All the male characters around Sumukhi Suresh’s Pushpavalli, including the new entrant in the second season of the Amazon Prime Video original series, the sweet and the tennis loving fiance, Vidyut – carry a female energy.
With Pushpavalli, writer-comedian Sumukhi Suresh says she wanted to create a problematic but relatable female character, someone who cannot be easily slotted as black or white.
Even all the male characters around the protagonist — the good-looking Nikhil she stalks, the ever abusive but sweet librarian-friend Pankaj she constantly manipulates for her little schemes or the new entrant in the second season of the Amazon Prime Video original series, the sweet and the tennis loving fiance, Vidyut — they all carry a female energy.
The result is an immensely watchable drama and a great show to get hooked to in times of coronavirus quarantine.
“Initially, I just wanted to write a funny show. I’m not a big fan of female characters that are painted in black-and-white even though a lot has changed over the years but subliminally, we still slot women as ‘sati savitri’ or ‘vamp’. Why can’t they be both? All women are grey,” Suresh told PTI in an interview.
“With Pushpavalli, what I wanted to say was that ‘yes, she is a problematic character but she is also a nice person with insecurity’. You relate to her not because she is a stalker, you relate to her because she is insecure,” she added.
The character, a woman who moves to Bengaluru from Bhopal to be near her oblivious crush, gave Suresh a chance to explore her insecurities.
“Moving cities for a guy? Honestly, I have done that. I have worked at a library so I created that environment in the show. It is sort of personally inspired as in I wanted to explore the whole thought of insecurity,” she said about the ‘fiction-ish story’.
“Pushpavalli is the most manipulative and a problematic character in the show but she is also so insecure that you are like ‘somebody please give her something’. You are constantly on ‘didi’ (elder sister) mode with her. I wanted audiences to feel that,” the actor-comic, who is also the creator of the show, said.
When it came to writing the men in Pushpavalli, Suresh said she loved throwing those problems at the characters that are normally faced by women.
“I like to give boys troubles that girls have. For example Pankaj (played by good friend Naveen Richard) is verbally very abusive but he is also the guy who accepts a flawed best friend. Pankaj is also the guy who likes to wear pink shirts and is more insecure in his relationship with Swati (Preetika Chawla). There is a female energy to all the male characters in the show. They are not feminine, they just have female energy,” Suresh said.
In Vidyut, played by Vidyut Gargi, she wanted a typical Indian romantic figure, unlike the one’s seen in American movies or novels.
“Vidyut is a quintessential rom-com character from India. He is very local flavor. He is tall, sweet, likes tennis and says stuff like ‘you are feisty, I like that’. The reason I like creating female energies around my male characters is because my father is like that. He is a proper feminist and it is so regular for him that he does not even register that,” she said.
Pankaj and Pushpavalli’s chemistry is one of the best things to watch for in the show. They are good friends – one is manipulative, while the other is irritated but always looking out for other.
She further added, “Naveen and I, we keep giving each other characters that others won’t give us. For example, Naveen wrote Better Life Foundation where I play a very strict, angry boss and that’s not someone I am. I’m very jovial. Also, Naveen and my chemistry is really good. We keep discounting it, take it for granted. We did not feel it during the shooting because we have worked so much that we did not realise. But we realised that it has turned out well.”
The multicultural personality of Bengaluru gives the show a certain rootedness along with a charming set of characters in people like the no-nonsense PG owner Vasu or the curious but helpful tea shop guy from north India, called simply T-Boi. Suresh said everyone — the writers, her director Debbie Roy and the actors –pulled up their socks for season two as they were aware of the audience expectations.
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