A Web Series Exploring The Often Toxic Connection Between Career And Identity In India

A Web Series Exploring The Often Toxic Connection Between Career And Identity In India
Ye Saali Naukri

What defines us? Is it our language? Our culture? The place we come from? Our aspirations? Our work? Who defines us? Are we capable of defining ourselves or do expectations adulterate our perceptions? And if we do define ourselves, is it really independent of the narratives of society? If not, are those narratives still in control of our identities?

These are the questions I’m left with after watching 'Ye Saali Naukri', A web series by Mumbai-based Civic Studios. Marketed as a story about a government job aspirant, the series is an essential question about identity in disguise. It challenges the norms of Indian culture in a way that truly has the potential to transform the core beliefs of its targeted demographic rather than just be a subject of mental masturbation for intellectuals.

Ye Saali Naukri, that has already got over a million views, is brought to you by Pocket Change, the YouTube channel of Civic Studios. It’s also available on the streaming platform, MX Player. The character of Raviranjan, the protagonist, is played by actor-influencer, Sanyam Sharma, and Mughdha Agarwal plays his love interest. It’s directed by the Channel head of Pocket Change, stand-up comedian and writer, Kaviraj Singh and written by Somnath Karmakar.

"After successfully curating 80+ videos on our YouTube channel, we are excited to share ‘Ye Saali Naukri’ — our first original web series. It is a fresh take on the journey of lakhs of government job aspirants in our country, as they navigate through personal and societal pressures.”
Anushka Shah, Founder - Civic Studios

Spread across 4 episodes — Rangbaaz, Parishram, Avroh and Prateeksha, the series takes us through the different stages of the life of a student whose only focus is landing a government job. It ties the expectations of his family and girlfriend to the aspirations of the middle class. We see the change in Ravirajan’s personality as the struggle grinds him down; from a charismatic vlogger who unboxes textbooks on YouTube to a depressed young man who has lost his light. Raviranjan's father tells him that life isn’t a long story but a series of short ones; so it’s okay to win some and lose some as long as you move on to the next story. But Raviranjan finds himself wondering how to live when he’s stuck in the one grand story that has attached itself to every aspect of his life. The series paints a resonant picture of aspirants preparing for an OSC exam and the dark turns their lives take in pursuing a government job.

What Ye Saali Naukri is not about is the dreams of youth or the hard work and resilience required in competitive exams or victory through commitment. Though it uses that theme as a vehicle, the point it's driving at is the intention of that outlook. At the beginning of the first episode, a senior aspirant tells Raviranjan and his friends that landing a government job isn’t about money or prospects but self-respect. As the plot unfolds, the series slowly dissolves that belief. It makes us question why a job is tied to a person’s respect.

We derive our entire agency from the environment around us. In India, that environment reeks of low self esteem, like we’re nothing when we’re born and only through certain achievements we can begin to become something of value. A government job is that something. It is understandable that the middle class, having witnessed poverty, craves for financial stability that a government job offers, but what it takes away in return is irredeemable. The enormous pressure we put on our children suffocates their spirits for life. They’re robbed of their creativity and industrialized into a faulty, ruthless system that destroys anything human in them. The stories about Kota will tell you that I’m not exaggerating. In their teenage years, that are supposed to be an inspiring time, children feel that ending their lives is easier than confronting their parents about choosing a different path. The ghosts of expectation and disappointment surround them even after they manage to escape the rat race for artistic pursuit. It’s nothing less than gruesome.

Ye Saali Naukri urges us to question this culture, that values academic and professional accomplishments more than human life. Through the piercing power of television, the series pushes us to rethink the factors that we let affect our identity and liberate ourselves from these narratives that aim to create an obedient, homogenous society. It begs us to define our own selves and nudges us towards autonomy; true autonomy — of being who we want to be.

You can watch the web series here.