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.