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Review: ‘Modern Love Mumbai’ Is a Tad Slow, but Love Saves the Day

Vishal Bhardwaj, Hansal Mehta, Shonali Bose, Dhruv Sehgal, Alankrita & Nupur Asthana have helmed the anthology.

Updated
Movie Reviews
6 min read

The Mumbai chapter of the hit US anthology Modern Love, which portrayed love in all its convolution and beautiful forms, released on 13 May on Amazon Prime Video. It brought together six of the finest filmmakers- Vishal Bhardwaj, Hansal Mehta, Shonali Bose, Dhruv Sehgal, Alankrita Shrivastava and Nupur Asthana.

If you have watched Modern Love New York, I suggest you lower your expectations.

Each anthology starts with the title track 'Mausam Hai Pyaar' sung and composed by Nikhil Dsouza, the track strikes all the right chords and goes beautifully with the heartwarming anthologies. The visuals in the song are pictures of directors with their partners and other couples.

Modern Love Mumbai is inspired by personal essays from the New York Times column Modern Love. Whether you like a story or not, love the characters or not the one thing that will tug at your heart is, love.

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The anthology, shot in Mumbai, shows not just the iconic landmarks like the Mumbai sea-link, CST or marine drive but also the beauty of Thane, which most people who live in the city are also blissfully unaware of. The use of a flyover in the city plays such an integral part in Raat Raani. For me, that flyover has forever changed what it represents.

'My Beautiful Wrinkles' - Too Long to Stay With Us

A still from My Beautiful Wrinkles.

(Photo Courtesy: Pinterest)

The series begins with 'My Beautiful Wrinkles', starring Sarika, Danesh Razvi, Ahsaash Channa and Tanvi Azmi. Even though it was the shortest of the anthologies – it felt like a 2-hour film. Directed by Alankrita Srivastava this one is about Danesh, a young man in his 20’s who confesses that he is sexually attracted to Sarika who is in her 60’s and fantasizes about her. This leaves her feeling unsettled and dismisses him, but this sets her on a journey which helps her deal with her past. What ensues is a story of a woman who starts to accept the reality of her life and believes there is no age for love and romance.

Oh BAAI! Why did you do this?

Pratik Gandhi & Ranveer Brar in a still from the movie.

(Photo Courtesy: Pinterest)

Pratik Gandhi and Ranveer Brar play a queer couple in Hansal Mehta’s BAAI. Gandhi’s family doesn’t accept his sexuality and asks him to leave this “habit” and get married to be “straightened” out. However, the biggest struggle he faces is coming out to his grandmother, played by Tanuja.

Gandhi takes off to Goa and sings at a restaurant where Ranveer Brar is a chef. The two fall in love and get married. But, what irked me in BAAI was the inauthentic portrayal of intimacy between them. The kissing scene between them reminds me of the time Bollywood used flowers to represent intimacy. The chemistry between the two is odd - non-existent.

Swipe Right on 'I Love Thane'

Masaba Gupta and Ritwik Bhowmik in' Modern Love Mumbai'

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

I love Thane, directed by Dhruv Seghal, is a story that deals with online dating versus organically meeting someone.

Masaba Gupta, a landscape designer in her mid-30s, is looking for a “modern man” to love. Like most single people she gets on dating apps and goes on dates where these modern men say things like – “You can drink but not more than 2 beers,” she is ghosted by one and another made her feel sorry about herself– insisting the date has to end at his house and why would she want to sleep alone?

Things change when she takes up a project in Thane to build a park and that is where she meets Ritwik, who works with Thane Municipality. He is the opposite of the modern man Masaba was looking for, but as they work on the project and spend time together, their fondness for each other increases. Everything changes when you can truly be yourself in front of someone. In Masaba’s words, “I judge myself less around you," is a line that made me feel what love should really feel like - comfortable.

Both Masaba and Ritwik Bhwomik have portrayed their characters very earnestly and they stay with you. Dhruv has told such a simple story in such a beautiful way – where love truly is the secret ingredient. For me the reference of Masaba working with fake leaves and flowers when she did projects while she was online dating and then working to build a park with real leaves when she met Ritwik – is a reference that certainly made a point.

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'Mumbai Dragon' - An Out And Out Bhardwaj Movie

Mumbai Dragon, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, follows the Indian Chinese community. is directed by Vishal Bharadwaj.

Like most of Bhardwaj's films, this one too has scenes and shots that are a visual treat – Kwan tai Kwon ki Kasam.

That is what Yeo Yan Yan, who plays Chang’s overbearing mother, says and takes an oath to never talk in Hindi (goes back to talking in Cantonese) till her son lets go of the girlfriend.

Chang is chasing his dream of being a singer. The story deals with the mother’s love that is represented by the countless dabbas and dabbas of food she gives him every time he visits her. The overflowing food in his fridge for me draws a parallel to his mother’s love that suffocates him.

This film also stars Naseeruddin Shah who shines as a friend who helps Yeo Yan Yan navigate this. Mumbai Dragon is a story told in true Bhardwaj style. Watch this one!

'Raat Raani' - Am Impactful Film

Fatima Sana Shaikh in Modern Love Mumbai.

(Photo Courtesy: Pinterest)

Raat Raani is a story that leaves an impact on you. Directed by Shonali Bose, it stars Fatima Sana Shaikh, a cook, and her husband Bhupendra Jadawat, a security guard in an upscale apartment in Mumbai. The two are natives of Kashmir.

After her husband leaves her without a warning, with a note on a rickety bicycle, Fatima has a melt down and tries to track him down. When her attempts are in vain, Fatima gradually starts to take the reins of her own life while breaking out of the expectations she was buried under.

What stood out for me in Raat Rani was the use of symbolism through the story. The rickety cycle that represented her life, the hole in her roof spoke about the void she felt, the flyover which she just couldn’t cross represented her not moving on from her husband. But, when she did – she owned the screen. This story is about empowerment and emancipation.

This Chai is Aromatic, But Lacks Flavour

Arshad Warsi and Chitrangada Singh in Modern Love Mumbai.

Nupur Asthana’s Cutting Chai stars Chitranganda Singh, who is stuck in the humdrum of marriage and motherhood while her dream of becoming a novelist takes a back seat. Arshad Warsi plays her husband and he does it in the same Warsi style like he would in any other movie. As the story unfolds we find Singh questioning her life choices and wondering if her life could have been different if she had not married Warsi. It has its moments but Cutting chai could have been cut.

Modern Love Mumbai produced by Pritish Nandy Communicatons gives you stories and characters that you will love. Raat Raani, Mumbai Dragon and I love Thane, for me, are stories that made Modern Love Mumbai everything it set out to be. Even though My Beautiful Wrinkles, Cutting Chai and BAAI has its highs - it lacks the ingredients which others have so beautifully put together.

The series ends with all the shorts blending into each other which goes to show that Modern Love Mumbai’s essence lies in its heart and its heart lies in Mumbai.

Our Rating: 3.5 Quints out of 5

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