A brand new web series called “Romil and Jugal” has been making waves online. It’s a modern-day take on the story of Shakespeare’s two star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. The only difference – this series has a gay couple at its centre.
Since its release a few days ago, Twitter users have been gushing about the show and its two protagonists:
Romil and Jugal gives me butterflies in the stomach. I love them so so so much. Uff. Thank you @EktuEkta for this beautiful love story!
— Priya (@SRK_PC_my_jaan) April 18, 2017
— vignessh (@vignessha) April 18, 2017
— ASHFAQ. (@MrBaesic) April 18, 2017
— juilee desai (@JuileeD) April 16, 2017
The first episode was released on April 15, through the YouTube channel ALTBalaji. Wait, did that name sound familiar? That’s because it’s Balaji Telefilms’ online streaming platform. Yes, the same Balaji Telefilms that has been a major household name in Indian soap operas. But “Romil and Jugal” is definitely an “ALT” side of Balaji. It leaves behind the outrageous plots and absurd character life-spans that we’ve all come to know (and love?) about Ekta Kapoor dramas. More than that, it is stepping into territory that is largely uncharted for the average Indian viewer – a story about two men in love with each other.
Audiences could certainly do with a show that humanizes queer characters, rather than stereotyping them, and a storyline that focuses on the relationship between Romil and Jugal is likely to give them that.
The series is three episodes in, but has already left an impact on its viewers, many of whom are eager to see a second season. But as well-received as the show has been, there do seem to be a few things about it that need discussing. For example, Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is a tragedy, and to seal Romil and Jugal’s fate like that almost seems to suggest that queer people in love are doomed from the start. So, is that how this story ends too? Well, we’re just going to have to find out.