Mumbai or many of us find the spirit in the name Bombay, a city where stories play out next to you. A city where even the seats of local trains have stories engraved on them. Remember that little girl who knocked on the window of your car for a gajra, she has a story to tell. Amazon Prime Video’s Modern Love: Mumbai is just that. A show here to tell the stories of the purest feelings of love. While some fall out of it, only to fall deeper, some find it again at an unexpected turn. Amidst many hits, and very few misses, it is Shonali Bose Ki Raat Rani that wins the show for me. Here are my reviews for all six stories.
my beautiful wrinkles
Director: Alankrita Srivastava,
Mold: Sarika, Danesh Razvi, and Ahsaas Channa
Count on Alankrita Srivastava to tap into women in such a way that their weakest selves shine through and you are not allowed to judge. They say “age is just a number”, right? Are we really ready to accept a woman dating a guy 30 years younger than us? Sarika as Dilbar, a woman who hasn’t let the trauma of her past life (that is the real wrinkles) guard herself over the years. A rusty vintage car with dents stands in front of his gate blocking the way, as if he had blocked the gates of his heart. A young man (Danesh Rajvi) enters the same gate touching the same car, and he will remove those wrinkles.
The superpower of Alankrita is her bravery and writing which does not let anyone judge at any point. A grandmother can find love in a boy who is close to her granddaughter’s age. She can imagine him, dare to judge. Dig deeper and over the ages, this is a story about two lonely people who find the love that makes them break their prison. In one scene, Razvi stands in front of the mirror and behaves as if he is socializing, and this breaks my Gen-Z heart. Sarika is beautiful as an actor and so does the cinematography that captures the essence of her surroundings. Also, Sameer Rahat, I am proud of you and this is gold!
Director: Hansal Mehta.
Mold: Prateek Gandhi, Ranveer Brar, Tanuja and the ensemble.
If it is a romantic Hansal Mehta poem, I am ready to buy the first ticket, if he decides to make more of it. There is poetry in the existence of his characters. Ali Sethi’s breath-taking moonlit night plays in the background when love for many is shattered, and a ballad ensues when these people accept their realities and move on. It is about a gay couple, but the beauty of Bai is that it never tries to part ways. There is a biological gaze that sees them as lovers regardless of their gender.
Mehta creates some of the most tender moments with his stellar cast. When Ranveer’s Rajveer kissed Prateek on Manju’s neck. Or when Bai catches a lie and teaches life lessons. This does not mean that Mehta alienates his core audience. He clarifies his remarks and even includes the politics of land and religion that have shaped Bai. But the filmmaker forgets to give Tanuja’s bai the focus she should have. There could have also been a more subtle and real depiction of intimacy.
i love thane
Director: Dhruv Sehgal.
Mold: Masaba Gupta and Ritwik Bhowmik.
At the risk of sounding too Gen-Z, this is closest to the culture of relationships that my generation is living. We do not understand the difference between infatuation and love, or what is real and what is not. As a writer and director, Dhruv Sehgal is a must-have fan of Richard Linklater. The man knows how to hold and seat his audience to listen to the conversation that takes place between his characters. This time he also adds metaphor to the mix. He takes his story from Modern Love: Mumbai to a place that may at least sound romantic, Thane. Dare you say Thane is not in Mumbai.
As they say, you will find love in the most unexpected places. Masaba as Saiba is finding herself a real follower in a world that only has plastic ones. She wears them in her hair, as she visits plastic people. And the moment she meets a man she could never have swiped on Tinder, she falls in love. There is a beauty in the unconventional-ness of it all and Sehgal knows how to deal with it and his actors help him systematically. They roam in the park, you guys. If you haven’t explored the fort-like shores of the lake, please go now. Sehgal also gives a shout out to the migrated children, who leave their mark.
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj,
Mold: Meiyang Chang, Wamika Gabbi, Yeo Yan Yan and Naseeruddin Shah.
Vishal Bhardwaj is a magician filmmaker who can layer his world in the most effortless way and now he is getting even better with humour. Mumbai Dragon is once again a filmmaker merging a wider societal issue into the story closer to home. We always have something or the other that manages to isolate everyone who looks different from us. The people of our North East have faced accidental racism in every sphere of their lives. Recognizing the same, Bharadwaj celebrates this fact in his brief. A Chinese woman who has her roots in Mumbai since the 1930s lives in a house that is a symbol of her culture and stands out among a similar looking house in Mumbai.
His son Ming (Chang) falls in love with a Gujarati girl Megha (Gabbi) and this is where the conflict begins. One character casually says “A Chinese sings better than you”, to which Ming replies “I am Indian”. His mother calls Megha a vegetarian witch. Bharadwaj shows the insecurities of both the worlds. The refreshing thing is that the command of Vishal’s world is in the hands of those who have been exploited on screen till now. Research and authenticity shine bright in portraying culture. A tiffin box in Vishal’s film is also culturally appropriate and there is a reason why he is who he is now. The music is great and Chang needs to sing more.
Director: Shonali Bose.
Mold: Fatima Sana Shaikh, Bhupendra Jadawat and Dilip Prabhawalkar.
Shonali’s longtime friend Nilesh Maniyar tells me that he found Lalzari (Fatima) in his kitchen, and believe me the night queens are all around us. Assigned to my favorite and most talented people, Bose’s short story explores love for those who have been deceived into it. Who do you love when your boyfriend leaves you in the middle of the road? you yourself. Along with Lalzari, the team explores every aspect of the journey of a man who sets out to find himself. Fatima Sana Shaikh surpasses herself and emerges as a star in it. She brings out the innocence, arrogance and vulnerability so well it’s hard to believe it’s Fatima.
Sonali plays with metaphors. A vibrating wheel that smooths over time, a bridge that Lalzari learns to climb, both practical and figurative. Crushing social norms and restrictions. The class is divided, with Bholi Lalzari only dreaming of crossing the Bandra-Worli sea link on a two-wheeler (which is not allowed) while his employer has land on the moon, Bose and Maniyar negotiating the right time. . The queen blooms at night, but make sure everyone smells its fragrance and acknowledges her presence no matter what other trees stand around her, Lalzari does exactly that, and I’m in love.
Director: Nupur Asthana
Mold: Arshad Warsi and Chitrangada Singh.
All my friends who often use the train as a means of transportation, like I do, must have seen you guys lost in their dream world. Most of the time it’s me. Devika Bhagat and Nupur Asthana have made a film about us. Cutting Chai is a nod to all those who have brought dreams to this city and who have gone for a complete toss, just to give you a fortune you never imagined. And that leads to the corner where they replay their lives and think about things that never happened.
While cutting out tea is a good idea, it seems like we’ve already seen it. Of course, there is a new touch, but that is not enough. Singh manages to embody Latika very well. The industry needs to explore its potential, high time. Arshad is in his element and there is no way you will not like him. The music is Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and soothing is synonymous with this trio.
Modern Love: Mumbai Review: Last Words:
Everything that describes love is here filled with a lace of reality. Maybe some people just don’t sit right with you, it doesn’t mean they are wrong, because there is no one definition of love. In a pivotal scene in Raat Rani, Fatima says, “The sun and the moon come in turn, I will come twice”, and that moment is the love I need right now.