Some might call it the proverbial ‘Punjabi Tadka,’ but the territory I am referring to is perhaps the most hostile and argumentative on the face of earth. It is even more quarrelsome and cantankerous than the ongoing game of thrones in Punjab and America. Yes, it is that crazy zone which is best avoided. But then there are adventurous people who not only broach it with all guns blazing, but go ahead and make videos of it.
Yes, I am talking about Ssumier Pasricha aka Pammi Aunty of Delhi who has dared to tread the saas-bahu vitriolic, videos of which have gone viral on the social media. So much so that he is the new superhero of every Indian daughter-in-law. Well almost!
Though history tells us that there has never been a winner, and never will be, in this game of upmanship, the insane popularity of his videos, however, reveals how eager the world is to jump into this combat zone; especially, when the battlefield happens to be a Punjabi household. It hardly matters if it is in Canada, United Kingdom, America or Greenland. A slice of Pammi Aunty resides in almost every Punjabi mother-in-law.
According to Ssumier, Pammi Aunty is an insecure lady, who feels that she has been wronged in life, and that her daughter-in-law will take away her son from her. Why I dared to venture into this hazardous space, even though life is peaceful, is because, these Pammi Aunty videos have invaded my household like no one’s business. And their invasion seems to be a never-ending saga. Not a day passes when Pammi Aunty, who has a face pack and hair rolled up in rollers, is not heard whining with her friend Sarla Bhenji on a phone about her daughter-in-law nicknamed MBA – Maha Batmeez Auraat.
And so close to the truth is Pammi Aunty’s Punjabi accent and acerbic that almost every Punjabi mom-inlaw (MIL) and daughter-in-law (DIL) is feeling eternally connected to it.
So, has Ssumier succeeded in uniting these two traditional rivals? Maybe yes, since both have these videos on their ‘WhatsApp’ and relate to every dialogue. The MIL recounts what she went through as a DIL and how she is ensuring that her DIL is put through the same compulsory rigour. And there is DIL relating to every word of the training that she is undergoing. Men feel linked to it anyway... if you know what I mean.
So who is this Ssumier, who has made kitty parties and their ilk so much more fun and gossipy? Of course, he is an actor who has worked in various teleserials and advertisements, but it is his Punjabi upbringing that has inspired him to enact this daring act.
“All Punjabis know what goes on in their households and relate to these titbit ego fights, and my house is no exception,” says Ssumier whom I met over Skype last week. “In fact, as kids, we used to play saas-bahu game, and I used to play the role of a mother-in-law. Perhaps my grandmother (daadi),” he says laughing.
Ssumier’s family originally belonged to the undivided Punjab, and that’s where he gets his Punjabi accent from. After partition, they moved to Amritsar and later Delhi, where Ssumier was born. Educated at Modern School, followed by an MBA, the lad set about finding his calling in the creative world in spite of his father being a wealthy Punjabi businessman in the Capital. His, “velleyaan wale kaam,” as his father would term it, saw Ssumier experimenting with his creative juices very early in life, and Pammi aunty is an outcome of some random stuff he shared among his friends on ‘Snapchat’ and other social media.
“I tried an icon, which I call the Pammi Aunty icon, and pasted alongside it a line ‘main tey thak gayi pochey maar maar, meri noo tey kam nayi koi kardi,’ after which people laughed.” The positive response gave Ssumier the confidence that saas-bahu was a hot topic, and he could take his rants further. Started as recently as 14 May, Pammi Aunty, within one and a half month of its launch, has become the new DIL-MIL mascot. Hore ki!