After Akhtar’s in-depth exploration of the streets of Dharavi, with the Ranveer Singh starrer Gully Boy, Made in Heaven is Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s foray into the Indian wedding scene. Above all, this show is a testimony to their storytelling prowess and the capacity of their insight into different worlds.
In India, a person’s wedding is celebrated as the most important day of their life. It must be an ostentatious announcement to society so the couple can earn each person’s stamp of approval. Indian weddings are rarely just a celebration of love, often signifying much larger, more complicated types of announcements. Therefore, this day must be entirely, unerringly perfect in every way.
It is these murky waters that Amazon Prime Video’s Made in Heaven navigates. It follows two wedding planners, Tara Khanna (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan Mehra (Arjun Mathur), as they find new projects for their wedding planning business, Made in Heaven. Each of the nine episodes, while revealing more of the protagonists’ personal lives, follows a new wedding, showcasing couples with different mentalities and dynamics.
The script is among the best treats of the show. Most characters are memorable, well-defined, and show visible growth, even within the span of one episode. Instead of being a pointless foray into rich people problems, the show fairly depicts different issues surrounding a marriage – from infidelity to dowry and from ‘gold-digging’ to sexual assault. It explores themes like individuality and the struggle of self-identity; the compromises women make, and the ways they can feel trapped in happy lives; and the still-rampant class divide in Indian society. Hushed, never to be acknowledged conversations are boldly represented, the boundary between love and convenience in a marriage is succinctly blurred, and the showmanship involved in planning a wedding is humorously called out.
Again and again, Made in Heaven points out how characters plan a wedding for their guests and viewers instead of their love. Still, there is no easy black and white and characters are layered, well-represented and well-acted. Refreshingly for Indian mainstream production, the LGBTQ+ community is represented with humanity, instead of being a motif to be mocked or generalized, and portrayed terrifically by Arjun Mathur. Other stand out characters are Jaspreet (Shivani Raghuvanshi) who prefers Jazz, comes from humble backgrounds and is navigating the big, glamorous, South Delhi world; and Adil (Jim Sarbh) who manages to bring genuine tension and vulnerability to something as textbook as cheating on his wife with her best friend.
While the characters are nuanced and well-rounded, they are not easy to root for. After the first two episodes, once the recurring characters have been introduced, the newness fades. The show doesn’t create the absolute need to learn more about these characters’ lives, doesn’t make you fully emotionally involved. The world starts to feel like a drag, and for the most part, not watching further won’t make you feel like you’re missing out on anything vital; especially if the wedding scene isn’t something you’re particularly excited by. Also, seemingly unnecessary are the voiceovers about social commentary from Kabir (Shashank Arora), the agency’s videographer.
However, Made in Heaven still sets a new benchmark for web series originating in India, and excels in terms of light, binge-worthy entertainment.