Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo(Disney+Hotstar, 8 Episodes)
Rating: * ½
I am really scared of women who wear nose-rings on screen. They are invariably too sassy for their own good and frighteningly and scarily mortifyingly aggressive.
Dimple Kapadia in Homi Adajania’s capricious crime caper which is a sort of all-female version of the recent Rana Naidu,is definitely the nose-ting type . Her character(and what a character!) Savitri runs a drug cartel somewhere in the border area of Rajasthan(Dimple’s accent is more Godmother than Rudaali) with her chronically dissatisfied daughter(Radhika Madan) and two daughters-in-law Bijli and Kajal,played with a belligerent impunity that tries hard to match Saasuma’s sassiness, by Isha Talwar and Angira Dhar .
One of the daughters-in-law , we are shown, has a lesbian love interest in the big bad city(see what happens women in the rural heartland head to the city).
Savitri’s two sons are NRI wastrels heading home to what they presume to be a sedate Mataji and docile wives and hand cooked meals.
Little do they know!
This is the problem with Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo which originally called itself Saas Bahu Aur Cocaine and that was a devilish touch for the drug-peddling women: from cooking to cocaine.(In fact I have a better title: What’s Cocaine, Ladies?).
Flamingo is a variant of cocaine. I had to google for this information, not being as “cool” as these tangy ladies and their supercool director who thinks it is wackily entertaining to give a subverted twist to the Saas-Bahu sagas from Eka Kapoor’s farmhouse that we grew up watching.
I am sure there is an audience for Adajania Dimple-driven drivel in some part of the world. Call me oldfashioned. But watching women trying hard to empower themselves by behaving like men, is not my cup of tea even if it is spiked. All the ladies in this saas-bahu eccentricity get to do a lot of kung fu reducing their male adversaries to chowed men.
The stunts with lots of chopped limbs and smeared ketchup, are not well choreographed. Or maybe it is the light. On the OTT screen night scenes tend to look gassed out.
At one point in the storytelling Savitri even cuts off a sidey henchman’s tongue.I thought this very symbolic. The men in the serial don’t have a voice. Not that they don’t speak. They do. But they babble in vain. The series is not interested in them. Not even the talented Deepak Dobriyal who came across as mirthfully menacing in Bholaa recently. Here he is just annoying in his snarling avatar.
The female actors who anchor the rancour are not much in their element.Dimple seems inspired by the spectacular Shabana Azmi in Godmother who could occupy the male space without behaving like a man. Here the women think playing human battering Rams makes them ultra-cool Sitas.
All talented actresses, they know not what to do with a series that does maa-bahen with the saas-bahu trope.