Just three weeks ago, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti delivered one of the best Hindi movies in recent memory with Gully Boy. There was a lot to adore about the film, ranging from the stellar performances to the great music. However, it’s biggest strength was its refusal to lean on the overused tropes that we have all come to expect from films ‘made in Bollywood’.
If Gully Boy had been any other film, made by someone else who believes in playing by the rules, Murad would have been the one to get arrested on the day of audition and not Moeen, losing out to his mentee would have caused a rift between Sher and Murad, and Sky would have pressed charges against Safeena for breaking her skull. However, none of it happens. The writers knew that Murad doesn’t need any more help from the universe for making things worse. Sometimes, things turn out well without any bumps along the way.
And this thought is reapplied in Zoya and Reema’s second release in less than a month, Made In Heaven.
Amazon Prime’s latest Indian original follows the story of two wedding planners in Delhi. Through their scheming, lying, and, at times, brave and selfless ways, they help join the rich and affluent South Delhi types and their princesses, in holy matrimony.
These two — and the brides and grooms they are serving — often lie to get their way. But like most of us who also lie, cheat or deceive to get by in life, they too do not always get their comeuppance and guilty consciences do not always find closure. Again, much like real life.
Made In Heaven presents the seemingly perfect face of rich Delhi wedding scene, but look beneath the gold and glitter and it is all dauntingly dark. There are parents looking for pure and pious brides for their sons, sons organising beauty pageants to search for brides, brides building their marriages on lies and marriages being bought in exchange for builder flats in Sainik Farms. Everyone is out to score the biggest score, love be damned, justice be damned and self-respect be damned.
The nine episodes, divided episodically between four directors, are told as an anthology with the planners facing a new, peculiar couple and their parents every time. Meanwhile, the protagonists, Tara and Karan (played by Sobhita Dhulipala and Arjun Mathur) and their own struggles with a failing marriage and closeted sexuality make for the thread on which the 9 stories are beaded.
Tara was once an insignificant office secretary who married into a rich South Delhi family. She leaves her life in the ‘gutter’ behind for a world of cheese and wine tastings but it all starts seeming worthless to her as she begins suspecting her husband (Jim Sarbh) of cheating on her. We want to tell her to leave him but in the first episode itself she tells an agitated bride to bear with it all for the in-laws will die soon and the love will fade away sooner but the fortune she will inherit is forever. “Don’t be an idiot,” she tells her. And we guess she is not going to be an idiot either.
Karan is a gay man in 2018 Delhi, living life one unattached hook-up and one monthly loan instalment at a time. He is one police complaint away from spending his life in jail for ‘loving someone from the wrong gender’ and the people he keeps around him do not always make things easier.
While Sobhita and Arjun, Kalki and Jim do a stellar job of keeping the momentum going through the series, other guest actors leave a big impression as well. Deepti Naval paints a warm and hurting picture with her portrayal of a mother wanting to see her disapproving children at her wedding. Manjot Singh’s angry young Sardar makes us root for him, moments after we see him wield a hockey stick to assault a man. Shweta Tripathi’s seemingly shallow bride shows bravery in a moment that few could imagine. There is no dearth of incredibly talented actors like Neena Gupta, Vijay Raaz, Vikrant Massey and others making last impressions with their tiny roles.
However, the kudos that each episode builds up in its hour-long runtime, is marred by an on-the nose internal monologue by Shashank Arora on the depressing state of weddings in India, using heavy terms that would usually hear in a Political Science or Literary Theory lectures. He delivers the moral of the story as he snobbishly snobs away through his camera lens. The whole episode does a good enough job of driving the point home and there is no need to get so literal. It makes every ending cringeworthy.
That little complaint aside, Made in Heaven is a show that will keep you hooked for all its nine hours. Not once did I even want to skip the opening theme but a big credit for that goes to whoever created that stunning piece of music.
The show explores the stories of several recurring and guest characters with a hazy filter on all scenes. Was it a metaphor for the veil that separates their life from ours? That they are the rich and the crazy, the insiders, while we look at them from the outside, judging them silently for marrying their daughters to trees. Judging them and still pinning all their pictures on our Pinterest moodboard, hoping to put it to good use should a crazy, rich millionaire decides to pop the question to us too? Maybe. Or maybe the haziness was simply Delhi’s polluted air.
Made In Heaven review: Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s new show will keep you hooked as it unveils the not-so-pretty faces of the crazy rich few and the big fat lies at grand weddings the whole nation is obsessed with.
Made In Heaven
Creators: Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti
Cast: Arjun Mathur, Sobhita Dhulipala, Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh