Talkhiyaan: Bitterness in God of small things

Talkhiyan is a Pakistani drama based on the Booker prize winning book God of small things by Arundhati Roy. The TV series contains every ounce of emotion in the book and sometimes even more, as it is in a visual form. I rarely come across movies or TV series which are as good as the books they are based upon and Talkhiyan is one of the rare lot. Talkhiyan, meaning bitterness is an apt title to describe the lives of the characters which are so bitter that their bitterness kills them from inside and also infects everybody around. The series is narrated by Zoe or Zoya as she walks back to silver woods after 14 years in search of her twin brother, Jugnoo. The story revolves around Silver woods, a mansion in the woods which seems to be the only constant in the tormented lives of residents of silver woods.

The opening sequences show return of Zoe and Juganoo with their mother, bibi who has just divorced her husband, Paul and returned to the home of her father, of Agha ji. Bibi has had a troubled childhood and you can see the signs of it in the way she perceives things in her life. Agha ji, her father used to beat her up and was nothing but an abusive father. To escape him, she chose Paul, who was an alcoholic and was lying drunk on the corridor of the hospital when the twins were born. Bibi has an insurmountable extent of bitterness which is difficult to be filled with compassion. Compassion, which every single resident of Silver woods lacks.

 

Bibi’s mother, Mama is a character that you will always sympathize with. When she is being abused by her husband, agha ji or when her son, Janu baba belittles her with every passing episode. She has no control over the people living in Silver woods though she earns for the family with her Silver pickles. She feels lost and you can sense that her sense of identity comes only from her husband and her son.

Appu ji is Agha Ji’s sister and she is like that typical women who have “queen bee syndrome” and won’t let women around her to be happy. She doesn’t let bibi remain in peace when she comes to Silver woods after divorcing Paul. She wants her to marry again and leave Silver Woods as soon as possible, considered the fact that she has herself spent all her life there, without marrying anyone. She loves Agha’s friend, a father in a nearby church and writes “I love you” in her diary when she misses him. This pricks bibi and she even labels Appu Ji as a hypocrite who didn’t marry for love and then accusses bibi for pursuing her love. Appu ji is highly intolerant towards Zoe and Juganoo and her hatred drips from every sentence that she says.

Janu Baba is back to Silver woods after divorcing his wife, Margret, who has married another man named David. Janu Baba is everything that you’d imagine a patriarch to be and her character is perhaps the personification of everything that is wrong with the male dominated society. While he moves around carelessly, without being judged for being divorced, Bibi is questioned by every other person and even sympathized for having divorced Paul. The business ideas of Janu Baba are well received and encouraged while Bibi is discouraged from pursuing anything. The maid, Aai is used by Janu Baba to alleviate his loneliness and surprisingly, Mama and Appu ji support it with full heart. You will notice the kids, Zoe and Juganoo fighting like adults with their arguments and this all gives a perception of how dysfunctional families give rise to kids who aren’t socialized properly and they hold these feelings for greater part of their adulthood.

There is a small role of Monty who seems to be the person who can add some sweetness to otherwise bitter lives of people of Silver Woods, but he also comes with a purpose, a purpose of marrying Bibi so that she can produce children for his first wife who cannot bear a child. You can sense it from Bibi’s behaviour that she doesn’t trust Monty with her full heart and though he promises a world of security, happiness and fulfillment, she is sceptical. Sceptical about the fate of her children or about herself, for being a second wife to Prince Monty. Upon realising the ulterior motives of Monty, Bibi loses faith in love and companionship. And the lyrics that “don’t ask for the stories of my love, assume that I didn’t love him” seem so apt for this particular situation.

Janu Baba has casual one night stands with workers of his factory and nobody except Bibi feels it’s unethical and support him because it’s a tool for him to gaining companionship. This shows control over sexuality of women while giving a free hand to men to use women for their pleasure. But a woman cannot be vocal about her needs and doing so bring shame to the family. The same happens when Bibi develops proximity with a worker at her home, Balu. Balu is shown as a character perfect for Bibi, her kids love her, she loves him and adores his companionship but he is a worker after all…..

There occur different turn of events and the lives of people from Silver Woods turns upside down and Balu is killed amidst that. Bibi has to leave Juganoo and Zoe and she dies alone with her misery, her incomplete life, a life devoid of love and care, just like her father.This series is something near to perfect with excellent cast and narration. The characters seem like themselves in the screen and the development of the characters has been done with finest details. The background score adds to the emotions of the scenes in the episodes. The emotions have been portrayed in a subtle manner which will make you live with that character. The direction is effective and the despite setup being simple, the narration seems so real and lively.I wonder why aren’t similar TV series aren’t made in India anymore, adapting the books so well.

Sure, there are some coming up on Netflix but they are mostly thrillers and action series, I love drama and would like to watch it on screen.

Have you read God of small things? How did the book treat you?

Let us know your thoughts below

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