His Storyy ended up being a quite messy yet totally bingeable show featuring a woman trying to cope with her husband falling in love with another man.
This review of His Storyy contains spoilers. You have been warned.
When it comes to content about queer people, especially gay men who are coming out of the closet and upending the heteronormative lives they have created, one complaint I have has to do with the narrative not focusing on the women involved. Yes, it’s good that a gay man decided to be truthful. But what about his wife? Feelings of betrayal are going to be rampant and wanting her to suddenly be okay with her husband being in love with another dude doesn’t make sense.
In my opinion, His Storyy handled the wife’s perspective quite well during the 11-episode first season. And with how things ended during the finale, let’s see if this show returns for a second outing.
The premise involves Sakshi (Priyamani Raj) being grateful for 20 years of perfect married life with her husband, Kunal (Satyadeep Misra). She has continued to realize her dream of opening restaurants while Kunal handles the accounting stuff. They also have two sons. And while Sakshi’s friends always compliment her on finding an amazing husband and business partner, it’s clear from the early episodes that something isn’t right. Kunal hasn’t been intimate with her for a while now and, as expected, Sakshi (being a woman) beings to think it might be her fault.
Kunal, on the other hand, while happily fulfilling his fatherly duties and being supportive of his wife’s ambitions, is also having an affair with a well-known food critic named Preet (Mrinal Dutt). Their secret relationship has been going on for three years and as far as Kunal’s concerned, it can continue as it is. He has no intention of coming out of the closet and ruining his marriage with Sakshi especially because, in a sense, he does greatly love her. After all, they have been together for two decades.
But everything comes crashing down when Sakshi, deciding to cancel a meeting to return home to surprise Kunal, sees him making out with Preet in Kunal’s car.
I liked how the creative team handled such a revelation. Even after seeing her husband with another man, Sakshi blames herself and came up with excuses to defend his actions. There’s a lot her mind thinks about. Maybe Kunal got bored and wants to try something new? Maybe he saw a specific type of adult content and is interested in having a threesome? She thinks of everything to ignore the fact that her husband is likely gay and has fallen for another man because accepting the truth will lead her to say goodbye to her married life.
The scenes between Sakshi and Kunal are made impactful due to the chemistry between the two actors. It’s clear there’s love between them, but they can’t be together anymore. Other than Kunal being gay, the biggest point of contention is how he betrayed Sakshi’s trust in him. Regardless of him being queer or not, he did cheat on her and I’m glad that’s something Sakshi doesn’t ignore to try and hold their marriage together.
Another moment I liked was when Sakshi and Kunal were getting ready to sign the divorce papers. Her inner monologue about how everyone was being sympathetic toward Kunal was some good writing. If he had cheated on her with another woman, everyone would have felt sorry for Sakshi. But because he revealed he was gay, everyone was applauding his courage (even though he still cheated on his wife) and were urging Sakshi to move on already (as if moving on from a 20-years-long “happy” marriage was that easy).
And while time, approximately 7 months, did heal some of the wounds, I liked how human Sakshi was shown to be in His Storyy. She’s happy for Kunal finally being true to himself, but she still needs more time to really move on from what they used to have. I smiled when she found a man who was really interested in starting a new life with her.
Even though I have talked a lot about Sakshi, don’t think Kunal didn’t get screentime. It’s just that such queer narratives don’t usually focus a lot on women like Sakshi. So, I wanted to first write about what I appreciated the most when watching His Storyy.
Coming to Kunal, Misra did an impressive job playing a character caught between two worlds. He wants to keep his family with Sakshi and their kids, but he also wants to be open about himself and live with Preet. Along with trying to mend things with Sakshi, he also has to worry about reconnecting with his eldest son, Shivaay (Nitin Bhatia), who is a homophobe and a bully at school.
Along with focusing on Sakshi and Kunal, the kids got their moments, too. Now, writing about kids in a show that’s more adult-targeted can be difficult. The creative team tries to give the teens personal arcs, but I think it could have been handled a bit better. However, having said that, I did like some of the narrative threads.
Through Ved (Anmol Amir Kajani) we get to see a young boy trying to figure out his sexuality while living with a father who wants him to be a “proper” man. Ved’s also the one who Shivaay bullies at school even though they are neighbors and their parents are friends. At a certain point I thought Shivaay might have a crush on Vid, but, fortunately, this show didn’t go down such a problematic trope. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ved ends up being bisexual. I say this because of his interactions with his friend Jhanvi (Rheanne Tejani). I think he might have a crush on her. Here’s to hoping Jhanvi gets more to do in the second season.
Shivaay’s storyline shows that there will always be people out there you can’t reason with. No matter how many conversations you have with them, they will continue being bigots. And at that point, there’s no reason for you to keep reaching out to them. Maybe they will change with time. Who knows? But for your mental peace, don’t waste your energy trying to get through to such people. If this show does return for a second season, I’m looking forward to seeing how Kunal and Shivaay’s relationship progresses.
Kunal and Sakshi’s neighbor Nihal (Rajiv Kumar), who is also Ved’s father, also gets a similar storyline. He’s a bigot and he will remain a bigot until he decides to change for the better. The finale did show that a reason he’s in denial about his son’s sexuality is he fears for his son’s wellbeing growing up in a homophobic society. So, there’s still hope Nihal might fully support his son as the series continues.
I do think His Storyy did a good job of not being too preachy and deciding not to give everyone a happy ending. The conversations between characters were balanced, in my opinion. This web series showed that 100% LGBTQ+ acceptance at this point in life is unrealistic. Even if the queer community has received rights in India, a number of people don’t want anything to do with the queer community regardless of what the law says.
As for how things ended in the finale, I do feel the entire debacle was unnecessary and it did Preet no favors. I’m not even sure what happened. He was quite out-of-character during the finale, especially because he’s the one who wanted Kunal to be more open about their relationship. The entire thing came across as something the creative team thought of doing to give viewers a cliffhanger in hopes of getting a second season. It was just weird.
Anyway, keeping the final couple of minutes of the finale aside, His Storyy is still a very bingeable show (each episode being around 22 minutes long) that showcases the experiences of the queer community (and their families) in India and how relationships and being true to yourself don’t come easy to everyone. The narrative handled a lot of sensitive and taboo issues quite well as it raised a mirror in front of a society that’s all about brushing certain issues under the rug and yet allowing the queer community to live as they want is something said society just can’t deal with.
The entire first season of His Storry was made available to stream on Alt Balaji and Zee5 on April 25, 2021.
Go watch it.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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