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Made in Heaven, said to be one of the best Amazon original series, is conceptualised by the dynamic duo, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, who are successful in breaking the barriers and setting new benchmarks with each new release, may it be Gully Boy or Dil Dhadakne Do. The nine-episode series is directed by Zoya Akhtar, Nitya Mehra, Prashant Nair and Alankrita Shrivastava, who weave a story around Tara (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan (Arjun Mathur), and their wedding planning company Made in Heaven. Each episode introduces a new family and a story, with a set of reiterating characters – the leads’ families, friends and the employees of Made in Heaven.

While the centre of the series remains the rich and elite class of Delhi, the focus of Made in Heaven remains the issues which are often swept under the carpet and closeted. Problems like dowry, homosexuality, the search of a ‘pure’ bride, beauty pageants to look for brides, honour killings, molestation, questionable Indian customs and the class divide of India can be seen to be dealt with the clients and their idea of marriage.

The narrative not only addresses these issues but also leaves much space for the viewers for contemplation and self-interrogation of the society, their identity, customs, beliefs and marriage as an institution. However, there is still a gap in the show – it remains distant from dealing with the caste problem. The clients of the elite class, even with their education and privileges, restrict the meaning of marriage to mutual concessions and compromises in the name of honour, money and class.

the narrative not only addresses these issues but also leaves much space for the viewers for contemplation and self-interrogation of the society, their identity, customs, beliefs and marriage as an institution.

Indian marriages are synonymous to grandeur and ‘show-baazi’, but here the spotlight is on stories of the characters, where they come from and what they believe in. None of the characters are perfect. There is no single character which can be placed within the binary of a ‘good’ human or a ‘bad human’. The leads of the show are flawed and each character has their own struggles to deal with, everyone has their own mess to deal with. It is the humanness of the characters and the realness of the stories that make this show such a success.

This series is more feminist than most of the series released in recent times. Until now, the shows that have termed themselves ‘feminist’ often restrict female character development arcs to their sexuality. I am not saying that being in control of one’s sexuality is not feminism, but I would also want to say that it is not just that. Here Faiza (Kalki Koechlin), Jazz (Shivani Raghuvanshi) and Tara (Sobhita Dhulipala) are each sexually independent but also at the same time, much more than that.

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Faiza, a character whom you don’t know whether to pity, to sympathise with or to be angry at. Jazz, the sly girl from Dwarka, with her struggles of fitting in the South-Delhi elite crowd and being the sole bread earner of the family, is strong and vulnerable at the same time. The same struggles of fitting in are visible in Tara’s journey. The character has so much depth – her identity crisis and her struggles of coming from a ‘middle-class’ family and settling into a rich class create a nuanced character. Her mother taught her that her beauty was the only pass of guaranteeing her and her family a better life. Her beauty was an instrument to marry into a particular class. Women who come from a poor family and marry a rich man, are said to be ‘gold-diggers’. Can we ever think above the binaries?

The leads of the show are flawed and each character has their own struggles to deal with, everyone has their own mess to deal with.

Karan is more than a token gay character who steps beyond the hetero-normative structures of the society. While his life is full of secrets and ‘shame’, he doesn’t fear owning his sexuality. He acknowledges his privileges of being an educated, upper-middle class person in Delhi and the time he realises the consequences he had to face in the jail in spite of this, is one of the turning points of both the series and his life. There is a scene where a ‘mehndi vali’, who is sexually assaulted by a rich powerful man, is offered money in exchange for her silence on the crime done to her. The entire situation echoes the #MeToo movement and the power imbalances that women are often victim to.

On the other hand, we see Adil (Jim Sarbh), who is a rich, heterosexual man who cheats on his wife and has an affair with his wife’s best friend. The subtle sexism can be seen through his character multiple times, when Tara asks him to get himself tested as they can’t seem to get pregnant and he simply shrugs it off. The way he treats the people who are of lower class is telling of his prejudices. We are also introduced to the landlord of the house in which Karan lives, who has led a closeted life, which a lot of homosexual men do in fear in our homophobic society.

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There is a filter between the lives that we see on the show and our lives, but the filter is as hazy as the filter that we have put on our eyes to see marriage as a holy tradition. The lives of the characters, when viewed from the outside seem to be different from ours. Maybe it is class differences or ideological differences, but we judge everything when we see it from the outside. Is marriage as holy as our upbringing has taught us to believe? Are our identities what we have been conditioned to believe in? Are our beliefs merely based on something passed on to us or taught to us by our parents or families? Are the customs what makes marriage a marriage? If not, what makes a marriage? Is it really made in heaven? The Amazon Prime special gets us thinking.


Featured Image Source: The News International

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