We did a feminist rewrite of Ekta Kapoor’s reboot of Kasautii Zindagii Kay
The queen of soap operas, Ekta Kapoor just announced that she’s bringing back her mega popular show, Kasautii Zindagii Kay. Running for a solid seven years between 2001 to 2008, the show had entire households banishing common sense to watch the crying fest every evening. Dinner table conversations were incomplete without your granny feeling sorry for Prerna (the protagonist) and some venom directed at ‘vamp’ Komolika’s evil scheming. Anywhere you went, people referred to the characters as though they were actual people, even personal acquaintances. It immortalised, in public memory, actors like Shweta Tiwari (as Prerna), Cezzane Khan (as Anurag) and Ronit Roy (as Mr Bajaj) and of course, the inimitable Urvashi Dholakia (as Komolika). And given Ekta’s penchant for reincarnations and bringing people back from the dead, we suspected that the series would pick up from where it left off.
And other than featuring an all new cast, it would seem it has.
The reboot’s opening credits recreates the original scene by scene, but we’d be sorely disappointed if this plot too is riddled with regressive stereotypes. Not leaving anything to chance, we decided to reimagine Kasautii Zindagii Kay set in today’s day and age. But first, allow us to jog your memory and remind you what the original plot was like.
Prerna and Anurag are in love, but Anurag’s mother gets him to marry gold digger Komolika (whose elaborate bindis deserved their own show). Poor Prerna realises she’s pregnant (guess she wasn’t as sanskari as your mom would have you believe) and hates her lover for being such a goddamn mama’s boy. She hides the child’s existence from him. By the time he catches up with reality, Prerna is blackmailed into marrying an arrogant business tycoon, Mr Bajaj.
There’s a lot more than happens in this ill-fated love saga but we’ll spare you the details. Some memories are better left suppressed.
Now, coming to our feminist version. It’s 2018 so we obviously don’t have time for ridiculous stereotypes like the ideal bahu in modest saris and minimal jewellery while the vamp traipses around in off-shoulder blouses and rebelliously short hair. Here, Prerna isn’t the ultimate bechari. When Anurag doesn’t marry her, sure, she mopes around a bit. She even shitposts on Facebook with status updates about betrayal and wiping the slate clean. But not for long. Her girl gang rallies around her and reminds her she’s a goddess who deserves someone better. As a single mother and the head of an NGO that deals with mental health awareness, she proves be a strong role model to her son who grows up in a post #MeToo era. From a young age, he learns that his mother didn’t need a man to lead a meaningful life.
Komolika, whose loud make-up marked her out as a ‘bad woman’, is now a sassy-serving beauty tycoon who can contour better than Huda Kattan. She still has her theatrics intact, but she’s only hitting on Anurag for fun. She’s hardly the type to settle for a boring pushover like him, especially when she could be out there having the time of her life with the 100 matches waiting for her on Tinder.
In our version, the spineless Anurag still marries a demure girl of his mother’s choice (because khandani izzat and all that) but soon realises his one true love is Prerna. He begs and begs her to take him back, but tough luck. She’s moved on and as a policy, prefers to let exes remain exes. #BoyBye.
Over time, Prerna and Komolika gradually realise that their questionable taste in men is not the only thing they have in common and become BFFs. They take annual vacations to the Bahamas together and laugh at the fact that they could ever have been smitten by Anurag. And oh, they always use a cruelty-free cleanser to take their make-up off before going to bed.