Readers Write In #70: Why is everyone so impressed with Made in Heaven

Posted on March 18, 2019

22


Spoilers…

Made in Heaven has somehow become the toast of the season. Almost everyone I know who watches Amazon Prime, has been raving about it; and a quick glance at the critics’ reviews across the gazillion media outlets across India, indicates that they too have been impressed. I scratch my head, and not because I did not have my shares of pleasures watching this 9 part long series. Sure, the scale of this production is  as expected, opulent and classy. The performances, especially from the sextet headlining the series, are brilliant. Some of Arjun Mathur’s, Sobhita Dhulipala’s and Jim Sarbh’s vacant stares still continue to haunt me in a manner that only those who have been plagued by urban angst will understand.The series is undeniably witty, and the dialogue is predominantly English, with a fabulous smattering of Hindi and Punjabi, that comes across so much more organic than the forced Hindi-fication of movies from Excel Entertainment. There are genuine thought provoking moments. And then, the shots of the nostalgic lanes of Delhi, even if only a tiny part of them.

What then made me draw back from the gushing crowd. Possibly the fact that the 9 weddings showed through the 9 episodes are being made to look like some kind of a never before seen expose on rich, upper middle class people and the shining (un)reality of their existences. Or, a colleague of mine telling an unmarried colleague that she would feel more like not wanting to get married after watching Made in Heaven. Really? Don’t we already know that ‘Mangliks’, irrespective of how ‘modern’ they are, covertly, get married to trees. Self-proclaimed altruist IAS officers do not shy away from demanding hefty dowries. Grown up children do not necessarily have to be accepting of the new partner their senior citizen mother has found for herself. Marriages in some families are only political alliances and there is nothing personal about them. Royal families have many skeletons hidden inside their royal legacies. Women can be manipulative to make their way up the ladders, and men can be vulnerable. Why does all of this suddenly become some kind of a revelation.

I am reminded of all the Madhur Bhandarkar movies for some reason, where people were ‘proud’ of him for exposing the ‘evils’ in the society. And unlike, MB, Zoya Akhtar and co. do it in style and with panache, with loads of wines, and loads of sophisticated  male-male and male-female copulation. The multiple references to ‘ruling’ party and one of the protagonists, suddenly turning a crusader for gay rights, probably make this look like it is also politically and socially conscious, the organic-ness of the writing be damned. I also kept thinking of Monsoon Wedding, which worked on a similar high-level premise, but was much more consistent in what it wanted to show, mainly because its focus was limited to that one family and ‘their’ secrets. Made in Heaven, on the other hand, goes for higher aims. And given the response, and the impact it will likely make to an international audience, who will be ‘shocked’ to discover this ‘new’ India, it  will probably achieve its targets.

But how I wish, this was more of the gentle ruminations of Luck by Chance and less of the convenient prophecies of Zindagi na Milegi Dobara. My favorite part of the show was the one where a young NRI bride, after having cheated on her hot-headed, foolish and equally young groom, decides to never tell him about her dirty secret, because ironically the very cheating makes her realize she loves him and more so respects him, to not want to lose or hurt him. So, so many possibilities here, but nothing that followed matched up to this promise. These are the kind of stories I was looking for, and probably am disappointed, I did not get.

(by Prashila)