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Modern Love Hyderabad: 3 shorts that go beyond romantic love and are a must watch

The anthology series, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, successfully captures cultural diversity in class, gender and social factors

Saikat Chakraborty Calcutta Published 12.07.22, 05:54 PM
Stills from ‘Modern Love Hyderabad’.

Stills from ‘Modern Love Hyderabad’. YouTube/ Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video’s Modern Love Hyderabad, an adaptation of essays from the weekly New York Times column that recently served as the inspiration for Modern Love Mumbai, focuses on a small number of themes while exploring love in forms beyond the romantic.

Familial relationships hold a key as the anthology takes a look at the larger role of love in our lives, such as that between mother and daughter, or the bond between a child and his grandma.

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The six heartwarming stories are set in the city of pearls, biryani and the Charminar, which helps capture the diverse nature of the stories in terms of religion, caste and class.

All episodes of this series are written by Nagesh Kukunoor, Shashi Sudigala and Bahaish Kapoor, who effectively evokes the atmosphere of Hyderabad, almost treating it as a protagonist.

Each episode focuses on this city throbbing with vitality and steeped in cultural past – from the crowded alleys of the old town to the luxurious parties of Banjara Hills to the heart of Hyderabad, Hussain Sagar.

In this series, food occasionally serves as an outward sign of affection, and not as a connecting thread like in Modern Love Mumbai.

Still from 'My Unlikely Pandemic Dream Partner' segment of 'Modern Love Hyderabad'.

Still from 'My Unlikely Pandemic Dream Partner' segment of 'Modern Love Hyderabad'. YouTube/ Amazon Prime Video

Here are three stories we recommend for a watch

Three of the six stories in this series revolve around parental love, its meaning, reconciliations and rediscoveries. Showrunner Nagesh Kukunoor, who has directed three of the six episodes in Modern Love Hyderabad, centres two of them around parental love.

My Unlikely Pandemic Dream Partner: Directed by Kukunoor, My Unlikely Pandemic Dream Partner is by far the best story in the collection. Set in the Muslim milieu of the old city, the story revolves around a newly bereaved woman who visits her estranged daughter to try to patch up their strained relationship.

Revathy and Nithya Menen give flawless performances as the mother and daughter who are stuck in the latter’s home in 2020 owing to the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. Kukunoor uses the vast array of Hyderabadi cuisine to great effect to symbolise a mother’s affection as they both heal their individual and collective scars.

Why did she leave me there…? : Kukunoor’s second short, Why did she leave me there…?, uses melodrama to convey the longing of an orphan seeking to process his childhood trauma after achieving success in life. The story adopts a conventional approach about a corporate super-achiever and self-help guru who visits the orphanage where his ageing grandmother had left him as a child.

About That Rustle in the Bushes: Directed by Devika Bahudhanam, a dad spies on her grown daughter as she dates boys after a traumatic incident in this short. However, this story of a father’s constant stalking of his daughter is also presented in the guise of parental love.

Still from 'Why did she leave me there…?' segment of 'Modern Love Hyderabad'.

Still from 'Why did she leave me there…?' segment of 'Modern Love Hyderabad'. YouTube/ Amazon Prime Video

In the other three shorts – Venkatesh Maha’s Finding Your Penguin, Kukunoor’s In Fuzzy Purple and Full of Thorns and Uday Gurrala’s What Clown Wrote This Script! – contemporary romantic love and its highs and lows loom large. But these three, centred around urban, affluent youngsters, come across as a little whimsical and half-baked.

Although as an anthology Modern Love Hyderabad presents the cultural diversity in class, gender and social factors, it kind of skims over the complexities of contemporary relationships that are the hallmark of the famed New York Times column.

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