A STILL FROM 'BHAAG BEANIE BHAAG'
When I first heard of the new Netflix show Bhaag Beanie Bhaag, I geared up to hate-watch it, just like most of Netflix India’s recent offerings. The trailer followed the protagonist Bindiya “Beanie” Bhatnagar, played by Swara Bhasker, as she went about finding her feet in the world of stand-up comedy in India, while also trying to live life on her own terms, far from the ideals of marriage and domesticity her parents held supreme.
It instantly drew comparisons with comedy-drama series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, with some calling it the Hindi version of the award-winning American show. Across six episodes, Beanie tries to follow her childhood passion for entertaining people by trying to break into the Indian stand-up scene, which is often accused of being a male-dominated domain. Many known Indian comedians make appearances on the show, including Aditi Mittal and Kaneez Surka among others. But does it paint a true picture of what it’s like to be a woman in the world of Indian stand-up? Does it deserve to be hate-watched or should we give it some credit? To find out how well it did, we got some Indian comics to react to the show. And boy, did they have some thoughts.
Jeeya Sethi, comedian and producer
“Bhaag Beanie Bhaag is a fictional show, a story about a girl who does not wanna hurry to get married and decides to choose a vocational career. It’s got very little to do with stand-up and a lot to do with how she and her family and friends deal with her new life choices. While it does show the stand-up comedy scene, it doesn’t show the reality of it. I mean, you need to hit a lot of open mics before you can actually go on tour or even get your first paid gig. (But) the show makes it seem like you can make it in stand-up in just three months. Also, the writer (Ravi Patel) is from Los Angeles and has no idea about the comedy scene in India, let alone from the point of view of the women in the scene.
I really enjoyed seeing a few known faces like Sumaira (Shaikh), Naveen (Kaushik), Sejal (Bhat), Sumit (Saurav), and Kumar Varun. My favourite scene was when Beanie’s mom (like all mothers) comes through for her by realising she should be happy because her daughter is happy.”
Deepika Mhatre, stand-up comedian
“I don’t usually watch a lot of web series, but since this one was about stand-up comedy, I thought I should give it a go. I really enjoyed the show and found it quite relatable. In fact, I have a similar story. Initially, I was also juggling a job and stand-up at the same time. Now I’ve left my job as a maid and taken up stand-up comedy full time. Swara Bhasker and Varun Thakur have acted really well. I believe this web series will inspire all Indian women to choose a career of their choice, and live their dreams. I think parents should also watch this series to realise that they need to let their kids choose their own career path.”
Sonali Thakker, writer and stand-up comic
“When the news (about the show) came out, we were all ready to dislike it. A show about a female stand-up comic’s journey? I mean come on, you can understand why some (most) of us felt that way. And the trailer didn’t help the situation. But then, I watched the show. In one go. And liked it. First things first, it’s not a realistic depiction of the scene, which is fine because it’s not a documentary that needs to be authentic. It's a fictional TV show and it does what it needs to, which is to have an interesting story and keep the viewers’ attention.I’ve never watched any work by Ravi Patel (comedian from LA) but he’s very natural in front of the camera. Mona Ambegaonkar (Beanie’s mother) is a fine actor and has some really fun lines in the show. Swara Bhasker as the lead was super in her scenes with Varun Thakur; I really liked their chemistry. But if there’s a second season, I feel like she should go and watch some open mics in the Indian scene. I’m sure she did that before this season as well because I have watched her perform once, but I think she needs some more of that.”Follow Snigdha on Twitter.