The scene was that of a typical Indian household. The burly patriarch was busy flexing muscles while his wife toiled in the kitchen. And then, as a breath of fresh air, their eight-year-old son walked on to the stage in a saree, to his father’s dismay.
“He serves food, makes tea, stitches falls on his mother’s saree. If he stays with women all day, he will become like women only,” the boy’s aunt declared, prompting his father to draw a moustache on him. “Men don’t cry, they make others cry. And they have big moustaches,” the father said, to which the boy responded, “Why cannot men cry?”
These characters will soon be seen in Colors TV’s upcoming family drama Roop, produced by Rashmi Sharma Telefilms. The show aims to question conventional ideas of masculinity through its eight-year-old protagonist, played by Afaan Khan. A press show was held in Mumbai on Wednesday to launch the show.
“We wanted to challenge the stereotypical mentality that is associated with masculinity,” producer Rashmi Sharma said at the event. “The woman’s place is as important as a man’s in a family. It is usually perceived that a woman’s role includes just marriage and motherhood. Roop is our form of a small effort to change the image of the man in today’s society.”
Roop, which also stars Yash Tonk, Mitaali Nag, Vaishalee Thakkar and Nikki Sharma, will be aired on Colors TV from May 28.
Sharma said she wanted to depict a show with a social theme. “Whenever we think of a story we think of what possible ways we can tell a story through the form of entertainment,” Sharma said in an interview. “Sometimes they are based on the extraordinary people we see in our lives and sometimes it is the reality. We might have to add exaggerated characters into the story, but at least we have a solid foundation and ground, which is based on reality.”
Khan was last seen in Sony TV’s controversial show Pehredaar Piya Ki, in which he played a young boy who is made to marry an 18-year-old woman for his protection after his parents are killed. The show was eventually cancelled after it faced immense backlash for seemingly advocating child marriage.
Sharma said Khan’s character in Roop was completely different from what he’d done before. “If you see Afaan now, you will see no similarity with his previous work,” Sharma said. “We were doing auditions for the show. But for some reason I did not know Afaan from previous shows and I thought he was a newcomer. His innocence and the spark in his expressions is what made us pick him. When we conducted the audition, we could see a trace of Roop in him.”
Through the show, Sharma hopes to challenge damaging ideas of masculinity that are linked to crimes against women. “People remember these crime incidents for the time being and forget about it as time goes on, thinking the problem will end if the perpetrator is punished. But that is now how that works,” Sharma said. “If only the men in the world were like Roop, it would be a better place and maybe then the unbearable news stories and incidents will reduce. The show is a small effort to try and make that possible.”
Sharma hopes the show will also change the way children are raised to think about gender. “It is a show with which everyone in the family will connect with,” she said. “I hope that the audience see Roop and realise that parenting must be done differently, without any discrimination and age-old definitions. From dolls to colours, you cannot be stuck to an old ideology and parent a child.”