Kudos to ‘Made in Heaven’ for All That ‘Jazz’
Jaspreet Kaur or ‘Jazz’ as she very appropriately likes to call herself is flamboyant, feisty, resilient and raw. She is Poo (from K3G) without her cronies, Shanaya (SOTY) without her money and Geet (Jab We Met) without her Anshuman. But she is also so much more.
Amazon Prime’s latest is a poignant commentary on the Indian urban, elite; on sexuality and sex; on Delhi and her double standards, and on culture and class. The show explores matrimony and drags the flip side of the Big Fat Indian Wedding out of creaky bedrooms, gleaming washrooms and hushed conversations, onto the shaadi-ka-stage in full frontal view of everyone who is interested. Long story short: it tears the incandescent Indian Wedding (rishta-making, phera, suhag raat et al) apart.
Exceedingly well made, each episode is moulded and served like a warm, satisfying, well-rounded lump of moist motichoor — a hard-to-miss speciality at North Indian weddings, for the viewers to relish. Adding the shimmery silver flakes on top of the shaadi-ka-laddoo is Shivani Raghuvanshi’s Jazz.
She works as a Production Assistant and loves her job dearly. For Jazz, as well as for her parents, her profession seems like the only way out of their poverty and problems. She has a brother who is a drug addict and who steals her jewellery and runs away. She tracks him down, with minimal clues, and breaks down in the process of interrogating him about her jewellery. Jazz is strong, but vulnerable. Easy going, but determined. Kind, but straightforward.
And she is her own person - something which Indian filmmakers previously haven't portrayed enough women as - because even in a moment of extreme vulnerability, minutes after being yelled at and class shamed, she doesn’t fall helplessly into the arms of the man who stood by her. She also is unapologetic and unfettered romantically and sexually. She does exactly what she feels like and when she feels like it, be it with Shashank Arora's Kabir or with her mechanic friend.
While she is taken in by fancy washrooms and five star hotels, Jazz also is not one to romanticise dust and dilapidation and what an intrigued tourist would call the “Old Delhi charm.” It is evident from when she is meandering down a Delhi-6 lane on a cycle rickshaw and she tells a starry-eyed Kabir: “Khoobsurat? Ye sab gandagi, toota-phoota tumko khoobsurat lagta hai? (Beautiful? You find all this dirt and debris beautiful?)” For her South Delhi - with its rich people and razzmatazz - is an ideal because she has never fully experienced it. Every other semblance of wreckage is her life. Besides, even though, she desires an existence different from her own, she is not one to say or condone things she doesn’t really believe in.
Jazz wants things she has never had, things that money alone can buy, things that others do. At one point she is so subsumed by her desire to emulate the lives of the wealthier folk, that she steals money from the company card to buy apparel, planning to sneakily return it to the shop after having flaunted it once. She loses her job for this. She shines like a diamond, but is embarrassed of her home and her family's struggles, asking Kabir to drop her outside an apartment complex she doesn't live in, in order to keep him from finding out what her real home is like.
Jazz may be the girl sitting next to you, rattling down the Delhi metro, with her earphones plugged in and a smile on her lips. Jazz may be the first person who started dancing at your first cousin’s wedding even though not many of you knew her. Jazz may be the woman who was talking too loudly on her phone in the elevator, oblivious to the shocked stares of other people. Jazz may be the girl who glared at the uncle ji who was gawking at you in the park and shamed him into looking away, even though she neither knew him nor you. Jazz may be the girl you went to cooking class with. Jazz may be your office colleague. Jazz may be your best friend. Jazz may be you.
Made in Heaven, with it’s a stellar ensemble, beautiful writing and crisp direction, takes the (wedding?) cake, breaks boundaries and will go a long way into educating the Indian audience. Good TV has finally arrived in India. The web show may not have actually been made in heaven, but it definitely comes from a very good place.