According to reports, Kareena Kapoor is in talks with entertainment giant Netflix to reprise her iconic character Poo from 2001 film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham in a new series.
ThePrint asks: Should Netflix relaunch an overly vain Poo played by Kareena Kapoor?
2018 does not need a Poo because women deserve better
I know that the internet has raised Kareena Kapoor’s character Poo to a high pedestal and rightfully so. Poo was iconic in 2001, subverting patriarchal norms, one snarky catchphrase at a time. She was everything that Bollywood needed 17 years ago — a counter to the overly drawn out self-sacrificial female characters. The message Poo gave to the women was that it was okay to place your needs first and that was refreshing after the Sanskari betis/bahus, like in Hum Saath Saath Hain.
However, my unpopular opinion is that Poo’s character should be left in 2001 when it was pathbreaking. 2018 has been a year that demanded a colossal amount of empathy, kindness and unity amongst women as they banded together against sexual harassment. And this gives way to new kinds of inspirational characters for women, ones they can relate to, ones who aren’t just privileged mean girls, but those with real problems that require contemplation.
I want the fierceness of Poo from 2001, but I also want her to be seen fighting battles every common woman in India is fighting today. The soundtrack to 2018 was the collective roaring call of women saying “time’s up”. As we wrap up the year, we’re a little jaded and a little tired. What would be truly refreshing to see would be a show about a woman with a similar journey and how she fought it out with strength and might. The last thing we need is another vain, rich, savarna Poo, whose life’s problems are limited to her family and fashion.
Relaunching Poo won’t be a mistake for Netflix
The reason why the not-so-overly-vain Poo is still remembered to date is because there hasn’t been an Indian competitor to replace her sass.
All around the world, sassy content is getting bigger viewership and India needs to keep up. The instant comebacks, the ego-deflating comments and the catchphrases, Hallelujah! Poo had it all, and we’ve been missing that on our screens (at least I had been).
Impressing the audience is not going to be a big deal. The nation that is glued to its TV sets to watch shows like Bigg Boss and Splitsvilla definitely needs an alternative in Poo.
Looking at the potential numbers that Poo is now going to cater to, and with the rising culture of Netflix in India, it might not be such a bad idea to bring back Kareena Kapoor’s iconic character.
For the sake of entertainment, an outlier is necessary for differentiation, and by reintroducing Poo into Indian entertainment, Netflix is going to bring more diversity to its content.
So when numbers, reach and TRP are already in favour of Poo, why should Netflix miss the opportunity?
35-year-old Poo will have to meet high expectations of Netflix-watching audience
Kareena Kapoor’s Poo was your quintessential Indian-turned-Western NRI girl. In any Hollywood movie, her squad would be identified as the elite “cheerleader-all girl” trio.
It definitely reminds one of High School Musical, Mean Girls or Gossip Girl.
But since this is Bollywood, the girl squad has a latent sanskari touch to it. Poo falls in love with a Sanskari Indian boy and goes back to her Indian roots. She helps him reunite with his family and amalgamates her Western ideas with Karwa Chauth and ‘Mera Bharat Mahan’.
The irony is that Bollywood never runs out of “inspirations” and Netflix is known for the originality of its content.
Although it wouldn’t be surprising, but rather disappointing, if the new 35-year-old Poo turns out to be inspired by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City or Gabrielle from Desperate Housewives. This is considering the fact that the previous Poo drew inspiration from Cher in Clueless.
Kareena Kapoor has gained versatility as an actor over the years and did wow the audience with her portrayal of ‘Poo’, but her performance on the Netflix show will have to go beyond the oomph factor. The reason for which is simple: the acting standards set by the likes of Radhika Apte and Rajshri Deshpande are very high. These women have played strong characters and established themselves despite being ‘non-glam’ characters in a male-centric and star-studded cast.
With so many brilliant performances by Bollywood actors on Netflix, Kareena’s Poo is definitely awaited with high expectations.
Poo taught a whole generation of Indian women that there’s nothing wrong with being sexy
Kareena Kapoor’s character Poo is arguably one of the most contentious characters of all times. Do we love her confidence or do we find her irritating because of her vanity? Speculation about Kareena returning as Poo in a Netflix series will only add fuel to the fire. Us audience love to hate Poo who wears designer clothes, cannot stand an extra ounce of fat in her body and whose pronunciation of ‘Soniya ka bhai‘ makes us cringe. But let’s accept it, most of us at some point in our life stood in front of the mirror and told ourselves, “Tumhe koi haq nahi ki tum itni khubsurat lago”. Poo taught a whole generation of Indian women that there’s nothing wrong with finding yourself sexy. So, yes, while we’ll publicly frown upon how vain and shallow Poo’s character may be, we do envy her for her confidence and ability to not give a damn.
Poo’s character will be loved and hated as much as it was 17 years ago. In fact, the audience will happily devour Poo’s character. I can only imagine the vast pool of content meme lords will have and who knows Poo might just inspire a new wave of feminism in the country. Whatever it is, we’ll have to wait and watch.
Netflix has become the new retirement retreat for Bollywood stars
Poo was a character that every ’90s kid idolised. She was sassy, stylish and got her way. In 2018, those ’90s kids still love her and want to make her their spirit animal. So I don’t see a reason why any of them will be offended when Poo comes backs on Netflix. But for sure, it will be harder for Netflix to sell Poo to a younger audience who may not fall for her slit red leather bell bottoms and coffee coloured lipstick. The character’s revival in 2018, after all, entirely rests on nostalgia.
An educated and ‘woke’ ’90s kid may find Poo egoistic and narcissistic, but still may feel nostalgic about the character. Poo’s treatment in the rumoured Netflix series will be similar to those meted out to other vain characters like Clueless’s Cher, Lorelei Gilmore of Gilmore Girls and others.
People may or may not like Poo as a 35-year-old, but it will mean little for Kareena Kapoor. You see, Netflix of late has become the new retirement retreat for Bollywood stars who are currently flopping at the box office. This retreat comes with facilities like an assured paycheque, no box office scorecard and being able to capture English-speaking youth with a role which would never be bought on the big screen. So eventually, it does not matter if you like or do not like Poo’s frivolity. For Poo, it is all ‘whatever’.
Netflix can give us Poo, but in 2018 she’s going to need more than a sassy catch-phrase
Poo wasn’t Karan Johar’s invention, to the contrary, the character has been around in a variety of avatars for over two centuries. Poo, the rich, superficial match-maker with a kind heart was once Cher Horowitz in the 1995 film Clueless, and even before that, Emma from Jane Austen’s 1815 novel. With each rendition, Poo’s character has evolved to adapt to the socio-political climate in which she is being portrayed. Netflix isn’t stupid — Poo in a woke, #MeToo, 2018 that is in the midst of its own feminist revolution, (hopefully) isn’t going to be half as vapid as she was previously portrayed. To be fair, Poo in 2001 — ranking men on their sex appeal and being confident in her own sexuality, was also subversive to conservative middle-class sentimentality in many ways. Poo was the perfect foil to Raichand’s patriarchal imperiousness.
But Kareena Kapoor isn’t 21 anymore, and to deny a character an arch of development and maturity would be foolish. At 38, having ‘meddling in other people’s love lives’ as your only trademark descriptor runs the risk of pushing you into a ‘nosey south-Delhi aunty’ category. I’m certain Kareena Kapoor wants to avoid any such pigeonholing.
Netflix can give us Poo if they want, but in 2018 she’s going to need more than a sassy catch-phrase. Some dreams, fears, flaws, and ambitions perhaps?
By Priyamvada Grover, journalist at ThePrint.
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