The superhit Hindi comedy show FIR spanned over eight years and had more than one thousand episodes. Kavita Kaushik played the role of the lovable, confidently loud and confident Haryanvi Sub Inspector Chandramukhi Chautala. Alongside Kaushik, we saw actors such as Kiku Sharda, Ali Asgar, Gopi Bhalla, Aamir Ali in lead roles. Their contribution made FIR one of the longest-running sitcoms in the country.
FIR brought on many changes to Indian television. For starters, it was the first ever Hindi sitcom that revolved around the lives of policemen. Secondly, it gave us a woman who played the lead in the comedy genre. The woman was independent, lived life on her own terms, and wore aviators while riding a bike! In 2006, this was a breakthrough of sorts.
Now that I think of it, Chandramukhi Chautala showed us who a boss woman is before we even knew of the word. If just like me, you have watched almost all the episodes of FIR and know how Gopi’s broken English spans through the episodes, you would agree. She handled not only the cases that came to the police station with ease (mind you, she solved all of them) but also her colleagues.
There was the Head Constable Gopinath Gandotra who always waltzed in late to work. Then there was Constable Mulayam Singh Gulgule who talked and ate a lot. And finally, Constable Billu who would often forget things in a Ghajini-esque style but Chandramukhi had to deal with him because he happened to be the brother-in-law of the commissioner. In short, they were masters of their own will.
And that’s not all. Chandramukhi also had to deal with people who came to file an FIR. These included sleazy men who would shamelessly flirt with her because she was a woman, men who judged her capabilities because of her gender, and even women who thought she could not understand their woes because she was unmarried.
However, like the boss woman she was, Chandramukhi Chautala commanded respect. She maintained respectful boundaries but at the same time, she wasn’t the strict boss. Gulgule called her ‘mummy-ji‘ out of respect. Gopi knew he would be put back in place if he ended up speaking a lot (it’s a different story that he never learned his lesson). And the senior inspectors knew they could trust her with the work.
The cases that came to Imaan Chowki were as serious as cases of kidnapping to as frivolous as a case against a barber for a bad haircut or a wife’s complaint about her husband’s excessive snoring. FIR was peak no-brain situational comedy. However, Chandramukhi Chautala gave her equal attention to all of them. With her sidekicks, she cracked these cases with her whim and wit.
Media depictions portray police and crime as a man’s playground. Despite all this, Chandramukhi Chautala owned her space in the man’s world. Her character showed the problems women in positions of authority often face. What made Chandramukhi Chautala a boss woman was that she was assertive. None of her colleagues were women. Unfortunately, she had to do double the work in order to prove herself worthy of that position of authority she held.
She remained balanced throughout. Some cases tested her and pushed her to the limits yet she maintained her integrity. She said what she felt when it came to her colleagues and even pushed them to do better. She would often push Gulgule to come up with an ingenious or an out-of-the-box idea to solve the cases.
Like many shows back then, FIR had instances when the men would peddle their sexist remarks. But Chandramukhi shut them down and the men would instantly realize that they had crossed a line. She schooled Gulgule and Gopi.
Chandramukhi Chautala was fearless and loved to take risks. But at the same time, she was empathetic towards her colleagues. She was confident, intelligent, honest, devoted to her work, and truly, one of a kind. I mean, what’s not to like about this fierce boss woman?