Meet the squad of Amazon Prime Video’s latest 10-part series, written by girls about girls for girls.
A chance meeting in a hip new bar leads to four women becoming BFFs. Since then, they meet in the same Truck Bar every few days and drink.
They drink when they are happy, they drink when they are sad or they drink because they are lonely. They look great while at it and never seem to suffer from hangovers.
But these women are far from perfect. While a couple are in denial about their shortcomings, others are made patently aware of their flaws.
The four immaculately dressed ladies that headline this show directed by Anu Menon and written by Devika Bhagat are:
~Anjana Menon is a single mom and successful lawyer trying hard to prevent her life from unravelling, and get some me-time. Kirti Kulhari is a little clumsy with the English dialogue and a tad uneasy in the risqué outfits but as the more mature friend in the group, who is still getting over a failed marriage, she manages to find her metre.
~Damini Rizvi Roy is a successful investigative journalist with chronic OCD who fantasises about her gynaecologist. There is no real explanation for her quirks and she’s certainly quite dense when it comes to the attention of men but ballsy when it comes to her stories. Sayani Gupta works her sassy wardrobe and consistently brings out the vulnerability, frustration and triumphs of her feisty character.
~Siddhi Patel is a 23 year old stifled by a domineering mother whose only focus is to marry off her disappointment-of-a-daughter.
Of the four, Siddhi’s character arc is the most textured as she comes of age and gains confidence in the most unexpected way. Maanvi Gagroo channelizes her inner girl-child and is a joy to watch through all of Siddhi’s minor joys and major lows.
~Umang has run away from a claustrophobic life in Ludhiana to Mumbai where she’s working as a fitness trainer and living a free -- but shallow – life, though she might not think so. Umang is bisexual and flaunts all of these labels as much as she does her tattoos. I was grateful for the sub-titles because it was difficult to follow Bani J’s speech as she rolled through her dialogues.
Besides being a fashion parade for these four actors (the costumes definitely pop), some men also make an appearance. Milind Soman (as every 30-something woman’s fantasy), Prateik Babbar (who fits into the role of bar owner Jeh like it’s a bespoke slinky glove), and Neil Bhoopalam (as Anjana’s former husband) play more than arm-candy. Other supporting cast members include Simone Singh, Lisa Ray and Amrita Puri.
Impressive production support, nicely filmed and well edited, the series, which is shot mostly in South Mumbai (SoBo) and Goa, takes time hitting its stride. Mike McLeary’s soundtrack of 12 original songs is a definitely highlight.
There is no faulting the fine chemistry between the four actresses, though, with the most realistic being the drama in the Patel household.
One quibble would be that equal attention should have been paid to character development as window dressing as one doesn’t feel equally invested in the lives of each girl. Plus, there is a little concern about how all issues are sorted out in a bar, over alcohol.
You wonder whether Anjana, Siddhi, Damini and Umang can find their way out of all their emotional dilemmas in another way besides during happy hour and only with their squad’s support.
Director Anu Menon returns to the fluffy London Paris New York zone, away from her far more affecting movie Waiting, and she seems quite at home appealing to millennials.
The writers (story by Devika Bhagat, dialogues by Ishita Moitra) are so excited to be on a lightly censored platform that they go over-the-top with references to sex and genitalia, which often sounds gratuitous. A same-sex relationship is depicted more physically than with much emotional heft.
Endure the overused bold language to realise there are some comments on feminism, gender equality, parenting, prejudice, women in power pulling other women down, on trolls and paid media, on fat shaming and ways we seek self-affirmation. Unfortunately, several other themes are touched upon cursorily or conveniently glossed over.
Four More Shots Please is a mash-up of popular chick flicks and rom-coms from Sex and the City to Friends and Crazy Rich Asians extrapolated to a South Mumbai setting. Truck Bar is the equivalent of ‘Central Perk’ for these friends who never repeat their clothes, love a drink and can talk openly about their sexual status, even if their experiences in the privacy of their bedroom tells another story.
Streaming on Amazon Prime Video from January 25.