Shonali Bose, Vishal Bhardwaj, Hansal Mehta, Alankrita Shrivastava, Dhruv Sehgal, Nupur Asthana
Fatima Sana Shaikh, Arshad Warsi, Chitrangda Singh, Pratik Gandhi, Naseeruddin Shah, Wamiqa Gabbi, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Masaba Gupta, Sarika, Tanuja, Ranveer Brar, Tanvi Azmi, Imaad Shah, Kashmira Irani, Ritwik Bhowmik, Prateik Babbar, Meiyang Chang, Flora Jacob, Mita Vashisht, Dolly Singh, Danesh Razvi, Shovon Jaman, Aadar Malik, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Rahul Vohra
What’s It About
‘Modern Love: Mumbai’ is a six-part anthology revolving around new-age love stories based on characters from the city of Mumbai. The anthology is a spin-off from the original Amazon Original ‘Modern Love’ which is set in New York and depicts similar new age love stories from the city of New York.
The story in pretty much all of the love stories is the king. Whether it is the Kashmiri girl finally getting out of the shadow of her husband and finding a life of her own or the older woman deciding to be open about having a fantasy-laden friendship with a guy who is almost 30-years younger than her – all the stories are very intricately written. They are simple to understand, and most of them are what an urban audience would easily associate with. That’s the beauty of the stories.
The direction of Shonali Bose, Vishal Bhardwaj, Hansal Mehta, Alankrita Shrivastava, Dhruv Sehgal, and Nupur Asthana is noteworthy where all of them have managed to tell a story in the day-to-day, regular and mundane way, yet managed to keep audiences engaged for the 40-45 minutes of each story. While each story has its own start and end, the directors decided to give a conclusion to all the stories at an end by showing what happens next in their lives. That was a way for them to show that all the stories were somehow connected to each other, and also the fact that there are a million different stories happening every day in front of each other in a city like Mumbai, and each one is totally oblivious of the other, yet have a great impact of that individual’s life.
Among the actors, Pratik Gandhi, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sarika definitely stand out, but the others are also not bad. What’s good is that none of the leads in any of the stories is a bonafide star, and therefore the entire story doesn’t just rest on their lone shoulders. It makes the entire story come out as a great watch and not just make the audience want to watch one specific segment because of the presence of a certain superstar.
Another striking factor which stands out is the music of the anthology. Not much has been explored in the music department of web series and OTT shows, but with ‘Modern Love: Mumbai’ the makers decided to give some good melodies to the audiences. In the Pratik Gandhi-Ranveer Brar story, the song by Sonu Nigam stays on with the viewer. Then there is a melancholic number at the end of the Masaba- Ritwik Bhowmik story which is something that the audience would want to catch up on later again.
The biggest drawback of ‘Modern Love: Mumbai’ is in its naming. While every story is in some way or the other set in Mumbai, there is not enough of the romance of Bombay in it. The characters are not falling in love because of Bombay, and makes the viewer feel like why was this even named this way? It could have been set in any small city or even any other metro, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference to the basic romantic plot of the story.
The other letdown is that there is nothing new to these romantic stories. As an avid watcher of Indian OTT content, audiences would have seen similar modern-day love stories in quite a number of other anthologies. Some short films by ‘Pocket Films’, ‘Dice Media’ and even ‘TVF’ had shown similar love stories based in Mumbai. Even a few Netflix India anthologies of the recent past have shown modern-day love stories. Therefore the novelty of setting up a romantic story in Mumbai is quite lost.
Another pertinent thing that came to notice is the love story shown in the Pratik Gandhi-Ranveer Brar short film. Why is it that every anthology in today’s time needs to have at least one story which has a gay relationship? Nothing wrong with the relationship. But, it seems like filmmakers are purposely trying to put an LGBTQ+ relationship in the storyline. Are they trying to be showcased as more liberal?
In the technical department, none of the short films had too great a cinematography. Most of them dwelled in real-life locations from different parts of Mumbai, Thane or nearby areas. Also, some of the stories could have been cut short by 5-10 minutes. Like the Fatima Sana Shaikh one or the Arshad Warsi-Chitrangda Singh one or the Masaba-Ritwik Bhowmik one – they were, sort of, dragging a bit in the middle, and the editing in these could have been a bit crisper so as to not let the audiences want to leave the film running and have a quick check on the incoming message on their phones.
Despite being good love stories, the stories don’t seem to have a lot to do with Bombay or why they’ve been set in the city. While the stories do take little aspects or problems faced by Mumbaikars, not even one story uses the city itself as the main plot in the romantic angle. Which begs the question – why was it named ‘Modern Love: Mumbai’? It could have been set in Kanpur, Bhopal or Jamshedpur and there wouldn’t have been much difference in the intrinsic love story shown in the plot of these short films. Leaving that aside, it is indeed a good breezy weekend watch.