Hansal Mehta and Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul’s Scoop arrived on Netflix earlier this month and got the internet talking about the series’ depiction of the state of media today and the hunger for content amongst Indians that makes them believe in anything that is fed to them with conviction and some noise.
Scoop is based on Jigna Vora’s biographical memoir Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison. It follows the real-life story of Jigna Vora who was accused of the murder of mid-day reporter Jyotirmoy Dey in June 2011.
Jagruti Pathak, a prominent crime reporter, who is to defend her innocence as a narrative built on assumptions, and patriarchal theories constructed by the media and some of her colleagues who strongly believe that she was quite capable of using her contacts to tip off a gangster to get rid of a senior colleague who worked in the same beat as her.
Scoop is tangled around the underworld mafia and its intersections within various sectors; strongly reflects the truths of everyday patriarchy. When things go south, these same sexist conversations are utilised to build a narrative of lies that can scar a woman and her family forever.
A lethal combination – single mom and a successful co-worker
Jagruti is shown to be a unique concoction, she is fiercely competitive and street-smart and is a single mother who is a breadwinner for her entire family which comprises three generations. Her character is not shown to use her child as an excuse to not turn up for work emergencies, a stigma often associated with motherhood at work and in our society, which is at times created by the woman herself in some cases. She has a strong support system – which not all women often have – but it is Jagruti that is constantly on the run to ensure she gets the best out of her career to give her son and family the life she dreams of.
The fact that she manages a complex beat like crime and competes with a much senior colleague like Sen from another organisation to get the best of scoops is not valued by her peers, who only have sarcasm and sexist assumptions to disregard her achievements. The fact that she has had a steady rise, is attributed to her quality of getting confirmations for her exclusives from high-level sources – mostly men – by her very own work colleagues.
These are colleagues who have seen her grind, and make it to a cabin before themselves and hence would like to give excuses for their lackadaisical attitudes towards their inability to match up to her competence over a couple of drinks. Pushkar, who is a witness to his wife facing sexism and gender politics at her workplace, is seen subjecting his work kin to the same, so much so that these casual assumptions make their way into a court case investigation.
Jagruti and a few of the nicer work colleagues are seen to be aware of these theories about her but have chosen to ignore them over the years, which lead to the same banter creating a case to damage her trial at court later, especially by the media.
These theories are shown to play havoc with the mind of a junior journalist, who is made to believe that Jagruti has probably used her gender as a trump card to get work done and her success has nothing to do with her meritocracy. Deepa is later shown the picture at her second company, where her hunger to get a byline makes her cook up a half-baked story which gets rejected by her then-editor-in-authority – the same company where she sold Jagruti’s story to get a job.
Scoop and workplace sanity
Corporate workplaces come with their challenges for all genders, but women, who know their job and are managing a personal life often get remarked to the extent of having their character assassinated every single day over a cup of tea by their colleagues.
In Scoop, suppose Jagruti was a man, she would have been given titles like “street smart,” or “super achiever,” but alas that is not the case. Her not-so-conventional life of being a single mother in a relationship, her feisty attitude, late hours at work, and having contacts across various sectors – attributes that would have been applauded if she were a man – make her topic of gossip and witch-hunting by her colleagues.
These small talks, which often get ignored at work, construct a larger reason for stress, and toxicity and hamper growth at work leading to women dropping out of workplaces to choose unconventional setups like working from home, maybe freelancing, opting for home businesses over corporate roles.
India is on the cusp of surpassing China to become the world’s most populous country, and its economy is among the fastest-growing in the world. But the number of Indian women in the workforce, already among the 20 lowest in the world, has been shrinking for years.
Experts opine several reasons like women being considered to be primary caregivers for elders and children at home, dropping out of work to support a higher-earning male member in the family, health issues, lack of support to complete domestic chores, safety at the workplace amongst others to be the reasons behind these statistics.
A woman super achiever is a myth!
A hardworking woman only demands the same acknowledgement, perks and respect that her male counterparts receive and that often gets lost with the domestic baggage that Indian women employees carry. Those women who manage to cut through these social and household barricades are then looked at with suspicion because it almost becomes impossible to believe that women too can have it all!
Men and sadly even other women tend to overlook the hard work and try to attribute these successes to unrelated factors. We are so used to cornering women, pushing them to sacrifice their work for several other reasons, that we aren’t comfortable seeing them at important discussions asking questions, working to achieve materialistic milestones like our male counterparts.