Show: Made in Heaven
Cast: Arjun Mathur, Sobhita Dhulipala, Jim Sarbh, Kalki Koechlin, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Shashank Arora and Vinay Pathak
Series Directors: Nitya Mehra, Zoya Akhtar, Prashant Nair, Alankrita Shrivastava
Interestingly, Made in Heaven, the recently released web show based on the business of big fat Indian weddings is written by three unmarried women filmmakers. So obviously, the Amazon Prime Video web series shows an ample amount of patriarchy and the ill effects of it not only on the women who are clear victims but also men who subsequently get quashed under it. Made in Heaven is concerned with showing how the affluent of South Delhi are concerned with displaying their wealth and grandeur at the weddings, many times at the loss of actual love that should be the basis of a wedding.
Arjun Mathur and Sobhita Dhulipala in Made in Heaven
Made in Heaven is a Delhi-based boutique wedding-planning agency run by best friends, Tara (Sobhita Dulipala) and Karan (Arjun Mathur). Every episode showcases a different wedding being planned by the duo and portrays their multiple responsibilities of doubling up as counselors, therapists, mediators, kidnap-artists and what not. They also come with their own little baggage. Tara’s billionaire husband Adil (Jim Sarbh) is cheating on her with her best friend Faiza (Kalki Koechlin) and Karan’s closeted sexuality is constant pressure on him against the society and his parents. Their personal problems-Tara is a middle-class girl married into wealth and Karan of being an openly gay man who can’t get married legally in the country are in stark contrast to the ever-after that they are out to sell to every family and every bride and groom. This contradiction makes Made in Heaven a thrilling and interesting watch.
L-R: Sobhita Dhulipala, Kalki Koechlin, Shashank Arora, Jim Sarbh, Shivani Raghuvanshi and Arjun Mathur
Made in Heaven is not averse to showcasing the increasingly transactional nature of Indian weddings. Most weddings shown in the series have some underlying agenda behind it, which is not love! Made in Heaven also portrays how the structure of weddings is built to exploit women and make them a victim of patriarchy that binds them in shackles. However, it’s the fifth episode directed by Prashant Nair (Delhi In a Day) that showcases the strongest critique. The episode is about a Ludhiana woman getting married to an already-divorced impotent NRI man and offers the heartbreaking suggestion that many women see marriage as a means to get rid of the shackles but eventually ends up in a life of servitude.
Shashank Arora and Shivani Raghuvanshi in made in Heaven
The only downside of the show is its unnecessary voice-over that seems force-fed. Films and web series are a visual medium and hence a voice-over is not needed at most times. The show also stars several other characters, most notably Jaspreet (Shivani Raghuvanshi) and Kabir (Shashank Arora) who work in junior capacities at the agency. Shashank in his capacity as a background cinematographer provides the voiceover and presents the show’s moral compass breaking down the episodes complexities into words often becomes too verbose and unnecessary at times.
While the Amazon Prime web series could have easily become too didactic and overbearing, Zoya and Kagti along with directors Alankrita Shrivastava, Nitya Mehra, and Prashant Nair have been able to structure the plot neatly and divisively. Made in Heaven does not pinpoint anyone as a culprit or villain except the Indian society. Adil’s philandering ways are not judged and Faiza is not branded as a home-breaker. Karan’s mother who treats her son’s homosexuality as a ‘disease’ is also treated with empathy and that is what works for the show because all the characters are entangled with their own strife and tribulations and there lies the beauty.
Vinay Pathak in Made in Heaven
The web series excels in the way it has shown the homosexuality of its male lead. Karan is openly gay and is not stereotyped like we see in most Hindi films. However, he has been alienated because of his sexual preference thanks to the state-sponsored alienation that made a victim out of the Indian gay population. A sub-plot involving the enigmatic Vinay Pathak who plays Karan’s closeted married landlord is too close to comfort. Made in Heaven normalizes intimacy between two gay men and for that it is highly laudable.
Made in Heaven also boasts of some stellar star cast like Deepti Naval, Lalit Behl, Dalip Tahil, Suchitra Pillai, Neena Gupta, Pulkit Samrat, Manjot Singh, Shweta Tripathi, Amrita Puri, Surendra Pal, Denzil Smith, Vijay Raaz, Vikrant Massey. Jim continues his golden run with the web series and proves once again that he is an actor par excellence. Arjun is the show stealer with his impeccable act of a gay man who has a habit of asking money from everyone and not seeing his ventures through. Sobhita's act in the series will emerge as the breakthrough performance of her career. Made in Heaven proves that there is still hope left for Indian shows that can be watched.
PeepingMoon gives Made in Heaven four Moons