Bengali general entertainment channel Star Jalsa is gearing up for the launch of their new show Mem Bou (a local reference to Foreigner Wife). Now, after a genius classic like The Japanese Wife, one can’t be faulted for expecting something spectacular — up until the TV promos began to be aired. It’s hard to say what kind of a reaction the producers hoped to get from these promos, but the audiences just can’t stop laughing at being shown every possible stereotype in the book, and some more. The story of a foreigner girl falling for a Indian boy is not new, but the avatar in which she has presented here has left entire community puzzled.
With a fake accent and a weird blonde wig, the lack of budget in the Bengali TV industry is not only apparent but we as viewers take umbrage to the fact that we are expected to believe she’s a foreigner. Her chalky white skin may take you back to the days of ‘jatra’ (local theatre shows conducted in villages). Her blue contact lens as stand-ins a bonny blue pair of eyes are nothing but disastrous. Unless this whole Mem Bou concept is meant to be farce, many anticipate the upcoming series to be sheer ‘torture’. But, first episode high TRPs are pretty much guaranteed.
Thus far, two promos for the show – which is due to start September 19 – have been released; and with each promo, the trolling has just increased. The promo introduces a chauvinistic man, played by popular Bengal small screen actor Sourav Chakraborty, scolding his younger sister while she poses for a foreigner photographer. He further comments that such photographers only highlight poverty in India and bring shame to the country. Though the reasoning may not be entirely incorrect, such cultural appropriation smacks of tiresome clichés, which is one of the many reasons this TV promo already has viewers rolling their eyes. Chakraborty goes on to be quite taken aback when this ‘firang’ woman starts speaking in heavily accented Bengali, but that doesn’t make the situation any more believable for the viewer.
The second promo is worse. It tries to encapsulate the upcoming ‘pujo’ fever, showing the traditional red-floored-courtyard with the blue-eyed foreigner entering the household unwarranted and being ridiculed. She is treated as an outcast, to which she delivers the punchline for the show — “Tomra kano amake bideshi bole dure thele dao? Amar shikor je ekhanei” (Why do you all shove me away saying I’m a foreigner, when my roots are here?” So, maybe there are some Indian roots here that we’re not quite aware of yet.
Though there has been a great mystery to who is actually playing the role of the foreigner named Carol, a report by the TellyChakkar.com claims it is Vinita Chatterjee. The actress is said to be a journalism graduate from Kolkata and has had small stints in Hindi serials and shows. IndianExpress.com independently could not verify this report.
After the promos, here is how Bengalis on Facebook have reacted:
The epic name jokes. [The meme reads, “Hi! I’m Carol; Namaste, I’m Corola (the bong way to say Kerela)]
The new Messi look seems to have found a great competition [The meme says, don’t they look like brother and sister?]
Well, nothing is complete in Bengali without Tagore.
The weird wig brought back the Vasmol, Kesh kala bengali ad to forefront again.
And Bengali super star Prosenjit Chatterjee too was not left behind.
Well, Tollywood has a history of Bou (wife) tales, and this just compliments the list.
Singer-actor Monali Thakur fell prey to this trolling as many mistakenly thought it was her playing the role of the foreigner.
Some tried to explain it using theories to add to our respite
If you want to watch the promos here are the two promos
Well, after all this we can only say, you can love it or hate it but you certainly can’t ignore it.