1. Chuski Pop
Creators Sweety and Pappu (aliases) are “just two Indian chicks riding the fourth wave of feminism in salwar kameez and golden heels, while flipping the bird to aunties”. They wanted to create a space where they could voice their feelings. “Desi women come from a culture infused with misogyny. Our goal is to emphasise that there’s strength in numbers, and that equality is worth fighting for. It’s the perfect time to ride the wave and be bold and unafraid,” says the duo. Apart from episodes on topics like arranged marriages, the importance of financial independence for women, and menstruation, they also air ‘views on news’ episodes called Aaj Ka Kabootar. “It’s a mixed bag of stories with a healthy dose of pop culture, Bollywood, and pressing news items.” Of the duo, Sweety edits the episodes and creates their trademark posters. “We want to celebrate women who held their superstar status in a male-dominated industry. This also influences the art of Chuski Pop—bright, saturated colours that are reminiscent of movie posters of that era.”
2. Maed In India
Launched in 2015, Maed In India was recently picked as one of Apple’s Best Podcasts in India. “The mission was to create a platform for indie musicians to perform their songs, and speak freely about music and artistry. Today, it’s also an archive of unreleased music,” says Mae Mariyam Thomas, the Founder. So far, she has released more than 170 episodes, and featured artists from genres like hip-hop, blues, soul, folk, punk, and rock. While the focus is primarily on music, gender politics and feminism become a part of conversations. “MC Manmeet Kaur talked about being a woman in the hip-hop scene. She doesn’t dress like a hip-hop star or adhere to stereotypes. So what makes her different also brings her animosity,” Mae says. That’s the DNA of Mae’s show—it not only features some of the best indie musicians in the country, but also gives you an insight into their lives. “At the end of the day, the more you know about a person, the more you’re intrigued by their craft.”
3. Culture Chaos
In 2017, Isha Soni created Culture Chaos to narrate her experience as an Indian immigrant. “Female immigrants often find themselves in vulnerable positions, because they are dependent on their family for visas, employment, and finances. Add to that cultural isolation, challenges with assimilation in a new country, and the pressure to raise a family. As someone who has faced these issues, I wanted to be the voice of other South Asian women with similar experiences,” says Isha. She discusses everything from gun control and racism to home-cooked food and childhood memories. “One of my favourite episodes is Why I Love My Indian Accent, where I break the myth that most NRIs talk in acquired accents. There’s also an eight-minute long episode on the pressure cooker: one vessel Indians carry with them no matter which part of the world they move to. In essence, anything that’s a part of an NRI’s story finds a place on my podcast.”
What started as a Facebook Page in 2017, is now a podcast that’s introducing intersectionality in the mainstream, predominantly-white feminist discourse. “We wanted a platform where we were in control of our own narratives, and could talk without being silenced or tone-policed. Initially, there were three of us, but it’s now just two. We have kept the third position open as a symbol of representation for every brown girl who feels unheard,” say Sammie Lewis and Erica. Apart from brown feminism, social climate, and societal issues that plague marginalised communities, they also share stories of personal struggles. “My favourite episode, so far, is the one on sex positivity. It’s something I struggle with, so it was a real challenge (in a good way) to discuss it openly,” says Sammie. Their future goals include expanding and starting an organisation that collects funds and resources for women of colour, in need.