All it took was using her sexuality to bring a man, who terrified her, to his knees and witness her own power. Netflix’s She is created by Imtiaz Ali and is about a subdued woman’s journey to empowerment.
She is the story of a female constable, Bhumika (Aaditi Pohankar), who struggles every day to prove herself worthy of a job that is considered to be a man’s work. She is constantly made to feel unattractive and masculine; she is a victim of the stereotype that women as authority figures cannot be feminine.
Although she seems masculine, she is not powerful in any way. Apart from being seen as inadequate at work, in her personal life also, she is suppressed by her ex-husband and her sister numerous times.
One day, she gets an assignment to go undercover as a prostitute to catch the leader of a drug cartel, Sasya (Vijay Varma). Contrary to everybody’s expectations, Bhumika follows her instincts and is successful even when things go wrong.
This one instance makes her see herself in a different light and become aware of the power of her sexuality. She accepts another, more dangerous, assignment because she wants to discover her strengths and going back to her previous life would not make it possible. After this, there is no stopping her.
Pohankar accurately portrays the character of Bhumika. One second we see a subdued Marathi woman who cannot take a stand for herself, the other second we witness her transformation into a bold seductress; she makes both these personalities believable.
Varma is a breath of fresh air. Whenever he comes on the screen, he takes command of the scene. His character is not likable, but his sassy personality makes it hard for one to not like him.
Supporting actors like Vishwas Kini also played their part well. The performances in this web series are its saving grace as the directors of the show failed to fulfil its potential and to make it impactful.
The web series is based on a rarely discussed concept of women’s sexuality. It provides a fresh perspective when it relates women’s sexuality with power in a phallocentric world.
It is not voyeuristic, in the sense that all the scenes where the female body is the camera’s focus are devoid of the male gaze; it is the female gaze that views the body in this sexual discovery.
She shows instances of casual sexism at work that women are expected to ignore. It also shows a meek woman following her instincts and taking charge.
During the two missions, things get out of hand and the protagonist, who just had to play the part of a showpiece to lure men, becomes the brains of the operations.
Imtiaz Ali’s script was meant to show a woman’s journey to empowerment, but it does not quite land its mark. The protagonist is pushed around by everyone and never once does she take a stand for herself.
In the last few seconds of the web series, Bhumika finally takes control of her desires, but she is only able to do that because the man lets her, which defeats the whole purpose of it.
Throughout the web series, a lot of mystery is built around the character of the villain, who is supposedly a very dangerous man, but he only appears in the second last episode, and like a bomb that never goes off, he fails to make an impression.
The plot of the web series is highly unrealistic at times and hence unbelievable. The characterisation could have been better if the characters had been more consistent in their actions.
Despite its flaws, She is an unconventional show. It will be interesting for those who like watching web series that provide a different perspective on taboo topics.