In the crux of it, Made in Heaven can be summed up in the one-line Sobhita Dhulipala’s character says in the trailer— “it’s just a bunch of rich people getting married.”
The nine-episode Amazon prime original is an assortment of big, fat, rich, Delhi specific weddings over the backdrop of the lives of those few who make it happen at the wedding planning startup namesake – Made in heaven. Written by big wigs like Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar, the show follows Tara Khanna (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan Mehra (Arjun Mathur) as the proprietors of Made in Heaven through conflicted and morally ambiguous situations in their life and their work.
Every wedding they create for their clients creates for them even more complicated situations where they are forced to come to terms with their prejudices, social conditioning and often do things that would ideally not be a protagonists’ choice.
Nouveau riche, Tara Khanna is married to industrialist Adil Khanna, which has solidified her position in social strata but significantly lowered her sense of self-worth. Through intermittent flashbacks, we see that she comes from humble beginnings from a slightly more impoverished part of the capital and a single mother who wants surety that her daughters make it in the world. Karan Mehra’s character is a gay man who lives debt-ridden and alone in a building where his landlord seems to keep an eye on him. In his flashbacks, we get a glimpse of how he has had to struggle with internalised homophobia through his childhood and is now well into his 30s fighting the world’s bigotry. Be it Shashank Arora’s quirky wedding videographer, Shivani Raghuvanshi’s bubbly production assistant or Vinay Pathak’s guilt-ridden landlord, all the characters in the show are zip tight in their roles and make the show the excellent binge-worthy, state of the art Indian original it has quickly risen in fame for being.
Each fifty-minute episode gives you enough times to laugh, sob slightly and just about come to love and hate every single character. In fact, it is interesting to note that no character is written or directed as the ostensible good guy or hate-worthy antagonist. The show, though hyperbolic in its rich Delhi life, keeps us feeling like these are real people— people we know and probably even are ourselves.
Another significant facet of the show is its dedication to the gay-ness of Karan’s character. Unlike the rampant queer baiting we see in most stories of the subcontinent, Karan’s sexuality is not just a seeming foreshadow but an actual maker of the story of his life in the show, while also not being the only redeeming thing about his character.
In an interview with Hindustan times, director Nitya Mehra spoke about how liberating it is to make content for online streaming platforms as they are not subject to the often backward and stringent censorship laws of the country. It is this freedom which has let the creators of Made in Heaven explore love, sex, hesitation and passion among all the nuances of relationships either straight or homosexual.
Through all the social commentary the show has tried to touch, it has really only done justice to surface concepts of class and sexuality that the newest working and earning generation of the subcontinent has begun to come to terms with. The show teeters on the edges of the class divide but addresses no other intersection like caste to dig out the characters some more. We see the same with the representation of gay men as the English speaking, gym-going, intentionally masc. cis characters. Most episodes also end with an almost grating preachy narration by Shashank Arora’s character that attempts to make sure the point each episode is trying to make is drilled home to the audience. Apart from these and a conflicting plot-point use of the transgender hijra community in the final episode, the show seems like a good start in what could be a trend in creating ‘woke’ television for a new streaming platform with an even newer and younger growing audience base.
The episodes are directed in turn by four directors, Zoya Akhtar, Nitya Mehra, Prashant Nair and Alankrita Shrivastava, staying true to its aviators on a lehenga, Instagram worthy indo-western shaadi and receptions with the choreographed dances, the mimosas and of course scandal to the tune of ‘din shagna’.
The final episode crescendos and ties in the loose ends of the rest of the show’s storylines, giving it a sufficiently good packaging regardless of whether the show renews for another season.
The series is available to stream on Amazon Prime video.