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Made In Heaven review: Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s web show is predictable yet binge-worthy

Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s Made In Heaven starring Arjun Mathur, Sobhita Dhulipala, Jim Sarbh and Kalki Koechlin exposes the hypocrisy of the elite in India when it comes to the big fat Indian weddings. It addresses the known issues in a new light

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made in heaven review

Within a month, after an impressive Gully Boy made waves at Berlinale and the Indian box office, filmmaker Zoya Akhtar is back to business with her Amazon Prime Original Made In Heaven. The show created by Zoya and her long-time collaborator Reema Kagti (Talaash, Gold) exposes the hypocrisy of the elite in India when it comes to the big fat Indian weddings. Written by Akhtar, Kagti and Alankrita Shrivastava (Lipstick Under My Burkha), Made In Heaven revolves around the lives of Karan Mehra (Arjun Mathur) and Tara Khanna (Sobhita Dhulipala), two wedding planners navigating their business and relationships through the cut-throat competitive market of wedding planning in Delhi.

The first two episodes directed by Zoya Akhtar give the series a good start. The director moves the narrative swiftly to setup the mood and characters without wasting too much time in explanation. The leads Karan and Tara deal with their own problems as they plan others’ weddings. Karan, a son of a businessman, in debt, haunted by the failure of his previous venture, is living a life of shame and secrecy; he’s a homosexual. Tara has made her way from rags-to-riches by marrying a business tycoon Adil Khanna (Jim Sarbh) who is the main investor in ‘Made In Heaven’, the wedding planning company that Tara runs with Karan.

The big fat weddings in Delhi are a winning premise for a mainstream Bollywood film (Maneesh Sharma’s 2010 sleeper-hit Band Baaja Baaraat). But what the creators of this show have done with this setting is much more intense, impactful and most importantly, necessary.

Watch the Made In Heaven trailer here:

The nine episodes of the series show nine weddings. The narrative is consistent as all the nine episodes are written by Zoya, Reema and Alankrita. Where it falters is when the most obvious things are said with in-your-face dialogues. Certain plot twists are too predictable because of the way a character or sequence is setup. Be it a royal molesting a girl or a shady landlord trying to invade the privacy of his tenant or who is going to sleep with whom. The show is directed by four directors – Zoya Akhtar, Nitya Mehra, Prashant Nair, and Alankrita Shrivastava. But the narrative has a strong Zoya-Reema touch. The noise and the silence are dealt perfectly (Zoya has been using silences really well to tell a story, notably Lust Stories and Gully Boy).

The series is technically sound – the cinematography of Jay Oza, John Jacod Payyapalli, Stefan Ciupek, and Tanay Satam keeps things intimate and personal and the visuals stay with you. The hollowness in big places and people is captured beautifully. The series scores big on the music front as well. Just like he did for Gully Boy, music supervisor Ankur Tiwari has created-curated music with independent artists for the series.

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From L to R: Nitya Mehra, Reema Kagti, Ritesh Sidhwani, Zoya Akhtar, Alankrita Shrivastava

The lead characters are flawed and that’s what makes them real. The supporting characters have their own layers that add to the ‘catharsis’ (a word Zoya uses a lot). What plagues the show in a minor way (thankfully minor) is the underplaying of Sobhita Dhulipala’s portrayal of Tara. She appears to be two different people when she speaks English and when she switches to Hindi. It has got more to do with acting than her rags to riches switch in the show. Adil Khanna played by Jim Sarbh is the least likeable character in the narrative. Whether the makers intended that character to keep the viewer guessing or not, Jim looks confused in his performance and it’s annoying to watch him.

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Actors Sobhita Dhulipala and Arjun Mathur play Tara Khanna and Karan Mehra in Made In Heaven

Shivani Raghuvanshi plays a Dwarka girl named Jaspreet ‘Jazz’ Kaur trying to find her feet in the elite South Delhi. Her character has spark but could have been more developed. The voice-over by the detached Kabir (Shashank Arora) at the end of every episode is poignant. Kalki Koechlin does what she does best in a small role as Faiza Naqvi, Tara’s friend who has an affair with her husband Adil. She’s mostly seen discussing her life’s choices with her therapist.

The performance that stands out is of Karan played by Arjun Mathur. Arjun shows the angst, tragedy, pain, and shame of being gay with perfection. He is a victim but he’s not portrayed as just a victim. While being homosexual, he has the same set of issues that any heterosexual would. For that matter the show isn’t biased towards any gender, sexual orientation or class. It shows everything and everyone just the way they are.

And that’s what makes you think how do you know someone and how do you make sense of all this? Would you judge Jazz swiping company’s card just so that she can buy expensive clothes for a day and return them? Or judge the girl who doesn’t mind marrying a tree before she marries her man because she’s a ‘manglik’? And will you judge Tara tricking Adil so that she can climb the ladder to the riches? Or would you judge Karan for his choices? The pain he caused to the boy he loved in school so that people don’t know that he’s gay? Karma does find its way to show you the full circle. And the creators have used it well in the narrative.

From caste politics, dowry, infidelity, to dignity and freedom, Made In Heaven touches all the issues that plague the constitution of marriage in India. The issues are known and seen on screen before. But Made In Heaven addresses them in a new and better light. It’s worth a binge watch.

Star rating: 3 stars

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