Mahi Way: I See Pigs Fly

20 Jan

Mahi Talwar (Pushtiie S) is young, pretty and smart. She wants to be a serious journalist covering serous topics. In the meantime, she’s putting in her hours at Delhi-based ladymag “Trend” where she writes an agony aunt column and is paid in all the temp-work and humiliation she can take. Why? Because she’s fat.

Not pleasantly plump or a little overweight. Fat. And if anyone knows anything about Punjabi girls in Delhi, it’s that that kind of weight is only acceptable after she’s gotten married to and reproduced with some teenager who’s in line to inherit his daddy’s business. Then, it’s golgappa city, baby, because chickadee has done. her. ever-lovin’. job! She’s hooked her man and popped out a kid! Pile on the pounds before that holy state of affairs though, and you’re just the eyesore that’s going to break the family’s back.

Mahi is convinced she’s never going to find her Prince Charming at this rate and her over-critical mother (Suparna Marwah) shares her belief. To severely undermining levels. Add to that an unrequited crush on the hottest guy who doesn’t even know she’s alive (and who prefers to date six foot tall blonde amazons anyway), and you wouldn’t take Mahi’s life if it came free with a packet of biscuits.

So how does she deal? With liberal doses of her favorite cookies, her ditsy-but-hot BFF Roshni (Monica Khanna), chocolate, a gazillion pairs of shoes that have a habit of making her trip at unfortunate moments, whatever she can find in the fridge, romantic movies (from the Yash Chopra stable, natch), all the golgappas she can chow down and her other BFF Sid (Mark Farokh Parekh) the gay fashion designer who is totally hot, doesn’t lisp, lachko-matko when he walks or dress in Hello Kitty colors.

Three episodes into its run, what I find most unbelievable about Mahi Way is that it’s on Indian television. I give both Indian TV and producer Aditya Chopra a fair amount of grief for their increasingly substandard produce – albeit heretofore in separate fields. So I wasn’t expecting their synergy to result in anything good. I was wrong.

Mahi Way has all the trademark YRF-isms that have turned its movies into such a chore and a parody of its Bollywood heyday in the recent past: from the “cunningly” inserted footage of old Yash Chopra romances, references to the cult of Romantic SRK, a Punjabi joint family presided over by a sweetums grandmother (Alka Mehta), etc. But head writer Devika Bhagat (with dialogues by Anvita Dutt Gopalan) and director Nupur Asthana actually pull it off.

The father (Ikhlaque Khan) is the gentlemanly type who can never win in a family situation and has already made his peace with it; the mother is a total harpy who is about as far away from the Mother India ideal as you can get – “Sometimes my mother looks at me and wishes she’d practiced family planning,” Mahi muses as an aside. Her elder sister (Amrita Raichand) is a nightmare: the popular girl from school whose life has gone exceedingly well and is now set into the habit of rubbing it in her dorky sister’s face – upon being told of her sister’s decision to enter the Mrs. Delhi pageant, Mahi imagines herself standing on the stage with a sash labeled “Miss Nobody”.

It’s one of the reasons why Mahi is so endearing as a character – she’s funny because her humor is of the scorched earth variety. Underneath the prickly layers of the sulky fat chick who snarls at strangers who cut in line is a decent human being who’s hardly ever given a chance to be recognized as such because all anybody can notice about her is her weight.

Mahi Way has a habit of deftly switching back and forth between the truly ridiculous (the “perfect for Mahi” underwear barons The Chhadhas, for example) and the truly heartbreaking (the hippo arc) without so much as a hitch in its stride. “That really wasn’t necessary,” she tells a date who leaves her with a nasty comment about her weight after a really disastrous evening. “Yes it was,” he says, echoing all the other people in her life who go straight for the blubber as an easy way to put her down.

Not that Mahi doesn’t have issues of her own when it comes to people. Or men. She’s obsessed with her crush because he wears expensive clothes, wears an expensive cologne, and is the kind of guy who would make her mother and sister’s eyes bug out if she ever brought him home. We have a better idea about the unknown stranger she’s constantly bumping into and skirmishing with all over town, than her dream man who works in the same building as her magazine.

This is, of course, deliberate but like I said earlier, this is a show that isn’t afraid to embrace the cliche so that it can put its own stamp on it. For instance, the wise old Yash Chopra grandmother who likes to overshare about her romantic past is very much in play here – but she balances it out by assuring Mahi that her Prince Charming must be on his way. “You know what idiots men can be about asking for directions,” is her way of cheering up her granddaughter.

So yes, Mahi Way sounds like an uneasy cross between Ugly Betty and Sex and the City. What of it? They make it work, with better production values than you’ve seen on Indian TV before, and have a channel on Youtube so you can watch it. That’s all that matters.


Posted by on January 20, 2010 in Entertainment, Review, Television, Video


24 responses to “Mahi Way: I See Pigs Fly

  1. Empowerment Engineer

    January 20, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing Amrita, I am looking forward to checking it out. Wit, Punjab-sized, what’s not to like 🙂

  2. pitu

    January 20, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Ooooooh sounds awesome, I shall check it out. What’s with YRF TV? I am really digging Lift Kara De too!

  3. S(h)ow Time!

    January 20, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    @Mari: Way to go, Indian TV! Sounds like a welcome respite in the wake of all those spiteful saas-bahu sagas you’d written in about.

    I was especially kicked coz “chocolate…whatever she can find in the fridge, romantic movies…” so reminded me of Bridget Jones’s Diary!

  4. wordjunkie

    January 20, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    I give it three months before it bows before the TRP gods and goes the way of every other Hindi soap …. weeping, maang mein sindoor, karva chauth, terminally ill/ evil mother inlaw, uberblingy bahus. That’s how ‘Jassi’ killed itself 😦

  5. sunil

    January 21, 2010 at 1:05 am

    See the thing with YRF is that they clearly understand film-making AND that it is important to cater to the wife. (Not mine though!) Their only problem is public perception. The chattering nabobs need to realize that they took inspiration from Ramu’s factory, discovered that there are 52 weekends in a year and decided to maximize profit. :p

  6. Ronita

    January 21, 2010 at 1:53 am

    I saw the promo sometime back, and was pleasantly surprised. Having struggled with body issues all my life it was nice to see a smart nice and fat girl as a main protagonist on an Indian serial. But I wonder how long it will last before the fat girl undergoes super transformation and becomes slim and sexy. Its Indian TV after all.

  7. DewdropDream

    January 21, 2010 at 5:49 am

    For starters, I wouldn’t really term the leading lady ‘fat’. She appears healthy to me, plump even. Could be my eyes of course, oh well.

    And I’m agreeing with ‘Show time’ there, it does seem more like Bridget Jones’ Diary!

    And again, agreeing with Wordjunkie. Let’s see how long it takes before they bow before the mighty culture-soap devta and we see nasty plotting relatives and non-issues being trumped up.

    I’m going to watch this though, thank you 🙂

  8. BlueMist

    January 21, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I caught up first 2 episodes I think. Only thing that I don’t want to see in the end is Mahi got into some weight loss program and turned into some hot blonde and walked away with the love of her life. Like they did with “Jassi”.

    but I also want to appreciate YRF to bring new fresh ideas to indian Tv. I am hooked to “powder” already. Rishta dot com is not bad either.

  9. ramesh

    January 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    the trashy content problem on indian television is compounded by the fact that ALL shows are now on for 4 or 5 days a week .. there is only so long that an idea can be sustained .. the saas bahu dynamics apart so much time goes in the camera just staring at the characters (and background music on full swing) etc etc. .. this show has started off nicely enough but if it is successful it is bound to go the jassi way to milk the TRPs .. someday tv will go back to the weekly format and then only good shows will form and sustain .. but really it hasn’t happened in 10 years and i wouldn’t bet on it in the near future , till then we will survive on the news, animal planet and go off early to bed ..

  10. sachita

    January 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Ok, will watch it now. And agree with what every one says above – if this is a daily show then eventually no plot is sustainable for that long, they will give her a make over …

    But the Punjabiness puts me off. I have already exhausted my life time quota for Punjabi characters in hindi movies:)

  11. sunil

    January 22, 2010 at 1:54 am

    P.S. I am honestly surprised that people still watch serials. 🙂

  12. scribina

    January 22, 2010 at 10:10 am

    watched the third episode and was blown away.

    btw.. the first episode is online

  13. Hades

    January 22, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Indian TV needs a good sitcom, saala. There’s been nothing after Sarabhai vs Sarbhai (other than Sharad Pawar, that is).

  14. Shrabonti

    January 22, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Totally agree with Wordjunkie, except this bit: “That’s how ‘Jassi’ killed itself”. Jassi at least never strayed into mangalsutra territory, thankfully. I was thinking of all those serials, starting with ‘Yeh Meri Life Hai’ which began as teeny boppy shows about middle-class girls and college angst and quickly turned into family dramas with two women fighting over one man and major marriage issues and suchlike. Those shows put me off TV for life, and I’m yet to go back.

    But thanks, Amrita, will check this out.

  15. Amrita

    January 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    EE – With MW – nothing at all! 😀

    Pitu – is that the weird interview show with KJo? I havent been able to get over my automatic cringe factor from watching the promo and actually catch it. Will do so now.

    ST – that’s a great comparison! I didnt think of it but it fits to a great extent.

    Wordjunkie – I only ever saw a few episodes of Jassi so I dont know what you’re talking about but from what I’ve seen so far of MW, it kicks Jassi’s ass in every dept. And Pushtiie isn’t a thin girl in a fat suit unlike Mona Singh and her makeover. I’m going to cross my fingers and sit here.

    Sunil – it’s funny you mention the factory because there is another YRF show called Powder that looks like the child The Factory abandoned at YRF’s doorstep. Check it out!

    Ronita – that would suck. Srsly.

    3D – She’s not morbidly obese or anything, no. But she’s definitely overweight and the way the show presents her is that she’s like the only 20-something in Delhi who isn’t thin and fabulous. Which is something I love because it’s true to life – when you feel unattractive, the whole world seems to look better and judge you for not being better. 😦

    BM – hahah! I dont think that’s gonna happen anytime soon. Pushtiie isn’t wearing a fat suit and she looked less than thrilled in that little gymming episode, poor baby.

    Ramesh – congratulations! This is a weekly show. I believe all the YRF show are. But then I read they’re not doing all that great so now I don’t know: maybe Indian Tv is stupid because thats what the audience wants? So confused.

    Sachita – it’s a weekly show, so relax! 😀 The punjabiness cant be helped but they have a sense of humor about it – there’s this part about a trio called Chinky, Pinky and Dinky that is LOL. and very true.

    Scribina – yay! 😀

    Hades – never saw it! 😦 But this is funny, check it out!

    Shrabonti – I dont think I saw Jassi other than a couple of epis in the first year which pissed me off and I never saw it again. So I have no idea what to say 😀 Mahi does have a romance component but from the sounds of it right now it definitely isn’t headed towards Ekta Mata territory with wedding porn.

  16. ST

    January 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Hiya. There’s this really cool used-book store in the downtown area (coupla blocks from where I live), and during a habitual haunt the other day, I stumbled upon this collection of poems by Shaikh Abil-Kheir titled “Nobody, Son of Nobody” and bam! Mahi’s “Miss Nobody” sash bonks me on the head! 😀 Needless to say, I found myself bringing the book home… and now am all but smacking my lips at its supreme simplicity.

  17. Shiv Shakti

    February 6, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Dear Amrita 🙂

    I have to say this is the most honest review i have read about the show so far 🙂 Very simple and real 🙂 Way to go !!!! It just what i think about it 🙂 Oh sorry i have not introduced myself.. I am pushtiie, I play Mahi. Shiv Shakti is my “hiding behind it” name 😀

    And i have a secret to tell you.. Mahi is NOT loosing any weight .. ! 😉

    Blessed be 🙂

  18. Amrita

    February 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    ST – what’s it like? Should I get a copy?

    ShivS – that is awesome! 😀 Thank you. Your show gets better every week and I love the work your entire team is putting into it!

  19. Subhasree

    February 22, 2010 at 8:04 am

    I like the serial a lot becoz I can relate to it in so many ways. It reminds of sporadic serials which used to come earlier on DD and were for 26 episodes only and thoroughly relatable and believable. Mahi Way is like that. And please, if the producers and writers are keeping a tab, do NOT make Mahi lose weight…make so many girls around the country believe that you do not necessarily have to be slim to fall in love and to get the love of your life. The storyline matters to a lot of everyday people like me. Charge on!!!!!!!!!!1

  20. Esha Khan

    May 2, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    i need a big favor…i would like to the model number and brand name of the sunglass amrita is wearing in mahi way…thanx

  21. radhika

    July 4, 2010 at 3:26 am

    It reminded me a bit of Drop Dead Diva – oh, not the heavenly mistake or the Legally Blonde stuck inside the brainy lawyer – but in the commentary about how the world discriminates against the fat and the cruelty overall in laughing at how a fat girl can fall for a cool guy. Even the ditsy BFF seems to be a takeoff – except Jane in Diva is seriously smart and assertive on her work front.

    • Amrita

      July 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      I LOVE that show! I never quite bought how quickly she was able to turn into kickass lawyer and still be who she used to be, but I didnt care because I loved her so.

      • radhika

        July 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm

        Heh, there was this weird premise that demanded suspension of disbelief, that while her knowledge was all that of the kickass lawyer, her memories were that of Deb the model – as you said, willingly put up with that because the show itself was such fun. The cases didn’t matter but Jane was marvellous. Iloved it when she found herself spouting legalese and feeling a surprised twinge of pain each time that happened!

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