‘Made in Heaven’ Is an Incomplete Portrayal of Love & Marriage
Made in Heaven is binge-worthy, and highlights many issues surrounding the institution of marriage , as dowry, economic ‘superiority’ of husbands, infidelity, abuse, social media obsession, crushing wedding budgets among others.
The characters of Karan and Tara, the wedding planners, are real and complex. With each wedding, you get a glimpse into their past which is actively shaping their present and calling them into action. Gay rights are also woven into the narrative seamlessly. But despite all this, I felt a sense of longing – for a wholesome and organic portrayal of love and marriage.
As a young girl, the Swiss Alps, chiffon-clad maidens and the super romantic heroes convinced me that love is magical. Now, a series like Made in Heaven, except for brief moments of authentic love and friendship, proclaims that marriages are flawed. Both these portrayals are incomplete as our collective life experience would speak.
As a teenager, when I saw DDLJ, Kuch Kuch Hota Hain, Dil To Pagal Hai and Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, I was smitten by the rich and triumphant love shown in these movies.
Madhuri’s willingness to sacrifice her love in Hum Aapke Hai Koun, Kajol’s implicit trust in Shah Rukh and his faith in the power of love to overcome the societal norms in DDLJ, Karisma and Kajol letting go of their love for SRK in Dil To Pagal Hai and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai respectively, strengthened my notion of eternal love.
Then life intervenes and you experience love. When the chemistry in the brain floods your body, and you gaze into the eyes of your “jaan” for hours, travel thousands of miles to spend a few hours with your “babu(y)” or spend the whole night talking on the phone with your “honey”, LOVE has officially taken control of your life.
But, with time the oxytocin and serotonin give way and you find yourself with a guy who is neither as sizzling as Hrithik Roshan from Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai nor as romantic as SRK from DDLJ and calls you (at least) thrice from the supermarket asking for directions to the cooler section and still can not spot our “regular” brand of milk.
Now let us add work, in-laws, mortgages, household chores and kids to this mix and that is the recipe for a real marriage. At that point, you would like to invite Karan Johar to have a coffee with you and tell him “Bahut kuch hota hai, tum kab samjhoge, Karan”? (A lot of things happen, when will you understand, Karan?)
Back to the present. Although, Zoya’s story is set in an urban and super rich segment of Delhi, it addresses the social ills attached to the Indian marriage ecosystem in a relatable manner. Of all the issues that Zoya has raised, probably the most prevalent today is the desire to create a bigger and more beautiful wedding product than the ones witnessed in the past. The wedding events and their design/organisation cater to the appetite of the social media and thus make the wedding an extravagant affair.
In 2017, the ‘baraat business’ in India was estimated to be $50 billion, the world’s second largest, compared to that of $70 billion in the United States. Further, it is estimated to grow at a rate of 20% per year.
In the series, Tara and Karan are the architects of such fantasy weddings. Tara’s marriage is plagued with infidelity and manipulation. Apart from brief moments, like the wedding of Deepti Naval and Tara’s sister’s bond with her husband, you are left with the impression that marriages are doomed to begin with. But are they really?
As a middle-aged woman, having loved and lost, and found love yet again, I know more than our content creators would like to believe. I understand that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to love and marriage. Marriages may be made in heaven, but they honoured by humans, who are faced by earthly desires and norms that threaten to toss them around.
(The author is a graduate from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) and is currently based in Switzerland. As an overseas Indian, she enjoys watching Bollywood movies and online content. This is a personal blog, and the views expressed are the author's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for them.)