Sarabhai vs Sarabhai. Khichdi. Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah
Since the 90s, family sitcoms have occupied a special place in our drawing rooms. A simple storyline, relatable characters and comedic timing never go out of fashion, just like Maggi or pakodas on rainy days.
Let’s skip forward to 2019. Meet the Malhotras – Rishabh and Shefali are trying to juggle parenting their three kids, handling an overbearing mother-in-law and keeping alive the passion in their marriage. As if there wasn’t enough on their plate already, the couple is also trying to adhere to the dictates of being ‘modern’ and ‘hep’.
Amazon Prime’s new web series Mind the Malhotras is the latest addition to sitcoms about family. Written by Sahil Sangha and Karan Sharma, it is the desi adaptation of the Israeli show La Famiglia. The show has nine episodes, each of which is approximately 25 minutes long.
Who Are the Malhotras?
The main Malhotras, Rishabh and Shefali, played by Cyrus Sahukar and Mini Mathur respectively, are still waiting for pieces of their lives to come together like a perfectly made jigsaw puzzle. They might fight, but at the end of the day, they support each other through thick and thin. The other Malhotras are their two teenage daughters named Dia and Jia, their son, Yohan (aka Yo-Yo), who is the most naughty eight-year-old ever, Shefali’s not-so-welcoming mother-in-law and their domestic help, Zoravar.
Since most of the couple’s friends have a divorce underway, they decide to visit a couples therapist named Dr Gulfam Rastogi, played by Denzil Smith. These sessions segue into revealing flashbacks about the Malhotra household. The series has no storyline in particular and each episode depicts a different event in the Malhotras’ life.
Oh So Cliché
We were expecting Mind the Malhotras to be a breath of fresh air in the genre. However, we were served the hackneyed stereotypes and clichéd family roles which we, quite frankly, are tired of watching. In short, the characters are extremely predictable and the series has nothing new to offer.
Shefali, the typical ‘log kya kahenge’ mom, wants everything about her and her family to be perfect. From the decor of their luxurious Bandra home to showing off imported edible delicacies to her neighbours, she wants only the best.
Rishabh, on the other hand, is the typical man: clumsy and useless at multi-tasking. His character is encapsulated in a scene where he is unable to heat up upma in the microwave and hold a conversation on the phone at the same time.
Shefali’s mother-in-law, played by Sushmita Mukherjee, has zero respect for other people’s privacy and often shows up, uninvited and at ungodly hours, to the Malhotras’ house. Same old, same old.
The problem doesn’t stop at stereotyping. The show in itself lacks a proper narrative structure and becomes unbearable from the second episode itself. Neither are there any characters who have an impact on you nor are any dialogues worth remembering.
In the rare event of you connecting with a character, the overacting makes sure to wash away any possibility of relating to them.
So, the question is: Why should we spend (or waste) five hours watching Mind the Malhotras?
Where Is the Laughter?
With a trailer that was mildly hilarious, we had hoped Mind the Malhotras would bring in a new idiom to the family sitcom genre but were left disappointed. Hardly any scene in Mind the Malhotras tickles your funny bone. Most jokes are either badly placed or stripped of comedic effect because of the overacting. Not to forget the music, which, at times, can only be described as jarring.
If forced to name a scene that made me laugh, I would pick the scene featuring Ali Fazal in a cameo. Shefali meets Ali at a café and asks him to record videos for Yohan’s birthday. What is meant to be a sweet birthday message soon turns into a dos and don’ts list for her son.
We Need More Malhotras
Mind the Malhotras suffers from an overdose of the two lead Malhotras – Rishabh and Shefali. How often are we to put up with their rants? We see everything from Rishabh and Shefali’s point of view and the couple presence looms over every episode. How about sparing some screen time for the other Malhotras? We never see the kids’ or the mother-in-law’s side of the story.
Mind the Malhotras is worth your time only if you have ticked off all other sitcoms from your watch-list. It’s binge-worthy quotient is so low, you might be better off watching a rerun of your favourite show instead.
PS: It’s best to watch Mind the Malhotras without any expectations at all as the show does not come anywhere close to the eternally glorious 90s shows.
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