Modern Love Mumbai Review: An anthology that will make your heart smile with its relatability and charm
Modern Love MUmbai
Love stories from all over Mumbai come together in an anthology free of race, gender, age or sexuality.
- Shonali Bose
- Fatima Sana Shaikh,
- Pratik Gandhi,
- Ranveer Brar,
- Ritvik Bhowmik,
- Masaba Gupta,
- Prateek Babar,
- Yeo Yann Yann,
- Naseeruddin Shah,
- Meiyang Chang,
- Waqima Gabbi,
- Chitrangada Singh,
- Arshad Warsi,
- Danesh Razvi
- Romance, Comedy
- Amazon Prime Video
The acclaimed anthology series Modern Love now has its own Mumbai version. The anthology series which has arrived on Amazon Prime Video has 6 acclaimed filmmakers romanticise Mumbai as it lives and breathes. For once Bollywood rises above its cliché definition of romance – boy meets girl, they fight for love and persevere – and Modern Love Mumbai showcases how there’s no one recipe for love.
Shonali Bose (Raat Rani), Hansal Mehta (Baai), Dhruv Sehgal (I Love Thane), Vishal Bharadwaj (Mumbai Dragon), Nupur Asthana (Cutting Chai), and Alankrita Shrivastava (Beautiful Wrinkles) have defined love through their own lens. Even with their own flaws, these stories make your heart smile seeing individual characters set out on their own journeys of self discovery.
Shonali Bose’s Raat Raani featuring Fatima Sana Shaikh is perhaps one of the most beautiful stories of the lot. The biggest reason for saying this is because the story is journey of learning loving oneself before anyone else. You instantly fall in love with Fatima Sana Shaikh as Lali who is a cook who embraces each moment, loves mawa ice-cream and one day hopes to take a shorter route home via the sea-link which is strictly ‘not allowed’ for people like her who can’t afford a four-wheeler.
In one fell swoop her life falls apart as her husband, Lutfi, abandons her taking away their life’s only luxury, his scooter and leaves her with a home with a fallen roof and bicycle. Like Raat Rani, Lali blossoms in the darkest phase of her life as she learns how to cross this bridge with only her bicycle for company. This love story isn’t only rare nod to self-love but also one that gives you hope that sometimes you are all you need.
Hansal Mehta’s Baai, on the other hand, marks the representation of the LGBTQ community in the anthology. While the love story between Manzu (Partik Gandhi) a singer and Rajveer (Ranveer Brar) a chef in Goa is at the heart of the narrative, it is Tanuja playing Manzu’s beloved Baai [grandmother] who steals the show above all. Manzu is gay and his family knows it and is ashamed of it. However, his brave heart Baai who wants nothing more than to see him find love is the only one in the dark. As Manzu arrives home from Goa, he is haunted by memories past of how he could never be truly loved for who he is by his parents.
While he has moved on, met the love of his life and got married he still isn’t fulfilled as it is a joy, he can’t share with his Baai who always stood up for him.
Tanuja, seen on the screen after a long time in Baai, captivates you with her performance. Pratik Gandhi and debutant Ranveer Brar’s chemistry as a couple is palpable but defuses when a desperate attempt is made to make the physical intimacy between the two men look real. The two actors look awkward trying to kiss in a scene while already having physically concealed their faces from the camera. The scene, in fact, was entirely not required but does dent this beautiful tale.
Alankrita Shrivastava’s My Lovely Wrinkles is another perfectly imperfect tale that takes you on a journey of embracing yourself. Sarika plays Dilbar a librarian in her 60’s who lives alone and is set in her ways with her own beliefs about love until a young man Kunal (Danesh Razvi) who she’s coaching for a job interview admits to her how he is sexually attracted to her. While Dilbar sends him on his way, she tries to envision herself through his eyes and wants to give herself another chance of falling in love.
While the story is about loving and living the one life that we have, My Lovely Wrinkles deserves praise for keeping it real. A scene between Dilbar and her friends where she tells them about her young admirer particularly sums this fact well. While our protagonist is uncomfortable about being propositioned by a man 30 years younger, her friend reminds her of one male acquaintance who openly dating a much younger woman and is not embarrassed at all about it. These are norms of a society which we seldom sit to think about where women are made to feel ashamed about aspects of their lives which men can openly embrace.
In striking contrast is Masaba Gupta playing Saiba in Dhruv Sehgal’s I Love Thane which is about a career-oriented landscape designer who is still looking for her perfect modern man at 34 while her best friend is going through a divorce. As Saiba’s dating life on an app becomes the bane of her existence, she lands a government project in her childhood neighbourhood Thane and meets Parth ( Ritwik Bhowmik ) on the job whose aspirations in life begin and end with this part of Mumbai which she had left behind long ago.
While her life looks easy around Parth, Saiba gains new perspective about her big city life and if it is really all worth it.
Ritvik Bhowmik is a show stealer with his restrained performance as man with simple aspirations in life living on the fringes of a city bustling with opportunity. Masaba’s act delivers the dilemma of modern single women in their 30’s perfectly.
Another story about embracing change is Vishal Bharadwaj’s Mumbai Dragon which is the short to watch out for in the six episodes of Modern Love Mumbai. The story of a mother and son who are descendants of dying the Chinese community in the city. While Sui ( Yeo Yann Yann ) knows how to express love through food, it is all for her son Ming (Meiyang Chang). As he visits her with his girlfriend Megha (Waqima Gabbi), Sui vows never to speak another word of Hindi till her son learns to live by her expectations - marry a girl from their community and become a dentist as she had always hoped he would.
While story might seem 2 States like on the surface, the performances elevate the narrative with Yeo Yann Yann delivering a delightful performance as Sui. The actress single headedly overshadows the entire cast of this anthology playing a mother coming to terms with a new chapter in her son’s life. Meiyang Chang, Waqima Gabbi and Naseeruddin Shah deliver promising performances and cameos by Anurag Kashyap and Imaaduddin Shah make this short a package full of surprises and never-ending delights.
The anthology wraps up with Nupur Asthana’s Cutting Chai where after 20 years of marriage Chitrangada’s character Latika regrets not being able to fulfil her dream of being a published author being caught up in her responsibilities as a mother of two and a wife to her ever delayed husband Daniel ( Arshad Warsi ). Waiting for him to turn up at the station one day, she wonders what life choices led her here and if she would have had achieved her dreams had she not been introduced to Daniel and his cutting chai.
It is a short yet sweet wrap up to the anthology but what disappoints in this finale is the classic Modern Love style coming together of all characters. While each love story meets a satisfying ending, the last scenes showing where they are look crammed in and abrupt.
While that is not sufficient reason to miss out on this beautiful anthology that has Mumbai running as the common thread in all stories, there certainly are stories you would like or relate more to than the others.
Modern Love Mumbai is not perfect but it is all heart, so if you are looking to catch a break from all the testosterone fuelled films on the big screen, here’s something that you can watch and home and let your heart smile.