The digital platform is booming with content that does not have to face the strict censorship guidelines that filmmakers are forced to follow. Risqué is not a risk on streaming platforms, as proven by It’s Not That Simple. The six-episode web series has been written by Charudutt Acharya and directed by Danish Aslam. The show is being aired on Voot, the streaming channel owned by film and television producer Viacom 18.
It’s Not That Simple is the story of Meera (Swara Bhaskar), who is trapped in an unhappy marriage with Jayesh (Karanveer Mehra). She meets her school friends Sameer (Akshay Oberoi) and Rajiv (Vivan Bhatena) at a reunion and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Meera begins to question the rules of her marriage and embarks on an extramarital affair that will change the course of her relationships with the three men in her life.
In the first episode, Meera narrates her account in first person, asking viewers to watch rather than judge her. “Why is a man’s extramarital affair considered gossip, and a woman’s termed a scandal?” Meera wants to know.
The episode opens with Meera strutting into a hotel lobby, dressed in a slinky cocktail dress and high heels. She reveals that she is waiting for her paramour. The drama switches into flashback where morose scenes from her marriage establish her state of unhappiness. The entry of Sameer and Rajiv turns her world topsy-turvy as the two men vie for her attention.
Bhaskar, who has played strong-willed characters in films such as Tanu Weds Manu (2011), Raanjhanaa (2013) and Nil Battey Sannata (2016), displays the same strength of character in Meera, but she looks miscast for the part of a frumpy housewife. Her tone and accent are awkward and stilted as she tries to switch between English and Hindi.
Mehra is perfect in his one-dimensional role as a crabby husband, Oberoi makes an earnest attempt to emote, while Bhatena gleefully plays the role of a charisma-free stud. Despite its supposedly bold theme, explicit scenes and strong language, the show feels like a trite formula being recycled in a new setting.
Aslam and Acharya make a strong case for seeing the affair from Meera’s point of view, but they do not shed any insights on the cuckolded Jayesh, offering viewers an imbalanced view of relationships. It is easy enough to tell who will be watching and who will be avoiding it.