With a disruptive theme, powerful social commentary, picturesque screenplay, and a compelling ensemble cast, Zoya Akhtar’s and Reema Kagti’s Made In Heaven easily became one of the best digital series from India to release in 2019. We watched Tara and Karan as they navigated the deceptively shimmery world of the affluent in South Delhi, promising soon-to-be-married couples the most aesthetic wedding, coming face-to-face with the hypocrisies of our society’s ‘elites’ while simultaneously battling their own struggles.
When a politically-motivated group of homophobic vandalists unleashed havoc at their office, Tara, having left her broken marriage, and Karan, having come to terms with his identity in a polarised world, hugged each other amidst their office’s wreckage, still hopeful of a better tomorrow, we rooted for the two best friends. And thereafter, we waited…endlessly with little to no faith that season 2 would ever become a reality, despite the rumours.
After over four long years, Made In Heaven S2 was finally released last week, leaving many of us speculating if it was worth the wait and hype. This time around we see two new GOLD additions to the Made In Heaven core team, namely Meher Chaudhry, the new production head, played by Dr Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju and Bulbul Jauhari, the auditor, played by Mona Singh.
While we undoubtedly see a great representation and an honest attempt to explore important subjects, the new season, however, fails in comparison to the previous one. Here why.
1. The life of the wedding planners and not the weddings they plan takes centre stage
Be it Tara pursuing a fair alimony or Karan having to deal with the piercing thought of not having been a good son to her dying mother, Meher, a driven transwoman, trying to navigate a normal life in a visibly transphobic world, or Bulbul’s struggling to raise her teenage son, the inner battles of each character take the centre stage whereas weddings take a backseat. Each wedding follows a familiar pattern of delving into one social subject at a time, however, the majority of the time, they appear as mere sub-plots in the central stories of each protagonist.
2. On-the-nose social commentary
From colourism to casteism to homophobia to transphobia to domestic violence to infidelity, the show ventures into multitudes of nuanced subjects scattered across the seven episodes to the extent that it becomes a challenge to cope with the show. The overdose of varied messaging running in tandem with one another appears all over the place, becoming preachy at many moments instead of offering compelling social commentary.
3. By the end of the season, you’re just detached
Tara and Kabir, two of my favourite core characters from season one, are the ones I ended up disliking the most in the concluding moments of season two. Kabir felt disengaged throughout, and Tara, even with her shades of grey, appeared outright selfish, as if her character arc in season one counted for nothing. Strangely, Faiza, someone I abhorred in season one, is also the person I end up feeling sorry about by the conclusion of season two. How very strange!
4. The prolonged length of each episode
With messaging overload, scattered plots and sub-plots, and the attempt to fit two weddings tackling a different social cause in one episode while simultaneously depicting the personal battles of every central character make watching the new season a lengthy and tiresome affair. The approximately 70-minute duration of every other episode surely doesn’t help!
5. Hurried conclusions
Throughout the season, it felt like the majority of time was allocated to building up every episode, establishing its core themes, and, in the process, its conclusion was rushed. It felt like they brushed past the social issues on the surface without addressing the core problem. in its entirety. For instance, tired of bearing the brunt of her husband’s polygamy, Dia Mirza’s character (the perfect Bollywoodie stereotype of a Muslim woman) decides to end her life, and after a life-changing conversation with Karan resolves to file a petition for her rights; all in last 10 minutes of the episode that also showcased the personal struggles of Karan and Jazz.
In another episode, the characters of Sameer and Neelam, individually cheating in their own marriages, having loved one another for years, realise their children don’t really love each other and abruptly make the decision to elope after spending the majority of the episode arguing against their relationship.
6. Kabir lost the plot
While excitedly waiting for the new season 10 days back, I wrote a piece collating Kabir Basrai’s effective social commentary in Made In Heaven S1. Unfortunately, my favourite character from the past season lost his eye for critique this time. We saw him routinely recording couples for their wedding videos, asking questions, learning of their red flags, all the while appearing preoccupied with his personal life and disinterested in the weddings per se. I read somebody describing how the commentary by Basrai felt like a monotonous summary instead of some poetic insight on the situation, and it perfectly sums up his existence in season 2.
Having said that, it was great to see a real-life transwoman portraying Meher’s character. There were also some particularly beautiful sequences, like the Dalit Buddhist Wedding in the episode that aptly exposed the biases in a society that makes pompous claims to be ‘progressive.‘ Made In Heaven S2 has its heart in the right place. However, I wish it was more tight-knitted.