Made in Heaven 2: Glamour sans Gravitas

The wedding planners team of Made in Heaven. Photo: Amazon Prime Video

The intentions may be to mirror a society that is still decadent or regressive in its thought, despite the base of big-city Delhi. They showcase an abusive marriage, caste prejudices, gender bias (through homosexuality and trans-woman), a regressive mother, teenage sex issues, class barriers, open relationships, sheer greedy and ambition—the list is endless through seven long-drawn episodes. All this through a wedding planner duo, Tara (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan (Arjun Mathur) and their team, that run a company called “Made in Heaven”.

As Season 2 begins, we have Tara and Karan trying to pick up the pieces as their office was destroyed by thugs when Season 1 ended. But the pieces are not just on the professional front. The two are emotionally traumatized as well. Tara is now living away from her adulterous husband, Adil (Jim Sarbh), who has hooked up with her friend, Faiza (Kalki Koechlin). Karan is battling between his natural tendencies as a homosexual (with a variety of suitors) and trying in vain to make himself accepted and understood by his mother (Preiti Mamgain) who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Their team is no less in their issues with what life doles out. Their videographer, Kabir (Shashank Arora), who also provides the commentary, is also unclear about love and life. So is Jazz (Shivani Raghuvanshi), who has a Muslim boyfriend in Nadeem (Sahidur Rahaman) and is unsure about her feelings for Kabir. The latest entrant in the team is trans-woman Meher (Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju) with her own set of problems connected with her identity.

Then we have Bulbul (Mona Singh), the accountant-cum-partner of the firm, who has faced an abusive husband and now has a problematic son, Dhruv (Harnaam Singh Sandhu).

Basically, every protagonist here is embroiled in confusion, and most are losers. There is excessive (and I have italicized the word deliberately) depiction of Karan’s sex life, which is totally uncalled for—it literally stretches the run-time of every episode without adding to it. Tara comes across as a vulnerable yet confused girl who is essentially a gold-digger, has attacks of guilt and is yet ruthless. She even dumps a boyfriend, Raghav (Ishwak Singh, straying into this aberration of a show after the brilliant Rocket Boys).

Jazz is the golden goose of sorts for her parents, while Adil is the typical uber-rich brat who thinks he can get away with anything. Faiza has had a bad marriage and has zero qualms about wrecking her friend’s marriage, despite opposition from her own family.

The weddings are all ostentatious, but, as in Season 1, almost all the company’s clients have problems and issues. And we wonder why the firm, ‘Made in Heaven’ does not get a single normal client, forget an ideal couple!

Using rich, obscenely lavish weddings to highlight social issues, most without any resolution, the series drags on and on, with his “globally-appealing” (!!!) content of long smooching and making-out scenes, especially with Karan again, and with the eye-candy of fantabulous preparations for and executions of weddings, complete with exotic locations like forts and even overseas (the French Riviera). The show presents and glorifies a culture that is neither aspiration-worthy nor inspiring but a sheer test of our patience in its distancing from normal Indian reality. It pretends to project issues while mostly playing safe with conventional outcomes—something co-writer Alankrita, for one, has always done!

Alankrita Srivastava and Nitya Mehra are no filmmakers known for notable cinema, but they had struck a kind of gold along with co-directors Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti with viewers way back in 2019, when the first season came as something fresh and different and espoused some social causes clothed in glamour. This time, everything seems overdone, that too pretentiously and for the sake of it—it is glamour sans gravitas.

Neeraj Ghaywan, however, saves the day with a fairly competent pair of episodes, one of which is about a  Dalit woman who is now a Columbia University professor, and the other, even more interesting, about a couple’s respective mother and father, who get married in place of the original youngsters!

As is sadly the case with such series (and movies), a bunch of skilled performers are brought in and their work comes out as mostly extraordinary. By conventional parameters, Anuj Mathur as Karan would be said to have etched a diligent and dedicated essay, but personally, I found his performance repetitious after a point. But to be fair to him, his character’s growth also stagnates after a point and he is trapped in too many, highly similar lovemaking scenes!

Sobhita is charming, vixen-like when needed and the picture of someone who is bold in taking any initiative and offering a shoulder to cry on, even as she is herself in need of comfort. Shivani makes a charming impression as Jazz, and Shashank Arora is alright as Kabir. Vijay Raaz is good as Jauhari, ditto Harnaam Singh Sandhu as his son, Dhruv. Jim Sarbh, so good in Season 1, is watered down here, and Kalki Koechlin too slides in her performance—it both cases, the scripts are guilty. Ishwak Singh is wasted. The supporting actors and cameos are good, though Sanjay Kapoor hams big-time and irritates no end.

But if some internal awards were to be given, my choices would be Mona Singh for her superb Bulbul, and Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju for the lovable Meher created by her. Their eyes speaks much more than volumes, and Mona Singh’s nuanced looks in her ‘foreigners’ scene with Jazz, and Trinetra’s interactions with characters who are key parts of her story are amazing.

For me, these two artistes alone are reason enough to add half-a-star to what is, in  the final analysis, a social drama that does not go anywhere, and has almost nothing by way of takeaways. Noble intentions alone cannot do the trick. Ideas have to be translated into great scripts, and good judgment should prevail when we talk about a proper balance between modern and traditional, and Indian and global as well.

Rating: **1/2

Amazon Prime Video presents Excel Entertainment & Tiger Baby Productions’ Made in Heaven Season 2  Created by: Zoya Akhtar & Reema Kagti Produced by: Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar & Reema Kagti  Directed by: Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti, Alankrita Srivastava, Nitya Mehra & Neeraj Ghaywan  Written by: Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti & Alankrita Srivastava  Music: Tarana Marwah, Gautam Kaul & others Starring: Arjun Mathur, Sobhita Dhulipala, Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh, Shashank Arora, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Mona Singh, Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, Ishwak Singh, Vijay Raaz, Manini Mishra, Lushin Dubey, Preiti Mamgain, Sahidur Rahaman, Mihir Ahuja, Naina Bhan, Zayn Marie Khan, Mrunal Thakur, Neelam Kothari, Sanjay Kapoor, Samir Soni, Naina Sareen, Elnaaz Norouzi, Parul Gulati, Radhika Apte, Shibani Dandekar, Parvin Dabas, Dia Mirza, Kallirroi Tziafeta, Lillete Dubey, Harnaam Singh Sandhu, Sarah-Jane Dias,Neil Bhoopalam,  Imaaduddin Shah & others




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