Modern Love Mumbai Review: Dhruv Sehgal Can’t Save Amazon Prime Video Anthology Spin-Off


Modern Love Mumbai — the primary Indian spin-off of rom-com anthology Modern Love, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video — opens with the similar phrases as its American counterpart: “Inspired by personal essays from The New York Times column Modern Love. Certain elements have been fictionalised.” But apparently, not like the unique, Modern Love Mumbai does not expose who wrote the columns the six episodes are impressed via. Why is it hiding the names of the authors? It begs the query: are those in point of fact Mumbai tales submitted via Indian readers of NYT? Or — permit me my cynical ponderings — are those international tales transplanted to an Indian context? That happened to me from time to time as I noticed Modern Love Mumbai, extra so for the reason that episodes did not pull me in.

That’s as a result of maximum of its tales — each and every Modern Love Mumbai episode is standalone, since it is an anthology — are humdrum. While some episodes get started off poorly and not get you on their characters’ facet, others start in a promising means best to vanish out in the end. Many do not earn their insights, encompass clunky dialogues, or make superficial observations. And some cram an excessive amount of into their 40-minute runtimes. (I believe some chapters in subsequent week’s Love, Death + Robots season 3 will bring extra in about one-fourth the time.) Though there are individualistic screw ups — even famend fingers in Vishal Bhardwaj, Hansal Mehta, and Shonali Bose falter, some greater than others — it is arduous to not glance previous the guiding fingers too.

While The New York Times, and Modern Love writer, director and govt manufacturer John Carney are serious about some capability, Modern Love Mumbai is in the long run a manufacturing of Pritish Nandy’s banner. And it stocks now not simply one of the most similar issues as their Prime Video declare to status, Four More Shots Please!, but additionally their makers. Pritish’s two daughters, Rangita Pritish Nandy and Ishita Pritish Nandy, are govt manufacturer and co-executive manufacturer right here. Four More Shots Please! season 2’s publisher and director additionally get the overall Modern Love Mumbai episode to themselves. Instead of searching for new companions to make its rom-com anthology, Amazon merely grew to become to the parents already creating a (frivolous surface-level) rom-com for it. Even platforms are attractive in nepotism now.

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Masaba Gupta, Ritwik Bhowmik in Modern Love Mumbai “I Love Thane”
Photo Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The bar is in the long run set very low on Modern Love Mumbai, and Little Things writer Dhruv Sehgal — probably the most green of his friends right here, by contrast to the aforementioned Bhardwaj, Mehta, and Bose — clears it now not simply simply however correctly. His quick and the 5th episode “I Love Thane” appears truly just right in entrance of the others, although it is only for the reason that comparability is so stark. Through the point of view of a panorama fashion designer in her mid-30s (Masaba Gupta) who is realising she’s unfulfilled and incompatible with maximum males — till she probabilities upon a man from Thane (Ritwik Bhowmik) who works for the native executive council — Sehgal and his co-writer Nupur Pai (Little Things season 3 and 4) comment on what on-line relationship is like in a miles more true sense than the surface-level Eternally Confused and Eager for Love.

There’s a good looking and comical shot early into “I Love Thane”, the place two ladies lock eyes as they flow off what are demonstrably two of the arena’s worst dates. In a few seconds, Sehgal now not best succinctly reinforces the “men are s**t” philosophy that is taken cling in our technology, but additionally skewers the meant “liberal” and “feminist” males who’re arguably worse than their polar opposites. “I Love Thane” does land in a standard rom-com groove after some degree, however it is the small however deep insights Sehgal attracts that stand out. And importantly, Sehgal is unwilling to compromise on his imaginative and prescient for the sake of Western audiences — Modern Love Mumbai is as Indian going through, as it’s outward going through, I’d argue — not like what Hansal Mehta does on his “Baai”, the second one episode.

On “Baai”, when a personality namechecks a Bollywood actress, the subtitles translate it into Julia Roberts. But on “I Love Thane”, when characters carry up neighbourhoods akin to Thane, Bandra, and Naupada — they’re offered as is within the subtitles. Sehgal expects audiences to observe alongside, or learn up once they end the episode to totally perceive dialogues the place a personality complains to every other about making them “drive all the way to Thane.” This is the way it will have to be. After all, that is how Hollywood has handled the arena. New York’s boroughs — no less than their names — at the moment are recognised globally. Even a Marvel film does not dumb itself down, when Captain America and Spider-Man industry barbs over Queens and Brooklyn. And we should not be doing it both.

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Pratik Gandhi in Modern Love Mumbai “Baai”
Photo Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Mehta’s “Baai” does have a couple of issues going for it. The private spotlight for me is an early one-shot in a automotive — the director reunites together with his Scam 1992 cinematographer Pratham Mehta on Modern Love Mumbai — all the way through the Bombay riots, which is in point of fact epic and harrowing. It jogged my memory of Children of Men’s automotive series, and one of the memorable sequences I’ve observed not too long ago. “Baai”, written via Mehta and debutant Ankur Pathak, will get off to a pleasant get started, however it runs out of steam. Mehta follows a homosexual Muslim guy (Pratik Gandhi), a minority in a minority — now not the primary LGBTQ+ tale for the director, he additionally made the Manoj Bajpayee-led Aligarh.

“Baai” does the whole thing we have now come to be expecting from tales about LGBTQ+ people in repressed societies — there is a very actual inclusion of ways violence is extra prevalent in homosexual males — however it drifts off owing to its tangents. That’s transparent from its name, which refers back to the protagonist’s grandmother. But the larger drawback for Modern Love Mumbai episode 2 is that the actors — famous person chef and restaurateur Ranveer Brar performs Gandhi’s boyfriend and long run husband — are not plausible as homosexual males. The marriage ceremony scene is 👎🏼 and the intimacy scenes are downright laughable. It’s like they’re smushing their faces and our bodies towards each and every different, slightly than in truth embracing and kissing one every other.

Mehta additionally tries to position meals on the centre of his tale — the grandmother is understood for her cooking, and Brar’s personality is a chef — however it is misplaced in the midst of the whole thing else and not comes into its personal. Vishal Bhardwaj does significantly better in centring his story, “Mumbai Dragon”, round meals. Like Mehta, Modern Love Mumbai episode 3 — written via Bhardwaj and debutant Jyotsna Hariharan — makes a speciality of outsiders. In his case, Chinese-origin Indians who proceed to be handled as the opposite, in spite of struggling thru greater than maximum Indians. (The tale is therefore a mixture of Hindi, Cantonese, Punjabi, and English.)

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Though Meiyang Chang’s wannabe playback singer will get extra of the plot, it is his mom (Yeo Yann Yann) who will get to polish on Modern Love Mumbai. Kudos to her for taking up function that is in large part in Hindi — she can not sound like a herbal, however she does her best possible. Yann’s mom is conserving onto her grownup son thru meals, as that is how she expresses her love. While “Baai” is partially about how meals is truly about love, “Mumbai Dragon” does a greater task of conveying that. In Mehta’s story, it fades into the background. Baai is meant to be a killer chef, however it is not a part of the image — it is previous. Bhardwaj ends his with a great meals shot, which conveys greater than dialogues or movements may.

There are generic portions to Bhardwaj’s Modern Love Mumbai episode as neatly. Not best does it meander within the center, it is feeding into an overly-optimistic self-fulfilling symbol. Bollywood the dream system has all the time favored to gasoline its personal mythos, although I anticipated extra from any individual like Bhardwaj. I wasn’t anticipating a lot from Shonali Bose (The Sky Is Pink) and Alankrita Shrivastava (Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare), and in spite of that, their tales closely under-deliver.

“Raat Rani” — Modern Love Mumbai episode 1, written via Nilesh Maniyar (The Sky Is Pink) and have debutant John Belanger — is the one one that is about folks falling out of affection, now not in it. The giant stumbling block for Bose’s episode is that Fatima Sana Shaikh’s Kashmiri accessory is outright hilarious. On best of that, you’ll’t relate to the characters from the start for the reason that get started is so abrupt. But extra importantly, “Raat Rani” does not earn any of its scenes. Wholly disjointed, it merely jumps from something to the opposite. Bose needs “Raat Rani” to be a ladies empowerment tale at its center, however primary moments of enlargement occur off display.

This may be a topic with “My Beautiful Wrinkles” — written via Shrivastava, its name and Mumbai geography may be misplaced — the place a separated grandmother (Sarika) is propositioned, via a tender guy (Danesh Razvi) she’s tutoring, in some way that are supposed to represent sexual harassment. Despite the racy overture, Modern Love Mumbai episode 4 is puerile all over, virtually as though it is ashamed to in truth dive into what it is about. “My Beautiful Wrinkles” fizzles out in no time, and leads to a tacky, cop out style, which betrays that it had not anything to mention of price. It additionally has the clunkiest dialogues of any episode on this Prime Video anthology, with its characters pronouncing issues which can be discovered on coasters and t-shirts. It’s a case of Shrivastava arising quick in each division.

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Arshad Warsi, Chitrangda Singh in Modern Love Mumbai “Cutting Chai”
Photo Credit: Amazon Prime Video

That leaves what I referred to as the nepotism tale, as it is the one made via Four More Shots Please! season 2 director Nupur Asthana and publisher Devika Bhagat. “Cutting Chai”, starring Chitrangda Singh and Arshad Warsi as a pair of their forties, romanticises problematic facets of Indian men. I’ve not anything extra to mention, as a result of that is mainly all of the episode. Except the 6th and ultimate Modern Love Mumbai episode flips within the ultimate 9 mins, because it makes an attempt to carry all of it in combination and ascribe which means to all of the sequence in a corny style.

Out of nowhere, Modern Love Mumbai destroys its anthology aesthetic on “Cutting Chai”, with characters from the primary 5 episodes quickly taking on. It’s now not as extraordinary for many who’ve observed Modern Love, for the reason that unique did the similar, as a pal knowledgeable me. That does not make it any much less abrupt although. Some scenes repay on previous resolutions, however with others, it is like revisiting previous trauma. It’s a slightly becoming conclusion and, in some way, the worst conceivable finish, as a result of via recapping and giving us tiny epilogues, Modern Love Mumbai best serves to remind us how deficient the anthology is.

All six episodes of Modern Love Mumbai are launched Friday, May 13 at 12am IST on Amazon Prime Video in India and world wide.




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