We love the women of Modern Love Mumbai. here’s why!
Modern Love Mumbai, the anthology of human relationships, is as much about its nuanced and bittersweet complexities as it is about its women protagonists. Raat Rani, Baai, Mumbai Dragon, My Beautiful Wrinkles, I Love Thane and Cutting Chai, are all narratives powerfully driven by equally feisty women. Some subtly so and some boldly beautifully. They are characters that stay with you and each one resonates.
Dumped by a husband. Perception. Extreme affection bordering on strangling possessiveness. Fear of judgment. Lack of conviction. That helpless choking feeling of having to forgo your dreams. All the six women — Lali, Baai, Sui, Dilbar, Saiba and Latika — are metaphors for a million women. The wife, the matriarch, the mother, the lonely woman in denial, the young girl who wants to love and the woman who wants to fulfil her long-cherished ambition. They are women we all know and have met. We see them all around us. In our family and among our friends and peer groups. Close your eyes and stay with them for a minute and you will meet them all within you too. They are the thousand voices in our minds that we as women grapple with. Every day. They hold you back and also urge you to cut loose. Every minute.
Modern Love Mumbai romances the spirit of womanhood. In Raat Rani, when Lali’s husband leaves her one fine morning, she is in denial and does mourn the sudden void and begs for him to come back, but then decides to ace the ‘flyover’ and grows wings to freedom. Life does feel like a heavy burden just like lugging her bicycle up the steep incline of a flyover, but with dogged determination, she makes the flyover her own. And, blooms. Brilliantly portrayed by Fatima Sana Saikh, Lali is about courage against odds and discovering the spark that often gets dusted under life. In Baai, Tanuja is the matriarch who personifies strength of character, a refuge. She confronts murderous rioters during the Mumbai riots bravely and is evolved enough to embrace her grandson’s homosexuality. She believes in the power of love. Only that. Yeo Yann Yann is terrific as Sui in Mumbai Dragon, the mother who is overprotective of her son. He visits her every weekend and she packs tons of food for him to eat during the week. Sui dislikes his “vegetarian dayan” girlfriend and refuses to acknowledge her as part of the family. Laced with elements of comedy, Yann struggles to let go. Eventually, she learns to, gracefully with full acceptance. As does Dilbar in My Beautiful Wrinkles. Estranged from her husband, on the surface of it, Dilbar played by the lovely Sarika, leads her life the way she wants. Deep down she is lonely, feels unaccomplished and needs closure to a terrible personal tragedy. When a young boy confesses about his sexual fantasies to Dilbar, she flips and feels embarrassed and guilty. As she ponders over it, she too finds herself fantasising about the boy. Dilbar is given the woman’s gaze, languid and lilting. My Beautiful Wrinkles frees Dilbar of the taboo of stereotypes. The taboo of a younger man falling for an older woman. The taboo of an older woman’s desires. And, being judged for it. She eventually attempts to purge the demons of the past, forgive herself, give life another chance and move on.
Masaba Gupta’s Saiba in I Love Thane is looking for love and just when she thinks she’s found her man, life throws her a challenge. Saiba, however, takes the leap of faith and tells us why, we too, must, travel the distance if need be. She takes the lead and proposes. And, kisses, overturning the boy-has-to-propose-first cliche.
Cutting Chai’s Latika wants to become a writer but is stuck on Chapter 7. A marriage and two kids later. Her inner voices tell her to change if it is not working and that it’s all her fault. As she revisits her relationship timeline, something changes, but she gives ‘them’ another shot. Perseverance.
The anthology champions the spirit of sisterhood. All the women protagonists are rallied around by a tight group of understanding women, be it Lali’s employees or Dilbar’s girlfriends or Saiba’s best friend and Latika’s mentor. They are like support systems that reiterate her for her. They don’t judge you.
Modern Love Mumbai, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, has been directed by Shonali Bose, Hansal Mehta, Vishal Bhardwaj, Alankrita Shrivastava, Dhruv Sehgal and Nupur Asthana. Each director lends their women protagonists woohoo moments, viewing them with kindness and bestowing them with the benefit of doubt. And, never judging them.