Modern Love: Mumbai (Amazon Prime Video, 6 films directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, Hansal Mehta, Nupur Asthana, Vishal Bharadwaj, Dhruv Sehgal, Shonali Bose)
Three of the six movies – we can’t call them episodes because they’re all stand-alone independent stories – are outright winners. The films that stand out here are clearly Hansal Mehta’s Baai, Vishal Bhardwaj’s Mumbai Dragon and Shonali Bose’s Raat Rani, the latter being special for Fatima Sana Shaikh’s rousing performance, but more on that later.
Hansal Mehta’s Baai presents Pratik Gandhi as the scion of a conservative Muslim family struggling in the closet. Rich in ambiance and brimming with romantic music and elegance, Baai is a classic representation of what can be done in the OTT space if a filmmaker takes it to heart. While Pratik and debutant Ranveer Brar are paired beautifully as lovers, Baai is brimming with wonderful acting in even the smallest part; for example, look for young Dhaval Thakur in a sequence where he steals a kiss from Pratik on the stairs. occasional momentum.
Vishal Bharadwaj’s Mumbai Dragon is the director’s finest work in ages. Warm and witty, wise and thought-provoking, it takes the age-old struggle between mother and beloved over the man of their life in the northeast and turns the conflict into tragicomic commentary. on racial segregation and cultural assimilation. The beautifully shot, long-legged short boasts a fabulous central performance from Chinese actress Yeo Yann Yann as a fiercely possessive mother smothering her son with food and more food. Naseeruddin Shah makes a playful appearance as the family’s Sikh friend.
As for Shonali Bose’s Raat Rani, what about Fatima Sana Shaikh’s performance as a super-feisty Kashmiri woman suddenly abandoned by her husband? We get to see Fatima’s layered character, Lalzari, pick up the pieces of her shattered life and string together a whole new narrative for herself, as she learns to control her traffic on the rickety bike as she smashes her way through the no-entry zones of life. Fatima’s efforts to get into character, and it involves a lot of physical work, pay rich dividends. Shonali Bose’s beautiful film about starting over comes to life.
The other three stories aren’t quite in the same league as the triumphant triumvirate. I Love Thane by Dhruv Sehgal is the best of the lower trio. Masaba Gupta has an impressive character as a not-so-young woman trying to find company with a decent, serious boy from Thane. Segal’s film would have benefited from better pacing. The narration is sometimes slow.
I Love My Wrinkles by Alankrita Shrivastava is a disappointment, coming from the director of Bombay Begums and Lipstick On The Burqa. Sarika plays a widowed woman in her 60s who invites a young jogger (Danesh Razvi) from the street below to her house for coffee. One thing leads to another…there is nothing here to get our attention beyond the “Mrs. Robinson” syndrome.
Finally, the weakest film in the anthology is Cutting Chai by Nupur Asthana. Chitrangda Singh plays a woman who neglected her career long enough for her husband Arshad Warsi to say mundane things like “Life is as simple or complicated as you make it”. Now the woman wants to bounce back. The storytelling is consciously fairy-like, with train station commuters suddenly transforming into chorus dancers. Suddenly, the wonderful Mita Vashisht appears whispering to Chitrangada, “You have it in you.”
I wish I could say the same about Nupur Asthana’s film. Overall, Modern Love is light to the touch and pleasant to look at. The image of Fatima Sana Shaikh cycling on a carefree flight over the world persists.
Also Read: Amazon’s Modern Love Review: Worth Investing In