Have you ever read a good book on a summer afternoon lying on a sofa or under a shade where you feel the cool breeze brushing your cheeks while the radio is playing your favourite song in the background? Modern Love Mumbai is that feeling.
This series takes you to another world. You know, it’s easy for a book or a film (in a theater) to transport you to an imaginary world. Where one lets you imagine a world of your own, the other hijacks your senses and makes you do whatever they want you to do, mentally and emotionally. But when it comes to a small screen, a screen as small as a smartphone, it’s very difficult to create a world that’s so real yet so wonderful.
The series opens with Shonali Bose’s, ‘Raat Rani’ that tells us a story of a Kashmiri girl whose husband of 10 years walks out on her. He just randomly mentions to her on the previous night that he is not enjoying life with her anymore. The twist comes when she finds him and he asks her to not move on as he might return as and when he wants. But Lali, as she puts it across, has already crossed the bridge and is now unstoppable. A kashmiri girl who has never tasted freedom finally stops chasing her husband who had ghosted her and starts living life on her own terms, making her own money and trying to live one dream at a time. It reminded me of Queen and at places, Jab We Met’s Geet but there is no story that has not already been told. Every writer and every director has the right to tell a story his/her way. And it’s presented well so nothing to worry about here. But, I loved other stories the most. The other five stories define Modern Love Mumbai for me.
Then comes Hansal Mehta’s, ‘Baai.’ A wonderful treatment given to a gay love story. It speaks of trauma without traumatizing you. It speaks of emotional suffocation without suffocating you. Eventually, it speaks of love and liberation by making acceptance so simple, straightforward, and I don’t know if this is the right word, but yes, by making acceptance so humble. Though it revolves around Manzu (Pratik Gandhi’s character), it is rightfully called Baai. That is the character authors wrote novels about. A strong female character coming from an era where she is supposed to be conservative but surprisingly, she is not. How I wish someday, someone writes a full-fledged story about Baai!
Besides this character, and of course, Pratik Gandhi who always delivers brilliant performances, one guy who amazed me was Ranveer Brar. When I saw him in the trailer, I thought he might either be doing a guest appearance or the director might have to cover it up for him. No, I am not looking down upon him. But he is not an actor and when you see a known personality in a film or a web series simply because people know him/her, you make your calculations. I am so glad I was wrong here. Ranveer’s performance was smooth and natural as if he has been acting for ages.
Third story is Vishal Bhardwaj’s, ‘Mumbai Dragon.’ The highlight of this episode is the Malaysian actress, Yeo Yann Yann, who played Sui, Ming’s (Meiyang Chang) mother. She steals the show. If there is a scene where she is not on the screen, you start missing her. She is fabulous. She is fantastic and I am totally in love with her. You know how when you see cute babies, you feel like kidnapping them. I feel the same for her.
If we keep Yeo Yann Yann’s amazing performance aside, this story is about a mother who is finding it difficult to accept the presence of another woman in her son’s life. It’s about her ongoing battle with herself. Among all the other stories, this is the funny one. Not the rofl kind but yes, you will have a wide smile on your face most of the time.
Next is Alankrita Srivastava’s, ‘My Beautiful Wrinkles.’ What a lovely story! Sometimes, healing begins with a confession. Not a grand, dirty one about your sins but a genuine, subtle confession about your feelings. This episode is all about a confession and healing that follows it. Dilbar Sodhi, who has turned bitter due to her past experiences, starts liking a guy much younger than her after he confesses that he fantasizes about her. What I loved the most about it is the way she immediately draws a line when it comes to both of them falling for each other. She accepts that she misses being loved and how she likes this young boy’s attention but knows that it has no future and hence decides to continue being friends with him while allowing herself to fantasize about her and vice-versa.
It was refreshing to see Sarika play Dilbar Sodhi. Her personality and her performance both breathed new life into that character.
Next, we have Dhruv Sehgal’s, ‘I Love Thane.’ Simple, relatable, and a lovely story. It’s written well, it’s directed well, it’s performed well. What else do we (the audience) need? When it warms your heart, keeps you glued, and also leaves you with a smile – the storyteller has already won the award. Masaba Gupta is, undoubtedly, natural. She fits into the character as if it was written for her.
Ritwik Bhowmik is a star. He lights up the screen with his mere presence. No, I am not talking about his looks here. I am talking about his screen presence and performance. His acting is not just flawless, it’s also effortless. Every character that he has played till now, he has actually become that character. You will never say that you just saw a shade of his past character in his current role. He is the true behrupiya – a perfect actor. May he get all the limelight he deserves.
The last episode in the Modern Love Mumbai series is Nupur Asthana’s ‘Cutting Chai.’ This is one of the cutest love stories of all. Sometimes, when you don’t get to do what you have always been wanting to do, it frustrates you to a level where you start questioning everything and everyone around you. It reaches a level where you start wondering whether things would have been different if you would have made better choices in the past. But then there comes a point where something in your present feels so good that you know, in that moment, that this is all you want for the rest of your life. The performances again are perfectly balanced which adds to the experience (of watching a wonderful short story).
I cannot wrap this review up before thanking the makers of this series for making me fall in love with Mumbai all over again. I revisited the days I used to roam the Churchgate station absorbing its beautiful vibe. Andheri as well.. How can I forget McDonald’s outside the station? My memories of (happily) eating alone right before boarding a train, spending some time alone, and observing the busy city life are mostly of Churchgate and Andheri stations. So yes, if you are a true Mumbaikar, you just cannot miss this Modern Love Mumbai web series. It will bring back a lot of memories and of course, a wide smile on your face.
Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video