This post was originally published on our partner website India.com.
Asmita Ghosh and Anukripa Elango, two seniors at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai, created a social media wave with their music video “Be Our Pondati.”
Ghosh and Elango uploaded the video as a submission for a college parody contest, Sir Mix-A-Lot. They parody Carly Rae Jepsen’s superhit song “Call Me, Maybe.” “Be My Pondati” when translated, means ‘be our wife.’ Their friend, Krupa Varghese, plays a mother on the hunt for a bride for her son.
The song is great for several reasons. We narrow them down for you:
1. Using the phrase ‘aunty/uncle’
In the Indian culture, instead of using Mr. and Mrs. to address strangers, people use the words uncle and aunty. In the video, a woman who is dressed to be the aunty is the lead. It’s the perfect depiction of the aunty every Indian is familiar with.
The video is simplistic, making it unique. It’s in front of a beige wall with a red wedding sari. A single woman is featured with lyrics appearing in white. The video is easy to digest and that’s part of what makes it effective.
3. Lyrics and Vocals
The lyrics in the song were written and sung by the two women, Ghosh and Elango, who shot the video—and they are both super creative.
The women who sing have melodious voices. They took the time to plan each step from start to finish and have done a great job at it. This speaks to their work ethic and the value of giving 110 percent to your pursuits.
The video speaks to a larger issue in India: the matrimonial ads and societal expectations that come with it. Of course, not all women are expected to get married and have babies right away or become eternal housewives. However, there is a sizable majority of women whose lives are expected to revolve around their husbands and their in-laws. Women are judged based on their skin color, ability to run a household, and make perfectly round ‘chapathis’ (Indian bread). The video also talks about thin, fair girls which speak to the issue that some Indians feel the need to bleach their skin with creams like Fair and Lovely just to be considered beautiful. It is also vastly hypocritical because often the aunties looking for brides are not thin, fair girls themselves.
Any matrimonial ads, especially the creepy Facebook propositions for wives, often depict women as property or a prize. The fact that two college students are taking a stand against these ads, poking fun at larger societal issues in India, and have made a viral hit speaks to their intelligence and also our need to consume such content. It also speaks to the fact that women have so many other opportunities available to them, such as college, education, and content creation. Marriage ads are fine—normal, even—but they need to change their trajectory to reflect the current society and need to reflect women as equals.
The son in this video is praised for his MBA, two Mercedes he owns, and shoe size 10. None of these material things are even equivalent to what the women are held accountable for. It’s time to change standards that men and women are held to, and it starts with a video like this.
Chhaya Nene is a tenacious journalist and actress based in Los Angeles. Nene recently graduated with her Masters as Valedictorian from USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism and enjoys covering all types of news beats, especially hardnews, lifestyle, art & culture. Recently, Nene worked with Sir Patrick Stewart in his new pilot ‘Blunt Talk,’ and with Gisele Bundchen in an internationally broadcast fashion commercial.
In an age where algorithms dictate viewership, Nancy Jay uses her love of dance to propel herself onto TikTok’s “for you” pages. Jay is an Indo Guyanese, Bronx native who began dancing at the age of three. As an influencer and content creator, she amassed a social media following of more than 500,000. Versed in many styles of dancing including Caribbean, Bollywood, urban and Latin, Jay can be spotted in soca music videos such as Linky First’s “Rock and Come in” and “Jeune Femme,” Adrian Dutchin’s “Roll” and by soca king Machel Montano’s “Mami Lo Tiene.”
Many content creators are typecast into the niche but Jay has defied this norm and proclaims she is more than just a dancer.
“I dance, travel, post lifestyle and beauty content. I’m an Indo Caribbean woman who enjoys being myself and promoting my culture. I like showing viewers it is okay to be who they are and embrace what they look like, despite what they see on social media. I did not plan on being a TikToker. As I started posting videos, the love and support I received from viewers was amazing. I have never experienced anything like that before on Instagram, where I started my content journey,” Jay said.
In conversation with Jay, the following answers have been condensed for concision and clarity.
Why is it important for you to create content related to your Indo Caribbean roots?
Growing up, I never felt represented as an Indo Caribbean on television, in movies, social media or anywhere else. My goal as a content creator is to promote the Indo Caribbean culture through my content and be the representation the Indo Caribbean community needs.
Are there unspoken rules about being a content creator or an Indo Caribbean woman on the platform?
Being an Indo Caribbean woman on TikTok can be challenging when you are trying to find your identity and do not feel represented.
Jay explains her frustration with the lack of Caribbean representation and acknowledgment from platforms, as well as her goals as a content creator in this video.
Do you ever experience a block, similar to writer’s block, when it comes to creating content? How do you overcome that?
I have yet to experience a block. However, I do have days where I want to take a break and just relax instead of filming. As a content creator, it is important to take breaks and schedule days to just relax because being a full-time content creator is a 24/7 business. It can be draining and you may lose your sense of reality when you have the mindset that everything is content. I enjoy taking a day or half a day to cook, watch TV or go shopping with my partner without the worry of filming any of it.
How has your social media presence changed your daily life?
When I am in public, supporters approach me to express their love for my content and sometimes ask for a selfie. When I find people staring at me in public now, it’s most likely because they recognize me from social media and not because I look funny.
In May of 2021, I used my platform to reach out to brands and ask for their support in a project I named ‘Nancy Jay Gives Back.’ I put together care packages, using products donated by brands, and drove around the Bronx sharing them with people experiencing homelessness or those in need. Seeing the happiness on their faces upon receiving these bags was priceless. Additionally, I spread some extra joy through dance. I remember one lady telling me she’d never been to a club or party so I told her I’ve brought the party to her and we danced to her favorite genre of music right there on the street.
Jay plans on continuing this project as her social media presence has grown.
How has your family reacted to your social presence?
My family has always been supportive of my talents and the path I have chosen. My first public dance performance was at the age of 12. I performed a fusion of Bollywood and chutney music at middle school events. When I got to high school, I participated in our talent show to a fusion of Bollywood, chutney, soca and top 40. I won the talent show three or four times. I also performed for fundraisers organized by mandirs in Queens, the Bronx, weddings, sweet sixteens and other social events.
My family always came out to support me. They love seeing my content and always encourage me to film and create. My mom in particular tells everyone about my TikTok videos.
While enrolled at John Jay College, Jay founded the first West Indian student organization called “West Indies Massive.” She captained the dance team, taught dance classes and won the talent show multiple times while pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice with a minor in law and police studies.
Any advice for creators who may not have the support of family?
Do not let this discourage you. If content creation is something you truly want to do, stay consistent and eventually your family will support you for doing what you love. Social media is still new to some and the idea of it being someone’s career or business is new as well. I say be patient. Also, talk to them about your social media goals, as perhaps they do not understand the full picture.
What is your dream partnership and why?
My dream partnership would involve acting. I’ve always wanted to be an actress, preferably a Bollywood actress because I know I would kill those dance numbers (haha!). Also, I would love to partner with Sandals Resorts and bring that Caribbean flavor they should be promoting.
Jay has collaborated with major brands like Samsung Mobile, Norwegian Cruise Line, AC Hotels, Disney Music Group, and Dunkin which is paramount for the Indo Caribbean community.
“I am the first Indo Caribbean woman to work with Norwegian Cruise Line as a content creator. Cruise travel is a huge part of my content journey. I love cruising and creating unique experiences and content. While cruising, I connected with the crew while most people typically do not. I treat everyone with respect,” Jay said
“I started a fun series called ‘Cruise Dances with the Crew’ back in August of 2021. There’s a playlist on TikTok with all of the fun dances. Prior to my first video, I had not seen anyone dancing on cruise ships with the crew. I guess you could say I started that trend.”
Nancy intertwined this partnership with her content and further put herself on the map.
Another pivotal partnership for Jay occurred in March 2021 when Dunkin chose her as one of 10 from a nationwide competition to feature her signature drink on the local menu.
How has content creation changed in the past two years?
Within the past two years, my content and style has grown tremendously. My gear list has also grown tremendously. I’ve been a content creator full time for a little over a year now. I have had more time to focus on the presentation and editing of my content.
What else do you want your viewers to not know about you or your work?
I stay true to who I am. Supporters who I’ve met in person can attest that I am the same, in-person and online. I like to keep things relatable, fun and authentic. I am working with a lot of big brands. I try to incorporate dance in all my content to capture my passion, diversity and culture.
I started teaching Caribbean Dance Fitness classes and private dance lessons officially in 2016. Since Covid, I moved everything online. Not only have I helped many learn how to dance but I have also helped build their confidence through dance and expression.
Lastly, I love traveling and encouraging others to live their best life.
Jay is more than a dancer; she is unapologetically herself. She maximizes opportunities and is building a brand that highlights her Indo Caribbean roots – a culture often not highlighted in mainstream media.
November 27, 2023November 27, 2023 5min readBy Aysha Qamar
“Sort Of” fans are having all the feels as the iconic, non binary-focused series is coming to an end with its third season. The show, currently streaming on CBC Gem, has paved the way for broader conversations on inclusivity, representation and just existence.
“Sort Of” is a heart-warming story that challenges traditional labels by depicting a character who encompasses several marginalized identities.
Sabi Mehboob — a non binary, gender-fluid millennial — is the youngest child in a large Muslim Pakistani family. Throughout the series, we follow Sabi’s journey in empowering themselves and refusing to fit into a mould for others’ comfort. The series reminds us how labels impact people and how they must not define people.
Sabi is played by award-winning Canadian actor Bilal Baig, known for being the first queer, South Asian and Muslim actor to lead a Canadian prime-time TV series. Baig not only stars in the groundbreaking and award-winning sitcom, but has also directed and co-created it.
The show however, hasn’t reclaimed praise just because of the community it focuses on. It’s the authentic, personal and funny storytelling that leaves a lasting impression. “Sort Of” resonates across all genders, races and ages, with the stories within it being relatable universally despite how one identifies.
Baig and co-creator Fab Filippo announced the show’s third season would be its last in a heartfelt social media post in October.
“We know how much the series means to a lot of you — it means so much to us too,” the statement read. “We set out to tell a story about a kind of transition in Sabi’s life, and how those around them also change — and we feel in this coming season that story came to an end in a way that felt right for us.”
“We’re aware that series like ours, shows that feature queer and trans characters, tend to get cancelled early on, and we know that’s been happening a lot recently. We want to say that’s not what’s going down here. We made this third season knowing it would be our last. … We’re also aware that this show is ending at a time when trans communities continue to be targeted and trans rights are being constantly attacked. Our hope is that this series can continue to affirm lives and spark conversations well after the final season drops. Sort Of will always exist, despite all the transphobia in our world.”
Reflecting back on the statement and decision to end the show in its third season, Baig shared that they and Filippo felt the story had come to its “natural” end.
“When you look at all three of the seasons together, I think it will feel like we’ve captured a really specific moment in time and in Sabi’s life, as well as, the other characters around them,” Baig said. “That felt right.”
Season 3 of “Sort Of” picks up right where Season Two ended: the sudden death of Sabi’s father. While undergoing the stages of grief, Sabi is also processing their romantic life including the aftermath of their kiss with Bessy (Grace Lynn Kung). The season is filled with big life choices for Sabi and is all about “transitions,” Baig said, in an exclusive chat with Brown Girl Magazine.
Speaking of the season’s big moments including how Sabi deals with grief and what happens after the kiss, Baig said “it felt kind of cool to let it end there.” They added that the story is meant to feel “real and authentic” and continuing it would “feel false.”
“Much of the feedback I get is from people who say, it feels like we’re watching real humans talking to each other. And to uphold and maintain that quality, I feel like three is a good number.”
Baig reiterated that playing Sabi “has been such a gift,” adding that the character “felt refreshing from the start.”
When asked how the role differs from other queer and trans roles on screen, Baig noted that Sabi’s complexity and humor in the show was “intentional” and based on real-world experiences including conversations with both trans and non binary friends.
“It’s like representation for the quiet, exhausted by the world, people who totally exist in the queer and trans community.”
“It always felt like our representation was either we’re not talking because we’re being killed or we’re these super political activists, who are educating everyone around them — which is all real — but think about somebody who doesn’t say everything they’re thinking, who has a lot of feelings but doesn’t speak on it all the time. We don’t always have to be sassy and witty or fabulous.”
The dark humor in the show “humanizes Sabi” and is “the way into so many peoples’ hearts.” Baig added, noting that humor often helps one process the trauma they are carrying.
While many have questioned whether or not Sabi’s character was based on Baig’s own life, Baig confirmed they are not and addressed the fan-based rumors noting that Sabi is relatable because of the obstacles they face and the many identities they hold.
Baig identifies as a queer, trans-feminine, while Sabi is non binary or gender fluid. Baig shared that playing someone who is “guarded” and not “super trustworthy” had been fun and in the last season especially, Sabi goes through a “transformation” that speaks truth for many “vulnerable and marginalized people.”
The show was able to capture “how transition looks like for so many different things for so many different people,” Baig pointed out, speaking of the small and big life experiences we follow Sabi on.
“It’s not one thing; it’s not only defined by whether you want to change things about yourself and your body or not…it’s so much more nuanced than that.”
Speaking to the identities Sabi holds, Baig said they wanted to depict “multiple different kinds of trans and non binary bodies and experiences” that they felt were “lacking in media” or “not being represented at all”
“We’re not all the same. We’re different and evolving, just like cis people are.”
Baig added that while intentional, the identities of these characters were not hard to develop “because it just felt real and right.” They also lauded the team behind the show, noting that it included several people of color, women and non binary folks.
“Cis characters are presented alongside trans characters,” Baig said. “We are a part of this ecosystem and we cannot be erased.”
When asked about the challenges and current climate of how trans and queer people are treated, Baig shared that it “has been challenging” to work on projects like this and shared how assumptions associated with people “at the intersection of any identity” can be problematic.
They also spoke of the statistics associated with trans people, often negative or fatal. According to a report by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights group, at least 33 transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been killed in the United States since November 2022.
Baig noted that working with a team that is diverse and accepting is what helps lift the weight off the constant heartbreaking news.
Sharing their gratitude for their team, Baig noted that making the show’s atmosphere and environment safe was a priority to ensure “people felt like they could really be themselves and come to work fully as themselves.”
In terms of a takeaway from the season finale, Baig said that they hope people internalize that “we’re all transitioning” whether or not our transitions look the same. Believing that will create “more empathy towards trans people.”
The feedback from the microphone gratingly penetrated the vacant bubble I had fallen into after watching yet another performance by the youth, educating us on the benefits of Jainism. I had been daydreaming of the skits I had put on as a child, remembering the diligence with which I memorized my lines. “Why did I?” I wondered. I never truly knew what these skits were about. I knew the plot, but they all felt a little too neat to me.
Every problem had an answer; every story ended triumphantly. Victory over evil. Good deeds are rewarded. Back on stage, I saw an auntie wrapped in a sparkly red sari walking to the center of the stage, her hands folded together graciously. “Let’s put another hand together for these children!” she said, gesturing behind her. Some children sheepishly peeked out from behind the curtain. “And let’s thank their parents. Parents, it is your responsibility to bring your children to the temple. Without your involvement, our children will not know the correct way to live. It is your duty, your dharam.”
Glancing over at my mom, I could see her eyes clouding as she clapped. The weight of that word was not lost on me, and it certainly wasn’t lost on my mother. Dharam felt like a heavy word. To me, it felt like it somehow encompassed morality, duty, and culture all into one. Many religions have a version of dharam, they all define it differently, but it always seems to boil down to the same idea: a guide on how to live one’s life. I felt like it was interpreted in a much more rigid and arbitrary manner. The skit highlighted waking up early, not spending too long on your phone, and doing your homework as dharam. Growing up, some of the whims of my parents: not staying out after dark, spending too much time with our friends versus our work, and being obedient, also fell under the umbrella of dharam. Dharam was being diluted.
Dharam, when broken down into its roots, means ‘to support’. But often it would feel like the opposite of this, suffocating with heavy expectations that seemed to grow with each year. What did it mean to be a good daughter, good sister, or good person? How had a guide on how to live life turned into the only correct way to live at all?
I remember telling my mother I wasn’t sure I believed in religion anymore. My mom was driving me back from the temple, and it no longer felt peaceful to me; no longer felt right. Walking around after the pooja, speaking to all of the aunties and uncles…I felt out of place. All of them told me how lucky I was that my parents were such pillars of our faith. They forced me to promise that I would come to the temple every time I was in town when I knew deep down that I wouldn’t. It felt wrong lying; it felt wrong to pretend that I was religious when I wasn’t anymore.
My mother’s nostrils flared, but she kept her eyes on the road. She increased the speed of the windshield wipers even though it was only drizzling slightly.
“How can you say that? How can you reject a god that has given you so much?” she fumed. “You know nothing about Jainism. You know nothing about what you are just throwing away. You don’t know how lucky you are to be born into this religion.” I let her fume. My change of heart hadn’t come out of thin air. I hadn’t prayed in years. I only went to the temple for my mother’s sake. Deep down, I think my mom knew I didn’t have a strong attachment to my religion anymore, but she didn’t want to admit it. Maybe she thought dragging me to the temple would somehow make it habitual for me; a part of my routine. But religion cannot be forced, and no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t work for me.
Maybe part of the shock of my disbelief was the fact that secularism feels non-existent in India. Indian soap operas emphasized the proper actions of a good daughter-in-law, wife, and mother, and villainized those who deviated from traditional roles and values. Even progressive shows such as “Anupamaa,“ which shows a housewife divorcing her husband, entering the workforce, and creating her own dance studio, showed that divorce is only acceptable in extreme circumstances. Failing to impart these values to your children is viewed as a failure in your role of a good parent.
But my mother is an amazing mother. She raised me to learn to question the world around me. She fostered the importance of working hard and being humble. She taught me to be a good person and care for others, not because I was obligated to by my faith or karma, but because it was what I should do. She supported me and taught me to support others, which I believe is the meaning of dharam. She did not fail her dharam as a mother, but because of how dharam was presented to her, she will never know that.