Pati, Patni aur Panga, the Hindi web series by streaming platform MX Player, came in the eye of a storm for its alleged transphobic content.
Trans Equality Society, a Telangana-based transgender rights group, sent a legal notice to MX Player over “transphobic, misogynist, defamatory, and malicious content about members of transgender community” in the series, and to the Times Group (the owner of MX Player) over news stories published by The Times Of India about the show, that violate the “self-identification of transgender persons” on Thursday.
The organisation, which represents more than 200 transgender persons, in its cease and desist notice has demanded that the trailer and all episodes of the show and articles in The Times Of India, be taken down. The notice also asks the publishing group to tender an apology on the first page of “all” its “newspapers”.
“The trailer as well as all episodes of the show are blatantly transphobic, misogynistic, malicious, factually incorrect, and derogatory and defamatory against queer and transgender persons, and all members of the LGBTQIA community. The trailer and all episodes of the show perpetuate and propagate the social stigma, stereotypes and humiliations faced by queer and transgender persons,” reads the notice.
“They literally know nothing about us but chose to represent us,” Philip C, programme manager, Gender and Sexual Minorities Initiative at Human Rights Law Network, who identifies themselves as gender queer and was a part of filing the notice, told Silverscreen India.
“The creators of the show have done zero research and it is extremely lazy writing if you are not doing any research, also from the artistic point of view. Even if you don’t have trans persons onboard, who is writing about the character, there should have been some research as to what transness is, what is the movement about, who is trans person, who is gender nonbinary person. Answers to questions such as what is gender affirmation procedure and what the changes in one’s body are? Are both dealt with in the show purely based on assumptions the creators had with no knowledge or information about either,” Philip said.
The society said in its notice that the show was released “in spite of widespread criticism of its trailer and demands from the LGBT community to withdraw the trailer and not release the show further marginalises and suppresses the voices of transgender persons”. The trailer, that released on December 5, centres around a man who wants to divorce his wife after coming to know that she is a transwoman.
Helmed by Abir Sengupta and starring Adah Sharma and Naveen Kasturia, the official synopsis of Pati, Patni aur Panga reads, “Small-time sub-broker Romanchak (Naveen Kasturia) wanted his dull, run of the mill life to be “romanchak” but little did he know that marrying Shivani Bhatnagar (Adah Sharma) would change life as he knew it, forever!”
Speaking about a scene from the show where the trans person character urinates while standing Philip pointed out, “The makers did not know about the gender affirmation surgery. If they had checked, after a trans woman undergoes gender affirmative surgery, she does not need to urinate standing up. It is as basic as it comes. They took the community for granted and decided to be the voice of the community.”
Philip said, “Considering the lack of research and contextualising the position of privilege from where cis individuals create content, the writing is both extremely offensive for the trans community as a whole and lazy. Because, one, it pushed forth a lot of stereotypes that were already there. Stereotypes of members of the queer community being sexually depraved is a trope used casually in the show. These are things that do not help the community. And also, statements from actor who played Shivani (trans person character from the series) saying she would be playing a man, is also offensive and defamatory to the community.”
The society has sent the legal notice via email on Thursday and will be sending it out through post also.
The makers of the show have not issued a statement on the legal notice yet.