- Critic's Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
They say – “Marriages are made in heaven which we solemnize on earth”.
But is it really that effortless a cakewalk? This is what the first web series created by the audacious duo of Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti talks about.
After taking the nation by storm with their recent ‘Gully Boy’, the fever of which is still ceasing to leave me due to the way it taps the ambitious ‘Murad’ in everybody; Zoya – Reema here give us an insight into the world of “richies” with their usual relatable characters. If you thought that stuffing your mouth with pastries as guilty – eat was too first – world (remember Shefali as Neelam Mehra in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’!?), so here they have shown some affordable candies (literally those cheap “toffees”) to your rescue in the hour of want (not need).
Set in New Delhi, far from the world of Bittoo and Shruti of ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ (which is geographically impossible though), the story takes us through one of the phases of personal and professional journey of two wedding planners Tara and Karan (this name has a reason). These complex souls try their best to save the weddings they organize, besides saving their own company from crashing; while mending their individual relationships crumbling back home.
On the surface, the weddings they organize are all about grandeur, royalty, squandering of money with budget in crores, making way for their profit in lakhs. Though as soon as one tries digging deep, which the writers Zoya – Reema – Alankrita wonderfully have; the world we get an insight in comprises different reasons for saying a “Yes” – for the luxury offered by the opposite side, or under political pressure, or under societal or family pressure, or to hide self’s sexual orientation, or to fulfill one’s dreams of “Vilaayat” (read : Foreign). This all in the end boils down to making these luxurious ceremonies a mere pompous declaration of alliance : an alliance of compromise. While meticulous detailing has been done for most of the part, some side – tracks were hushed away quite abruptly (Nevermind).
Trust the pair of Zoya – Reema to deliver an ensemble high on detailing, be it in a rural setting or urban one, with simultaneous exploration of several themes at once through journeys of several characters, whose worlds may or may not cross at some juncture in the narrative. Here too, under the direction of talented directors Zoya Akhtar, Nitya Mehra, Prashant Nair, Alankrita Shrivastava, each character has been written to make way for a mature exploration of atleast one sensitive theme. In the end product, while some characters get their perfect arc, sadly some of the characters seem subjected to a step – child treatment. So while we see a much mature handling of a sensitive theme like love and life of homosexuals, which is the one of the best portrayals ever of the same; it feels like a forced attempt was made to depict drug issue, as it loses track midway to never see a return.
As much credit the writers deserve for writing the characters with so much care and detail, the actors too deserve their share of cake for masterfully displaying the emotions of their respective characters on screen. Though shot through the lens of cinematographer Jay Oza (his another hit after Gully Boy), we see most of the proceedings through of lens of Kabir (Shashank Arora), who shoots for company ‘Made in Heaven’. Certainly, he is the most sorted and sanest of all these characters in this dysfunctional world. Besides Shashank’s natural act, I also loved how by being behind the lens, his part gets to serve as the narrator towards the end of each episode to convey our eventual takeaway from the scenario.
Kabir works with the team heads Tara and Karan. The character Tara Khanna, brilliantly enacted by Sobhita Dhulipala, much resembles Zoya’s previous female characters. She, like Ayesha (Priyanka in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’), has her in – laws and husband perpetually reminding her of their “progressive” minds as they let her work. Like the ambitious small – town girl Sona (Konkana in ‘Luck By Chance’), she gets a sequence to do her self – musing towards the climax of episode 8. Her top shots on bed, with her being lost in her thoughts at night, resemble to those of Safeena (Alia) from Gully Boy. Still, it’s all in the writing and her performance that makes her all different, proudly holding her own.
Karan Mehra (Arjun Mathur) is the professional partner of Tara and shares an admirable platonic relationship with her. Why their bond can never be like ‘Bittoo’ and ‘Shruti’ has already been taken care of in the writing, so no worries there! What is more amusing about Karan, besides the breakthrough act by Arjun Mathur, is his name, which seems straight a homage by Zoya to her dear friend – Karan Johar. No, not for those professional power or those stereotypical antics of the ‘Dharma’ honcho, but for being an impenitent vocalist with no fear accepting self’s sexual orientation. Both Karan and Tara have their flashback moments, fitting perfectly and organically in the narrative, like pieces of a puzzle. A sheer delight to watch, these give us a substantial insight into what did it cost them into being what they are a soul at present.
Few minutes into the drama, joining the team is Jaspreet (Shivani Raghuvanshi) – a girl from Dwarka in Delhi who likes to be called “Jazz” in South Delhi. She is self – aware of her world, and thus low on self – efficacy. These lines said to her sum up her mindset of how she sees herself from the lens of others – “Koi South Delhi may kaam karne se wahan ka nahin ban jaata!”. With all praises for her acting, I found her character the most underwritten. It had a sort of unconvincing arc, mainly for the case of drug abuse issue she briefly fights against, which gets shelved abruptly. Her moments with Kabir are what I loved, but again, an ambiguish ending to their dynamics leaves me disgruntled, as what I wished for was different.
To make the prime cast only stronger are Jim Sarbh and Kalki Koechlin (a clear Zoya favorite!). Both receive their due credit with a deserved share of screentime and well – written characters, the realization of which got me much elated. Also, they both share a lovely chemistry. Jim here does drop that accent everyone otherwise stereotyped him in, escalating his charm.
Supporting the natural performances of the lead cast in their brief appearances are the ever reliable Vijay Raaz, Vinay Pathak, Vikrant Messey (again a Zoya favorite), and Ayesha Raza. Vijay Raaz as Jauhari Bhai gets a scene stealing moment in a sequence with Arjun where the latter asks the former about the treatment to be given to a molester. Only Vijay can deliver such dialogues effortlessly and generate hoots.
Ayesha Raza plays Renu Gupta, a wife trying to get in shape to please his disinterested husband Ramesh Gupta : indeed a memorable performance by Vinay Pathak. This Renu again got me back to how Neelam (Shefali in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’) was also mocked at by her husband Kamal (Anil in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’), to eat less for the sake of her body shape; but both these wives end up stuffing their mouth with the sugars they could afford as per their individual standards. Big shoutout to those actors too who play the younger versions of Karan (Saket Sharma) and Nawab (Shalva Kinjawadekar) – a mature and responsible act by them both.
Spanning over 9 episodes collectively running for over 7.5 hours, this web series on Amazon Prime is a sheer visual and audio delight. After irresistibly binge – watching this one in awe of the way it manages holding my attention throughout with its detailing, I can’t say much about the pairs that get hitched in the narrative, but can safely endorse that the creative duo of Zoya – Reema is ‘Made in Heaven’!
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