- 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 simple 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 tapped 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 now they have shown some affordable candies (literally those cheap “toffees”) to your rescue in the hour of ‘want’ (and not need!).
Set in New Delhi, far from the world of ‘Bittoo’ and ‘Shruti’ of ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ (This 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 human souls try their best to save the weddings they organize by any means, besides saving their own company from crashing, and mending their individual crumbling relationships back home.
From the surface, these weddings are all about grandeur, royalty, squandering of money with budget in crores, making way for the profit earned by the duo in lakhs. Though as soon as when one tries digging deep, which the writer trio of Zoya – Reema – Alankrita wonderfully has; 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 own’s sexual orientation, or to fulfill own’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 still ended abruptly (Nevermind).
Always trust the pair of Zoya – Reema for delivering an ensemble high on detailing, be it in a rural setting or urban one, with simultaneous exploration of several themes at once through portrayal of journey of several characters, whose worlds may or may not cross at some juncture in the narrative. Here too, under the direction of talented director quad – 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. Sometimes, the exploration of the characters’ worlds is done through flashblack sequences, which are an absolute delight to watch. In the end product, while some characters get their perfect arc, sadly some of the characters were subjected to a step – child treatment. 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 felt like a forced attempt was made to portray drug issue for a brief screentime, as it gets lost midway only, to never see a return henceforth.
As much credit the writers deserve for writing the characters with so much care and eye for detail, the actors (each one!) deserve their share of cake too for masterfully executing the emotions of their respective characters on screen. Though shot through the lens of cinematographer Jay Oza, we see most of the proceedings through of lens of Kabir (a natural act by Shashank Arora), who shoots for ‘Made in Heaven’. Certainly, he was the most sorted and sane of all these characters in this dysfunctional world. I loved how being behind the lens, his part gets to serve as the narrator towards end of each episode to convey the eventual takeaway from the scenario.
Kabir works with the team heads ‘Tara’ and ‘Karan’. The character ‘Tara Khanna’ (a brilliant portrayal by Sobhita Dhulipala) has much more to it, though resembles Zoya’s previous female characters. She, like ‘Ayesha Mehra’ (Priyanka in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’), had her in – laws and husband perpetually reminding her of their ‘progressive’ minds as they let her work. Also, like the ambitious small – town girl ‘Sona’ (Konkana in ‘Luck By Chance’), she gets her sequence to do her self – musing towards the climax of episode 8, just like Konkana did in climax of ‘Luck By Chance’. Her top shots on bed while she’s lost in her thoughts at night resemble to that of ‘Safeena’ (Alia) from Gully Boy. Still, it’s all in the writing that makes her all different, holding her own.
‘Karan Mehra’ (Arjun Mathur) is the professional partner of ‘Tara’ and shares an admirable platonic relationship with her. Why they can never be like ‘Bittoo’ and ‘Shruti’ was already been taken care of in the writing, so no worries there! Now, what is more amusing to me about Karan (rather than the breakthrough act by Arjun Mathur) is this name – ‘Karan’, which seemed straight a homage by Zoya to her own dear friend : Karan Johar. No, not for those professional power or those stereotypical antics of the ‘Dharma’ honcho, but as an impenitent vocalist who has no fear accepting what his sexual orientation is. Both ‘Karan’ and ‘Tara’ have their flashback moments which are pure gold. Giving a great insight into what did it cost them both into being what they are a soul at present, all of these fit perfectly and organically, like pieces of a puzzle.
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 what she saw 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 whole brief drug abuse issue she fought against, which got shelved abruptly. Her moments with ‘Kabir’ were what I loved, but again, an ambiguish ending to their dynamics left 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 got their due credit with a deserved share of screentime and well – written characters. The realization of the same got me much elated. Also, they both share a lovely chemistry. Jim has dropped that accent everyone otherwise stereotyped him in, better a charmer.
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’ got his scene stealing moment in a sequence with Arjun where the latter asks the former, the treatment to be given to a molester. Trust only Vijay to deliver that dialogue effortlessly and generate hoots.
Ayesha Raza played ‘Renu Gupta’, a wife trying to get in shape to please his disinterested husband ‘Ramesh Gupta’ : an indeed memorable a performance by Vinay Pathak. This ‘Renu’ again got me back to how ‘Neelam Mehra’ (Shefali in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’) was also mocked at by her husband ‘Kamal Mehra’ (Anil in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’), to eat less for the sake of her body shape, but how both these wives ended up stuffing their mouth with the ‘sugar dishes’ they could afford as per their standards. Big shoutout to those actors too who played the younger versions of ‘Karan’ (Saket Sharma) and ‘Nawab’ (Shalva Kinjawadekar) – very mature and responsible portrayals by them both. Plus, I can’t wait for the digital release of its soundtrack which is an absolute treat to ears.
Spanning over 9 episodes collectively running for over 7.5 hours, this web series on Amazon Prime is an absolute visual and audio delight. After irresistibly binge – watching this one in awe of the way it managed holding my attention throughout with its detailing, I can’t say much about the pairs that got hitched in the narrative, but the safely endorse that the creative duo of Zoya – Reema is ‘Made in Heaven’!
Also Read : Sonchiriya (2019) Review | Addressing the haunting reality amidst the blazing guns
Also Read : Revisiting ‘Highway’ (2014) | My 5 Favorite Scenes