A Room Of One’s Own
Episode 6 of Bombay Begums begins with Shai rushed to hospital while Rani hopes that she’ll be okay. In the waiting room she sits with Lily, who shares words of encouragement.
Lily however has another offer; she wants to go to Dubai with her new lover and needs some money to do so. Rani sighs, telling her this is the last time. However, Rani has terms. Those come in the form of withdrawing any support for Ayesha and never contacting her again.
At work, Ayesha continues to come under fire for her allegations against Deepak. She’s warned that false allegations can be serious and Fatima – ever the hypocrite – urges her to withdraw her complaint. Ayesha refuses to do that though.
On the back of her impassioned plea, Fatima speaks to Deepak’s wife and exhibits concerns, believing Ayesha may actually be telling the truth. She seems to know what her husband has done though and chalks it up to men being men. She tells Fatima not to mess this up for her as alarm bells start ringing for Fatima.
This issue is only compounded further when she speaks to another victim, a woman by the name of Karuna Vishwanathan, who corroborates the story.
Rani heads off to visit Mahesh about work-related matters. He tells her to let this blow over and admits that he loves her. Once again she kisses him before saying goodbye, claiming the bank’s lawyers will be in touch. Unfortunately this causes massive issues as the newspapers get hold of what’s happened.
Rani feels betrayed as Fatima chimes in and asks what’s worse – doing the betraying or being betrayed. Rani thoughtfully retorts that they’re both their own form of hell.
At hospital, Rani speaks to Shai who regrets going to the party. As she sobs, Rani finds common ground with her over broken hearts. She reaches out and holds her stepmother’s hand. As they talk, Rani admits she was abused in the past. Their conversation is a touching one, as Shai eventually admits that she loves Rani and the two embrace.
Back home, Fatima confronts Arijay and claims that they need to drop this pretense of being a happily married couple. Of course, Arijay genuinely sees it that way but cheater Fatima doesn’t. She pulls away from him and admits that she slept with Jeff. She tells him she wasn’t drunk and that this has been an ongoing thing.
Fatima goes on to justify her actions, claiming she felt hollow inside. She didn’t do this to hurt him but of course it’s too late for that. Arijay is not happy and eventually curses at his partner. This is the final straw as Fatima suddenly leans forward and kisses him. Arijay pulls away and admits he doesn’t know if she loves him.
Fatima eventually gets back to work duties and speaks to Ayesha, apologizing for what happened before and promising that she’ll do her best to team up and take Deepak down no matter what.
Thanks to Rani opening up earlier in the episode, she too has decided to do something about this and teams up with Ayesha and Fatima. She rings the commissioner and brings up the two cases of sexual assault. On the back of this, Deepak is arrested.
Ayesha breaks the news to Ron that she likes women and that she’s thinking about moving out soon. He’s obviously taken aback and even more so when Ayesha admits she’s been seeing someone else the whole time they’ve hooked up. He feels betrayed, crossing his arms tightly as she apologizes for what happened.
Lily makes her decision after flip-flopping between the factory and her lover, deciding on the former. This brings a big crowd for the opening, followed by Rani admitting in front of everyone that she too was a victim of sexual assault. As women they need to collectively raise their voice and hit back. It’s a really rousing speech and one that sees some decent closure to these stories.
Meanwhile, Arijay and Fatima sit down and talk about their life. He doesn’t want to be in this fractured relationship (quick interject here, the mirror on the wall is smashed while they talk. This is symbolic of their relationship right now. It’s a small stylistic cue and a pretty good one a well.) Anyway, the conversation eventually finishes with Arijay leaving the house.
Meanwhile, Rani and Naushad hook up together. Only, while they do Deepak breaks the news about Zuvi and the money bribery to the police. As the episode closes out, they rush into Rani’s house to arrest her, baiting for a second season.
The Episode Review
So Bombay Begums bows out with a whimper rather than a roar. This Indian show has certainly had a lot to say but it’s gone about it in a relatively questionable way. On the one hand, the ideas presented about sexual abuse and the patriarchy are definitely important, and in these male-dominated workplaces you really get a feel for how cutthroat this line of business is.
At the same time, both Fatima and Rani are in positions of significant power, with Rani serving as the cheating CEO and Fatima obviously working as a manager – also cheating on her part. If anything, Arijay is the one being suppressed here, forced into giving up his promotion to avoid workplace hostilities.
Then you have Lily who honestly started as one of the more interesting characters and devolved into the weakest. Her whole lover affair fiasco from episode 4 onwards completely took the wind out of her sails and negated the ideas behind her passionately telling Ayesha to fight and to “not be a slave”.
The irony here is that she has been clinging to the ideals of a man rather than presenting herself as a strong female that she so easily could have been. Thankfully she makes the right choice at the end and decides to stand up for herself and open the factory.
Ayesha too has had a pretty turbulent road but annoyingly her sexual abuse case ends up nowhere as the series tacks on this ridiculous second season tease that may or may not be renewed.
I’m not quite sure why that was needed to be honest. I mean, without it the show actually ends quite conclusively and the creators could have saved that film-reel as a prologue if the show is renewed. The way it’s just slapped on here at the end does feel quite disingenuous.
Speaking of disingenuous, Fatima and Arijay’s storyline has been completely all over the place this season. I get that this is quite typical of a toxic relationship between two people but you can’t help but feel sorry for Arijay.
Once he gets over his jealousy, he congratulates his wife and succumbs to her having the better job. She’s the one who decided to cheat on him with a random guy called Jeff – while Arijay and her were talking about having a baby no less. Eventually the truth is revealed and Arijay leaves – but it just feels like they did him dirty this season.
That is ultimately the biggest problem with Bombay Begums. For every great concept and idea it presents, there’s an undercurrent of hypocrisy. Yes these women should be empowering and dominant. Yes it is bad that men sexually abuse women and that absolutely should be reprimanded and punished.
But is it also okay for women to cheat on their partners? Is it okay to emotionally blackmail and gaslight your colleagues? And to do so with no comeuppance for your actions at the end? At the end of the day, these characters are not perfect but what’s here is akin to Lance Armstrong coming out and condemning bike riders for taking drugs.
Bombay Begums is a show of emotional highs and hypocritical lows. It’s another Netflix Original that squanders its potential after a pretty solid first half, using a good chunk of exposition in episode 5 to try and justify its cheating characters. Episode 6 does right the ship slightly but whether that will be enough to entice people in to a second season, remains to be seen.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up Later This Week!