yet another problematic portrayal of trans persons. In this web series, Adah Sharma, a cis actress plays a transwoman. All over the world, despite trans persons and gender rights activists stressing on the importance of trans representation, why filmmakers keep turning a blind eye to this is anyone's guess.
Sloppy research - calling it sloppy is overestimating it - combined with misrepresentation makes it the polar opposite of a trans-positive series. This isn't what support or allyship looks like, this is a projection of cis ideas and stereotypes, for a mainly cis audience. ALSO READ: Elliot Page Comes Out As Trans - What You Should Know About Supporting Trans Persons Who Have Just Come Out
Pati Patni Aur Panga claims to be speaking up for trans rights. Yet, one of the first sentences the male lead goes on to make a mockery of his transwoman wife with is, "Meri patni shaadi se pehle ladka thi" (My wife was a man before we got married). He says it to a divorce lawyer, whose response to the protagonist is asking why he hadn't had sex before marriage with his wife.
This is just the beginning. The rest of Pati Patni Aur Panga is full of insinuations that Shivani, who Adah Sharma plays, had not been upfront and had defrauded the husband into a marriage.
In the courtroom scene, there seems to be a lot of focus on gender assigned at birth rather than on how Adah's character identifies. There is misogyny, too - the pati's friend berates him for marrying a woman without knowing her background, because what if she turns out to be a chudail (witch)? As if to emphasise, the scene immediately cuts to a horror movie portrayal of Shivani.
Further, Shivani claims, "Sex change operation karwa ke ladka se ladki ban gayi hun (sic)." For the millionth time, gender is not based on anatomy or gender affirmation surgery! Gender is what a person identifies as. And not all trans persons opt for surgery. ALSO READ: Study Reveals Transgender Women Can Become Fertile
One scene, in a pathetic attempt at eliciting laughs, shows Shivani peeing standing up on the roadside, while the husband looks on, bewildered. When you're making a film or series on trans issues, even a minimal amount of research would have shown you how difficult it is for trans persons to find appropriate public toilets where they are not looked at with hostility, which they can access without the fear of being assaulted! For the fear of sexual assault, ridicule, and sometimes dysphoria, it is never easy for a trans person to simply take a leak on the roadside in full public view. It is triggering and watching this on screen must have triggered many people, too. ALSO READ: Gender Dysphoria And Mental Health: Know More About The Symptoms And Treatments
It's 2020, folks. It's about time we started calling out so-called "artistic freedom", which stereotypes, demeans and propagates all manners of misinformation about marginalised people. It should not even be called artistic freedom, it's just propaganda of sorts.
Like we said, this isn't what support or allyship looks like, this is a projection of cis ideas and stereotypes, for a mainly cis audience. There is already petition doing rounds to stop the airing of this problematic show - which is scheduled to air on 11th December on MX Player. Click here to view the petition.