The Ziddi Feminists of The Mahilla Collective are making waves through their slice of life podcast. Here’s our exclusive conversation with them
We learn, we unlearn and we relearn, and that’s how the process of Feminism is. Always evolving. Always exploring new conceptions and changing with every passing day and time. And hence this process of understanding feminism can be really confusing and overwhelming for all, just as it is for the women of The Mahilla collective Podcast – the clueless, confused and overwhelmed twenty-somethings. The ziddi Mahilas, Apurva, Parina and Shruti are all the most relatable feminists OWN have chatted with and hence, we would love to introduce them to you.
While these best friends may think and talk about the same things, they are a potpourri of wildly different personalities who would have every 20 something relating to them.
Apurva is working as a data scientist in the IT hub of India, and also loves to paint and read. Knowing she is a feminist since she first read the word, her recent learnings have been towards making feminism intersectional and inclusive. TMC has been a way for channelising her feminist awakenings and hopes to always be a voice for the movement.
Parina is a techie at an investment bank and is passionate about making the internet more democratic. Coming from an all-girls convent school in a small town, she describes herself as a ‘recovering idealist’. By rediscovering an old love for reading in the pandemic, she feels she has gained new perspectives on feminism and society which find their way into the podcast episodes.
Shruti is currently working at a consulting firm, primarily in the agriculture and food security sector. A passionate environmentalist, she finds solace in caring for her many house plants. She is a huge movie buff, which is also why each of TMC’s episodes will inadvertently have a million pop culture references, for their undeniable influence on our society and childhood.
When three like minds meet, magic is supposed to happen. And so it did happen with the birth of The Mahila Collective Podcast. The podcast was conceptualised, hosted and produced by three women, who started their journey together into adulthood as roommates in the same engineering college. In each episode, they question their conditioning and discuss how they navigate life as ziddi “feminist types”. With this podcast, you will find real conversations and relatable stories that make you feel like you’re not alone in this journey of learning and unlearning, as they discover and reimagine relationships, society and politics.
The podcasting journey of The Mahilla Collective (TMC)
Team TMC: TMC released its first episode on 31st December 2020 – in a bid to become a “2020 pandemic passion project”. However, the journey started over 4 months back.
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Each of them individually started listening to podcasts in the pandemic itself – we were told it’s a productive way to do our chores. However, in all the content that we were consuming, we felt a lack of representation of our sensibilities, culture and ideologies. Hence -as cliche, as it may be- we felt that our 3 AM conversations deserved to be recorded and put on the internet for everyone to listen to.
Podcasts are still at a very nascent stage in our country, while most are run by established media houses and celebrities. So as amateurs it was also quite challenging to figure out the “how”, coupled with a month-long ordeal for coming up with a name.
Going back to our motive for starting the podcast – the pandemic had been revolutionary in many ways. Staying home we were unprecedentedly exposed to everything happening around us, and staying ignorant was no longer an option. Amidst all this, we realised how we were constantly learning and unlearning. So much of our initial conditioning was getting unravelled, as we adopted new ways of looking at things. This became their motive – to let others like them know that they weren’t alone on this journey of learning and unlearning.
We were always careful to not position ourselves as experts or authorities on a subject. Each episode is thoroughly researched over weeks, and also draws from our lived experiences, biases and observations around it.
How are podcasts like The Mahilla Collective creating an impact?
Apurva: It is hard to gauge the impact our podcast can create, but each and every DM/ text we get after an episode is a victory in itself. The response we get is an indication of how many people feel amazed by certain ideas.
After our very first episode “Sexism and Schools”, we did expect our female audience to reach out to us with anecdotes of their own but what surprised us was the male audience telling us how they never realised it was this bad. This, coupled with other feedback showed how important it is to get stories and lived experiences out to make people stop and think.
Shruti: TMC and other “all-female” podcasts are also significant because they bring to us a novel female perspective, which is often missing from the public sphere. Diverse topics from activism and news to movies and money – when explored from a female lens give us valuable insights into ideas beyond our own existence.
Parina: With podcasts, you get to learn from varied perspectives that we often miss out on in our algorithm-driven social media bubbles. Only when you listen to diverse life experiences do you become aware of your privilege, begin to introspect and take action.
Listening to podcasts such as Respectfully Disagree and Anurag Minus Verma – we were made aware of how our reality is different from others and began to question a lot of our conditioning.
Team TMC: Our aim was never to preach or provide a list of action points because we ourselves are not experts, but only to make people question things they took for granted and start conversations they were not having. Change can not happen if you provide people with a to-do list, we as a society need to acknowledge and agree that a change is needed and move together towards a collective goal. Our biggest win perhaps was when a listener reached out to a guest to apologize after having heard an anecdote mentioning him.
We have also begun to realise how creating this podcast has been helping us grow exponentially. From developing the discipline to manage a passion project alongside our full-time jobs to become more cognizant of problematic things around us, creating this podcast has been the greatest learning experience.
Stream The Mahilla Collective Podcast here.