Sex Chat with Pappu & Papa
Cast: Anand Tiwari, Kabir Sajid, Sachin Pilgaonkar
Director: Ashish Patil
Studio: Y Films
Rating: Four stars
The very first episode of Sex Chat with Pappu & Papa starts with Pappu, a child no older than ten or eleven, jogging up to his father with a pressing question, “Papa, yeh masturbation kya hota hai?” Anand Watsa (Anand Tiwari), the papa in question, is expectedly shocked. At this stage, you feel you have tuned into a fictional retelling of Kids Say the Darnest Things, and Pappu really is precocious. The web series certainly relies on his sexual curiosity for its humour, but what sets it apart, what saves it from wink-wink nudge-nudge prurience, is the candour and frankness with which Anand meets his son’s inquisitiveness. This is sex education at its best and also at its funniest.
The method and metaphors used by Anand Watsa are never patronising. He doesn’t underestimate his child’s intelligence, nor does he distrust him with matters that would make adults – his own father in particular – squirm. To explain masturbation, he gets Pappu (Kabir Sajid) to think of Jack and Jill. Jack, he says, had a bat and Jill had a ball. Jill went away, so Jack was forced to play cricket while imagining Jill at a bowler’s end. Penetrative sex and pregnancies are explained just as deftly. Anand compares his “male organ” to a USB chord. Pappu promptly asks, “Itna patla?” By the time you’ve gotten over that chuckle, Papa has already inserted the chord into a USB port and gone far beyond that initial birds-and-bee conversation. Young parents are advised to sit holding a notebook.
The first three episodes of Sex Chat follow one format. Pappu asks uncomfortable questions and Anand gets over his conditioning in his effort to be an honest friend to his son. Anand’s father, Vishwanath Watsa (Sachin Pilgaonkar), keeps popping up out of nowhere, as a barista or hospital patient, dissuading his son from divulging too much. As an imagined apparition, he prescribes that “sachai” be coupled with “sanskar”. Karna and Jesus, he feels, should be the stories one should cite when explaining reproduction. Anand, who has saved his father’s name on his phone as ‘Mogambo’, will have none of it. “Is mein sharmane ki kya baat hai” is a constant refrain as he chooses openness.
Portraying three male generations of a family, Pappu, Papa and Daddu have all been brilliantly essayed by the show’s actors. Ashish Patil’s direction is hard to fault, and even though the script written by Gopal Datt and Devang Kakkad sometimes forsakes entertainment for information, the importance of Sex Chat can’t be undermined. The show isn’t prudish. It uses the words ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ with a kind of responsibility that should be widely imitated. Anand, at one point, says that when he was a child, he picked up a condom from the street and blew it like a balloon. After Pappu sees a television advertisement for flavoured condoms and asks for condom candy, his father has to intervene. (There’s a great joke that plays on the words ‘charge’ and ‘discharge’. I’ll let you watch it.)
By giving the family the surname ‘Watsa’, the show is clearly tipping its hat to Dr Mahinder Watsa, a sexologist, who even in his nineties, continues to answer sex-related questions that the readers of Mumbai Mirror have. These queries might sometimes be banal and ridiculous, but Dr Watsa never once loses his patience or sense of humour. Sex education, he has always stated, must start when your child begins grappling with those larger mysteries of life. Sex Chat remains true to that spirit.