City of Dreams (and Love)
Modern Love Mumbai, a six-episode series, is a collection of sensitive and touching love stories set in Mumbai. Love is the common thread that runs through the series, but it is a different facet of love that we see in every story. Dr Ramandeep Mahal reviews the series and gives it an 8 out of 10 for tremendous plots, flawless acting and a sensitive portrayal.
Mumbai has been often called ‘The City of Dreams’ and Mumbai Modern Love proves it. Available on Amazon Prime, the six-episode series is a collection of sensitive and touching love stories set in Mumbai. Love is the common thread that runs through the series, but it is a different facet of love that we see in every story. The stories are not about inane or stereotyped love with a dash of physical intimacy, but about love that transcends barriers of border, ethnicity, countries, gender, class and culture.
The first story, a poignant ‘Raat Rani’, is about a cook, Lali (Fatima Sana Shaikh), who is abandoned by her lover. He takes with him all their savings and the scooter, Lali has paid for with her earnings, leaving her with a ramshackle bicycle and a tiny ‘kholi’ whose ceiling caves in one night. Lost, and alone, but not ready to accept defeat, Lali’s love for life triumphs. Shonali Bose, with sensitivity, depicts the growth and evolution of a woman of substance, who physically and metaphorically crosses the flyover of despair. Fatima Sana Shaikh again manages to give an impeccable performance. Another beautiful story is ‘Baai’ directed by Hansal Mehta, starring Tanuja and Pratik Gandhi as the principal characters. Manzu (Pratik Gandhi) is gay but unable to disclose this fact to his grandmother, believing her old-world values would be dashed by such a confession. But ‘Bai is above all this for she is the lady who managed to keep her family safe from being slaughtered during the riots. Her life-saving recipe is simple. “Nafrat karne wale bikau hote hai,” (People with hatred can be bought off easily). In her last moments, she gives her tacit approval to the Manzu-Rajveer relationship. We learn that ‘Pyaar’ (Love) is the most important ingredient of any delicious recipe.
‘My Beautiful Wrinkles’ by Alankrita Shrivastav is about a twenty something Kunal’s (Danesh Rizvi) fascination with a sixty-year-old Dilbar (Sarika). Though taken aback at first, Dilbar eventually moves on from her ‘haunting past’ to accept this tribute to her attraction and beauty. They part as friends to walk their own paths, with their peers. Sarika has enacted her role gracefully and so has Ehsaas Chanana, who plays her teenage granddaughter, experiencing heartbreak for the first time. Dhruv Sehgal’s ‘I love Thane’ has Masaba Gupta, a Bandra girl who is a landscape artist and Ritwik Bhowmik a B.Sc graduate sharing an awkward relationship. Masaba searches for men on dating apps and eventually gets ‘ghosted’ by one of them. She finally ‘discovers’ Bhowmik and realizes that there is life beyond social media too, simpler and perhaps more beautiful.
‘Mumbai Dragon,’ is another simple but interesting story. A Chinese mother (Yan Yan Yeo) and her son (Meiyang Chang) struggle with their relationship as Ming falls for an Indian girl whom his mother disapproves of. Ming wishes to be a singer and has supportive Gujarati girlfriend. On the other hand, his mother clings to him as her only anchor and calls the girlfriend ‘the vegetarian witch.’ The story seamlessly weaves together the struggles of immigrants and cross-cultural values, but love surmounts all obstacles. Naseerudin Shah’s cameo stands out.
Nupur Asthana’s ‘Cutting Chai’ has Latika (Chitrangda Singh) married to Danny (Arshad Warsi). She wishes to be a novelist, but her household chores and preoccupations as a wife and mother of two, do not allow her to pursue her creativity. She grapples with the monotony of life. She vacillates between the past and present, thinking what her life would be like if she hadn’t met Danny. A conversation with a random stranger at the railway station angers her when she is told to simply change the characters of her novel if she is not content with the existing ones. But does she want to change her life and the characters in it? Slowly but surely, Latika realizes what she really wants from life.
Walking down the cinematic promenade of ‘Modern Love Mumbai, I have come face-to-face with varied and beautiful facets of love. A must watch. I will rate the series an 8 out of 10 for its tremendous plots, flawless acting and sensitive portrayal of unusual subjects.