Chuski Pop Is A Podcast Series Created By Two Desi Girls & Is Unapologetically Feminist AF

We’re always on the hunt for great podcasts, books, documentaries, short films, web series, feature films, media publications, and basically anything medium that amplifies the voices of people who have traditionally been excluded from conversations, or not given a seat at the table.

Of course, this is generally women, people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, differently-abled people, and basically any marginalized group that is is not cis, male, hetero and white. This is not about telling men we don’t want to hear their voices, it’s that we want to hear all the other voices being left out of the conversation in equal measure. Because it’s about time. And thank goodness for digital media which is making it even easier for people to raise their voices and share their lived experiences.

Our new fave podcast is ‘Chuski Pop’, a fortnightly series created by two Desi girls, Sweety and Pappu (pseudonyms) in 2015 as a way to create space for the lives of women in the Desi community. Both women are of Indian origin and have spent time working in the Middle East. Sweety is a graphic designer who met Pappu, a copywriter, in the summer of 2014 and both launched the project together.

The name comes from the brand of popular icy pops in India, and the creators decided they would make for great symbolism for their new feminist venture.

“To me, Chuski Pop represents childhood nostalgia. But in the hands of a precocious Lolita, it turns into something dangerous and suggestive all because in our primarily patriarchal society any phallic-shaped fruit or food can mean only one thing. I imagine myself and Sweety as precocious Lolitas sucking hard at our kalla-khatta and kachi-keri flavoured golas, giving zero f**ks but plenty of death stares to tharki uncles,” said Pappu.

“Yes, it’s supposed to be sexual and suggestive because I wanted to take the sexual narrative back into the hands of desi women,” added Sweety.

The two women decided to remain anonymous and use pseudonyms because, as they explained to the Indian Express, their experiences and stories are relatable to any number of desi women.

“I think it’s immaterial of who we are, what our names our or what we look like. We could be that girl in the train, waiting at the bus stop, in your class or practically anyone,” said Pappu.

They also remain anonymous for safety reasons. The well-known phenomenon of women, especially feminists, who have a presence online and dare to speak their truth, are often harassed, stalked, threatened and intimidated simply for using their voice. Given that they are based in the Middle East, they don’t want to jeopardize the lives of their families and instead make it all about their content. Which makes this podcast even more important in the desi girl community at large.

So instead of images of the hosts, listeners and social media followers are treated to 80’s imagery of iconic Bollywood actresses, not necessarily known for being empowered on screen, but with feminist sayings and phrases added to the picture, courtesy of Sweety’s graphic design skills.

As Fiza Jha at points out, throwing it back to older Bollywood icons was also an intentional way of sending a feminist message.

“As fondly as the duo remembers old movies, they are quick to judge how sexism and misogyny were a huge part of storylines, particularly in films from the 1980s and 1990s. Representations normalized sexual harassment, patriarchal gender norms were constantly reinforced and unrealistically idealistic ideas of love and marriage glorified.”

Sweety added that it is quite jarring to see rape scenes as standard fare in many of the older Indian films, yet the idea of showing a man and woman kiss was utterly taboo and almost never seen.

The duo say they started the podcast to represent a specific demographic of women of color in a way that other well-known feminists such as Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer have not been able to. Sweety and Pappu admire desi feminists such as activist and poet Rupi Kaur, and Lilly Singh who is easily one of the world’s most popular Youtubers right now. But they are also mindful of being exclusionary and want to ensure their space is an intersectional feminist one.

“I feel as desis we have a tendency to be inclusive of other cultures that wouldn’t necessarily be inclusive of us,” said Pappu.

This emphasis on intersectionality became heightened even more after the Women’s March on Washington, which went global, and brought up necessary dialog about giving women of color and marginalized women a seat at the table alongside white feminists who have always been credited with much of the success of the women’s movement at large. The way black women are speaking louder than ever before here in the US about their consistent and often discredited work for women’s rights and racial justice, for desi women feminism has given them an important voice in society now too.

“South Asian women face discrimination not only because of our gender, but also on account of our culture and society – both at home and in the global arena,” said Pappu.

“The Internet is a great platform for the voiceless and now more than ever, brown woman needs to be loud. From childhood we are told how to behave and we aren’t as worthy or valued as men. This podcast is to let everyone know that we’re here, and we’re not going anywhere,” said Sweety.

The topics they discuss range from careers to relationships, body issues and beyond, where listeners get to hear personal anecdotes as well as feminist perspectives that are subverting many traditional conservative expectations many desi girls are accustomed to.

The hosts also laud Bollywood celebrities such as writer Arundhati Roy, actors Kalki Koechlin and Kangana Ranaut and even male comedian Tanmay Bhat, all of whom have been loud and proud about their feminism in various interviews and media appearances.

The podcast is available to download on iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher, and we highly recommend you do this! In our quest to become a digital space that continually explores feminism in a more intersectional way, we want to encourage our readers to do the same. Learn about other people’s lives, especially those who have typically been silenced, but are now raising their voices loudly. The description of the podcast on the website sums up why we love ‘Chuski Pop’.

“Two Desi chicks riding the fourth wave of feminism in our salwar kameez and golden heels, while flipping the bird to aunties and bringing you stories from far-away lands and from our own matru-bhumi. Tune in to our podcast every second Saturday to hear us share our adventures, staying woke and generally not going gentle into the night…Not sure if you like us yet? Bish, we like your BFFs here!”

Leave a Reply