The “Pati Patni Aur Woh” formula is done to death. How about a trans twist to shake up things? In the web series Pati Patni Aur Panga, Romu (Naveen Kasturia) wants to divorce his wife Shivani (Adah Sharma) – not because she has been cheating on him with a “Woh” but because she is the “Woh”. She was previously a he.

Romu was so busy drooling over Shivani during their ridiculously short courtship that he did not register the fact when she told him about her sex change operation. Coerced by his mother (Alka Amin), Romu rushes to the altar. Belatedly, he realises that Shivani’s past is a blank. When she reminds him about what he should have remembered anyway, he has a meltdown.

Romu’s mother is as homophobic as he is. The matter ends up in court, where Shivani gets to give a speech about feminism and LGBTQ rights.

Written and directed by Abir Sengupta, the MX Player series aims to simplify the discrimination faced by trans people for the creatures living under a rock.

In other places, humour has been a reliable weapon to allay anxieties over queerness, but not this time round. There simply isn’t enough time to register the importance of the subject or Shivani’s feelings. It appears at times that Pati Patni Aur Panga is a movie of roughly 140 minutes chopped up into six episodes. Shivani’s earnest lecture about her right to be whoever she wants to be barely sinks in.

It doesn’t help that the characters are poorly sketched and the comedy is jejune. Romu’s flagrant homophobia, which he shares with his mother, is passed off as a joke. When he learns the truth about Shivani’s past, he begins to have recurring nightmares about making out with a short-haired man in a sari. The talented Naveen Kasturia, presented as a pathetic dweeb throughout, has never looked so forlorn.

Pati Patni Aur Panga (2020).