Streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Modern Love: Mumbai is not a series to watch on repeat, but rather to savor at its own pace: The Tribune India
A cast of celebrity directors, a slew of talented new and veteran actors, and an adaptation of the hit New York Times column and Amazon series Modern Love. So what do you get? As expected, a mixed bag and many shades of love, from taboos to those of the great institution of marriage, but in which every take on love and relationship establishes a heartfelt connection.
Six one-hour stories seem to have a common thread, that of the connection of hearts, some in solitude. So, My Beautiful Wrinkles has Sarika as Dilbar and Danesh Razvi as Kunal connecting, yes sexually too, despite a rather huge age gap of 30 years. The director of Trust Alankrita Shrivastava, to talk about the sexuality of women, yes of seniors too. As the elderly but still beautiful Sarika and handsome Danesh Razvi meet in a tutorial session where she gives advice on how to ace an interview, the chemistry between the two is palpable. Alankrita, however, does not cross the line and plays it safe and leaves the relationship in the realm of fantasy. As Richard Bach would say, “true love stories never end”.
But some do as in Baai by Hansal Mehta. Same-sex love surfaces and can easily be counted as one of those rare stories that not only normalizes the gay relationship, but strikes more than one emotional chord. The malleable face of Pratik Gandhi as Manzu whose family believes “being gay is a one-way ticket to hell” reflects all the emotions there are to love, forbidden by society. Her love partner is played by chef Ranveer Singh Brar who makes an endearing presence in the theater world. Tanuja as the great matriarch of the family is impressive, although the episode has an unwanted reference to communal riots. Since Manzu happens to be a singer, we have a whiff of a beautiful song Kaisi Baatein Karte Ho – composed by Jeet Gannguli, enhancing the beauty of same-sex romance that is slowly being accepted in India.
Love stories and how can music not elevate storytelling? Here we have some melodies composed by Nikhil D’Souza, Ram Sampath, Vishal Bhardwaj, Jeet Gannguli, Neel Adhikari and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. If music is the food of life, love and food are interconnected in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Mumbai Dragon segment. It brings the Indochinese community of Mumbai to life in a savory story (and we were just not talking about the flavor of Chinese food) in which local talent Wamiqa Gabbi impresses apart from the superb Meiyang Chang and the competent Yeo Yann Yann.
The microcosm that Mumbai is the maximum city unfolds in myriad ways. Cycling over an air bridge in Mumbai becomes a symbol of freedom for a Kashmiri girl in Raat Rani. Fatima Sana Sheikh is a breath of fresh air as the Kashmiri girl Lalzari, abandoned by her husband after ten years of marriage. The main thing is how she learns to be independent. Not a new thought, but how she finds love in her own being and her emancipation in Mumbai is skillfully portrayed by the directorial skill of Shonali Bose.
The broken roof over the head is not only repaired but transformed into a dream come true in a definitive yet allegorical depiction of self-love. Fatima is a delight to watch, both as she longs for her husband and even more as she learns to live her life on her own terms without him.
If Mumbai is a character, the stories have a quintessential Indian twist and don’t seem transposed from another setting. Streamed on Amazon Prime Video, the six-hour series may not qualify as a binge watch. Rather to be savored at your own pace, these make believe in love and as in Masaba Gupta and Ritwik Bhowmik-starring I love Thane (director signature of Dhruv Sehgal), it offers many definitions of love like “I judge me less around you”. ‘
And rising above the routine of married life, Cutting Chai, directed by Nupur Asthana, where Arshad Warsi and Chitrangda Singh take us down the marital pathways of love leaving us with a hazy feeling. “If life is as complicated or as simple as you make it,” so is love, the magic of which resonates in the song Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy Shuru se shuru karte hai. But don’t miss the epilogue, which describes Mumbai above all as the city of hope, which one would dare say is another name for love. Find its shine here.