Why The New Amazon Prime Show ‘Made In Heaven’ Is A Must Watch

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Marriages are made in heaven, they say. But, there is indeed more to it than what meets the eye. I have always admired Zoya Akhtar for making films that dig deep and unearth those raw emotions which mostly stand masked in the societal milieu. And she never fails to impress.

Made in Heaven is a nine episode web series that recently premiered on Amazon Prime and is garnering rave reviews from one and all. Created by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Katgi, the show showcases the grandeur and opulence of big fat Indian weddings while bringing out the bitter realities that lurk beneath. The protagonists Karan( Arjun Mathur) and Tara(Sobhita Dhulipala) run a wedding planning company called ‘Made in Heaven’ and while they create the grandeur of a heavenly wedding for the elite and filthy rich Dilliwallas, they become party to a lot more than they are hoping for.

Packed in nine episodes the narration is taut and each episode portrays the team of ‘Made in Heaven’ plan a larger than life wedding only to come face to face with the myriads of social evils that loom large behind those luxuriant mansions and seemingly perfect world of the uber rich.

‘Irony’ plays hide and seek throughout these nine episodes and as ghosts of patriarchy, infidelity, avarice and deceit are brought out from the closet, we also learn about the lives of the protagonists. Be it Tara, the entrepreneur who has founded the wedding planning company and who is perfection personified with her classy attire and chic looks or Karan who grapples hard to come out of the closet, everyone is fighting his/her own battle.

Power, Money and Image are the three aspects which work in tandem and often one or the other takes the centrestage. Respect is non-negotiable but one needs to be practical as well. And we are made privy to the fact that today’s generation is quite sure about what they want, through the stories which are told.
While prepping for the D day of the privileged, the protagonists find themselves struggling in their respective lives as well and often the two lives merge. Tara was once a middle-class girl and has risen from her humble beginnings to become the wife of a business tycoon. She is miserable knowing about her husband’s illicit affair. But, she meanders through as this is what she skillfully worked towards- a life of riches. Little did she know that everything comes with a baggage.

Karan is closeted and has not come out about his homosexuality and is living a life of pretence. But, gradually he gains the strength to stand up to who he is and I loved how the makers have made a strong and pertinent statement about homosexuality and depicted the emotional upheaval of homosexuals in a brutally honest manner but not without an inherent sensitivity.

The supporting cast fits like a fiddle and adds to the storyline. Jazz aka Jaspreet(Shivani Raghuvanshi) brings the perspective of a lower middle class Punjabi girl who is fascinated and taken by the wedding business of the rich. Kabir (Shashank Arora) who is the photographer/videographer makes you go into a trance of sorts as he summarizes each wedding journey in a poetic fashion. You turn pensive and make your own interpretations.

What was most interesting to see was how women are depicted in the show. They are no more the naïve and demure ladies of the past but are sassy, ambitious, practical and times even unabashedly conniving. They are no more vulnerable and we are often made to wonder amidst the fancy frills of the weddings as to why getting married is the end all or so to say the happiest day in a woman’s life. The show subtly even questions the relevance of the institution of marriage. It brings to life some gutsy women- the bride who majestically walks out of her wedding mandap when she realizes that her parents are made to pay dowry, the elderly woman who chooses to get married in the evening of her life, the politician’s daughter who yearns to marry a man from a different religion amidst her parents heinous efforts to stop her. But, then there are also flawed women and seeing these layered characters you often lose the sense of right and wrong which I think is the beauty of the direction.

Whether we choose to shut our eyes or stare through the sunlight, the fact of the matter is that our society is changing remarkably- at times for better and at times for worse. Made in heaven mirrors the Indian society with its follies and foibles and in doing so presents us real people sans any value judgment leaving us ruminating but with a faint smile on our lips.

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For Heaven’s Sake

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The dilapidated three storied building was abuzz with activity and commotion. The air was replete with volatility of sorts and the three men sat on a worn out couch which stood majestically in the living room of one of the houses. Each one waited to set the conversation rolling and put things in motion.

The room cut a sorry figure. A lone window peered at you as if it would whirl in fresh air any moment. But, there was hardly any greenery in the precincts of the building. The air was heavy. The residents had got accustomed to their surroundings and though they cribbed, nothing changed. But, today they had raised an issue, which needed to be addressed as a battle it could ensue.

Lokesh, Keshav and Shankar had come together for an emergency meeting of the residential society which was usually held once every month. But, owing to some unforeseen developments here they were.

Lokesh was your quintessential brooder. He seemed level-headed and smiled at the other two who appeared both cruder and shrewder. Nevertheless he exclaimed in that husky baritone, “So, Keshav, why are we here today? I thought the society meeting was due next week. I am a builder, a contractor. I do not have all the time in the world to come here and listen to your wayward rantings”.

Hearing this Keshav smiled. He was quite a looker this man. He could easily make you swoon and make your heart croon. He turned towards Lokesh and uttered, “Yes, we know you are a busy man. But, this matter needed your intervention. There is utter chaos. Belligerent forces are at play. The people of this society have turned quarrelsome, meddlesome and I no more have any say. I am the President of the society but seldom any heed they pay to what I say…nay”.

Hearing this, the third musketeer Shankar, who sat at the distant edge of the couch, exclaimed, “What exactly is wrong, would you elaborate? I could set things right in no time. Do we need to use force, let me know I could coerce and bring these people on the right course.” He had quite a persona. He wore a tiger print shirt and his unruly hair fell till his shoulder and a grotesque tattoo near his forehead lent him that ‘cool’ look.

“See the thing is that the residents of these apartments are unfortunately at loggerheads. There is a vacant piece of land just outside the building. Now, one of the residents on a whim announced that a temple ought to be built here. But, some people from a different religious sect urged to build a mosque at the said spot. This caused a rift and people grew adrift”, Keshav said frowning a little.

“Why do they these people have to fight over such a petty issue and pray tell me how do we navigate a breakthrough? I cannot stand them casting aspersions at each other. Why not destroy the bone of contention, let us plan an intervention and mete out a full-proof solution”, Shankar said looking at the other two questioningly.

“Religion cannot be tampered with here; the sentiments attached to it go beyond the sensibilities of anyone. When I had built this housing society people loved peace and lived as amiable citizens. But, slow and steadily, brotherhood gave way to forces like staunch devotion, greed and a gamut of filthy notions. At times I wonder, are these the same people who moved into the then shiny homes of the building that I so lovingly built. I often marveled at this project of mine with a hint of pride and thought that I had woven a colourful and exquisite quilt. But, wings of change blew so hard and today my beloved people are falling apart”, Lokesh took a deep sigh and got lost in introspection.

Both Keshav and Shankar looked at each other and instantly knew they would have to take the matter in their hand and restore peace in the erstwhile la la land.
The meeting was called off that day and it was decided that soon they would talk to the people and make the discord feeble.
****************
Two months later…

The same room. The worn out couch. Three men sat smiling, boy they seemed happy one could vouch.

Lokesh started off, “So, I believe peace has been restored in the land and people no more gang. But, how did you trample the hostile voices and left them with a dearth of choices?”

Shankar answered, “They were busy fighting for the said land and looked at each other with scorn while we wondered how to take the bull by the horn. Just then, consumerism spread its wings. The place where religion was to find a seat was now taken over by a rich businessman to erect a swanky mall, with all the shenanigans and blings.”

Keshav laughed heartily at the irony of the situation. Nevertheless, he was happy that the people were no more fighting over religion; in fact they were already dreaming of the luxurious mall and saw a glorious vision.

So, the matter stood resolved. The three musketeers stood up and grinned.
Just then, a smoky halo of sorts surrounded them. The boorish men now metamorphosed into the holy Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and within no time disappeared into thin air.

Tomorrow would be another day in the alleys of the ‘Bharat housing society’.

This was first published here: https://artoonsinn.com/2019/02/20/for-heavens-sake/

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The Tradition

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Dear Vishal,

It took a lot of mental cajoling to sit down and pen this letter. You would ask me why? It is our little Valentine’s Day tradition after all to write letters to each other. So, here I am.  As I begin writing I can almost picture you flashing that crooked smile of yours. How you know that you can always escape my wrath by the sheer power of your gooey grin!

Today, I wonder how Time on its ‘winged chariot’ flew so fast. Time is indeed fickle and leaves us forever wondering about moments which could have been relived, actions which we could undo.

You always tell me to live in the moment and I being an incorrigible pessimist smirk away to glory. But, I am learning to unlearn things and turning a new leaf.

I am sure you would like the ‘new’ me. You have always been the wind beneath my wings and I am forever grateful to you for that.

Forever team V &V

********

Vaani folded the piece of paper which had little poppy flowers imprinted on it. The red flowers seemed to be engulfing the words making a kaleidoscope of sorts. She sighed and rambled laboriously towards the living room.

There he was, smiling at her. The crooked grin tugged at the farthest corners of her heart yet again.

“Happy Valentine’s Day”, she said and slipped the letter on the mantelpiece where a metallic frame showed a man in an olive green uniform.

Instantly, she thought of the many love letters which lay undelivered, unread and some even buried in the abyss of grief stricken hearts because for some men the love for one’s motherland came first.

She closed her eyes and an errant tear trickled down her eyes.

 
This was first published here: https://artoonsinn.com/2019/02/13/the-tradition/

Posted in love, Short Story, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Do We Need To Push The ‘Desh-Bhakti’ Button?

 

uri capI happened to have a cursory glance at one of the reviews of the movie Uri. It stated with a hint of sarcasm and said that the movie attempts to push on our emotional and ‘desh bhakti’ buttons.

This got me thinking. Why suddenly being patriotic is considered a taboo? Why expressing your ardent love for your motherland often earns you the label of a jingoist albeit erroneously? With these questions looming large in my mind, I saw the movie Uri.

Uri: The Surgical Strike is based on the Indian Army’s surgical strike on the POK. The surgical strike was a retaliation in response to the attack on the Army Brigade Headquarters in Uri in September 2016 where 19 soldiers were killed ruthlessly and more than 80 were injured.

The movie clearly belongs to one man- Vicky Kaushal.  From the reticent lanky boy in Massan to the confident, gutsy soldier in Uri, he seems to have come a long way. The way he becomes the character is spell binding and he never ceases to surprise me. He as Major Vihaan has almost carried the entire film on his able shoulders with just the ‘right josh’. Kirti Kulhari as an Indian Airforce pilot convincingly played the part and being a defense brat herself I am sure she would have blended in the role effortlessly. Yami Gautam was impressive as an Intelligence officer.

There has been some dramatization and you can gauge that, but given the subject one can let it go. The portrayal of army men is on point. The constant struggle of the fauji families wherein they grapple duty and family life is truly delineated and so is their zest for life. What I liked the most is the way Army officers are depicted. They are unassuming, focused and are doing their jobs oblivious to the chaos and clearly not yearning for any larger than life praises for their acts of valor.

As I sat in the theatre, the crowd cheered and applauded – not because a button of patriotism was pressed hard, but because they felt one with those unknown, nameless soldiers who lost their lives – they felt mighty proud of those faceless group of soldiers who went on to risk their lives for their country. So, I ask what is wrong in bringing forth these fervent emotions of patriotism ? Weren’t these emotions running high when our ancestors fought for the elusive freedom?

Uri, you have my heart !!

 

 

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My Tryst With Beauty!

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What is beauty? As I sit pondering over what truly defines beauty, I cannot help but dive deep into the labyrinths that I meandered through the thirty plus years of my existence. The truth is that the concept of beauty has had different connotations for me at different stages of my life.

When I was an unassuming, starry-eyed school girl, I remember being smitten by the very idea of beauty. I found myself being confounded by the fact that the so called ‘beautiful people’ were looked at by the society at large with rose-colored glasses. Yes, at that young an age, I could gauge that the pretty girls of the school were looked at with a hint of envy by the other girls and the boys gazed at them to no end.

For a naïve thirteen year old this was probably the first tryst with beauty and the hoo- haa around it. I was not unattractive so to say if you come to define by the societal standards of beauty. I was fair and thin and reasonably decent looking.

But, the thing with beauty is that no matter how good you are, there is always going to be someone who would be better than you. And so I often ended up comparing myself with other girls. I distinctly remember this one incident wherein for a school play a pretty and tall girl was out rightly chosen for a part while I yearned to play the protagonist. It was then that I felt that life is unfair to you at times if you do not fit into the mold of what the world deem as ‘beautiful’.

But, life went on and like so many other things my notions and beliefs about beauty metamorphosed like the clay that twists and turns on the Potter’s wheel to finally become a sturdy pot. As I grew older, both in age and sensibilities, it gradually dawned upon me that beauty is not something which is an all pervading phenomenon. Just by dint of being pretty you could not be successful and happy.

There were a number of people who made me realize that our society has a warped up definition of beauty and it is time we redefine it. And yes my education and life experiences led me to believe that beauty is indeed skin deep.

My grandmother, who inspite of being dark-skinned and someone who wasn’t ‘beautiful’ as per the societal standards, unwittingly ingrained in me the first seeds of feminism and led life on her own terms. She had an infectious zest for life and was never apologetic about the way she wanted to live. In an era where women were mostly the shadows of their husbands, she was a politician who unabashedly spoke her mind. I remember at seventy five years of age, when my grandfather said to her, “We have lived a full life, now it is time to go”, she replied, “I am not going anywhere, aap ko jaana hai toh jao. Mujhe bahaut jeena hai abhi”.

I believe she is beautiful!

Then there was a colleague of mine, who was overweight and fringing towards obesity. But, she was never perturbed by her appearance. She would wear all sorts of clothes that she wished to wear and carried them with elan. Initially, people stared, some even sneered covertly. But, she was unaffected and gradually the obtrusive glares were gone. Later on she met this boy who fell for her, because he found her confident and positive. She made me realize that body-image matters and you should be comfortable in your skin, no matter what.

I believe she is beautiful!

Then, there is a college friend of mine whom I got in touch with recently through facebook. I reconnected with her after a decade and could not recognize her instantly. She had transformed completely from a lanky college girl to a woman who was ‘chubby’ and again not conforming to the societal standards of beauty. After I got in touch with her, I realized that my newsfeed used to be constantly brimming with her pictures. She was posting pictures of family outings, selfies constantly. I was amazed to see her in all these pictures, smiling from ear to ear, sans any of those ‘filters’ that the millennial resort to- to ‘correct’ their looks nowadays. She was there in her true form, just being herself. One day out of curiosity I asked her, “You click so many pictures of yours”. Pat came the reply, “I like being clicked. It makes me feel good”. She made me realize that there is no point fussing over your looks as how you feel about yourself reflects on your face which in turn makes you beam.

I believe she is beautiful!

Today, as I am a mother to a young girl, I am glad that now I know that beauty isn’t merely about looking beautiful. To be beautiful you ought to feel beautiful. And how does one feel beautiful? Believing in oneself is the first step to feel beautiful. I hope I am able to instill in my daughter this belief that to look beautiful, believe in yourself first. Thereafter, let your actions do the rest. And then indeed you would be a beautiful person, in the true sense of the word.

 

(Image Source: https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2013/03/norman-rockwell-girl-at-the-mirror/)

I believe every woman has TRUE BEAUTY within her in all the roles she plays. For over 18 years across 650 plus salons across the country, Naturals has been helping the Beautiful Indian Woman get more Beautiful.

Today Naturals Salutes the Beautiful Indian Woman.

Presenting Naturals TRUE BEAUTY… http://bit.ly/naturalsOF 

Posted in feminism, parenting, Uncategorized | 2 Comments