Made in Heaven Season 2:The series on expensive Indian weddings by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti still has its sharp social critique moments, but it also occasionally lags.
Without its ending voiceovers, no episode of Made in Heaven is ever complete, much like paan and sweetmeat at the end of a magnificent Delhi wedding. Of course, I’m referring to the depressing subtextual explanations provided by the moody cameraman for Shashank Arora.
An hour into the new season, he remarks that “a grim fairytale continues to haunt the capital city of Delhi,” sounding like an opinionated old buddy making a comeback on social media. He says, “I don’t believe marriages are made in heaven,” about halfway through. As boring and clear as these narrations are, they can be useful for reviewing an episode’s main points if you manage to lose track of it.
The first season of Made in Heaven, which was published in 2019 and was created by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti (with writer-director Alankrita Shrivastava working as a third constant), was a sharp satire of classist Delhi. It revealed layers of strength and conformity established in India’s corporate elite through the story of two crazy wedding planners. The luxury office of their “Made in Heaven” agency had been damaged and trashed by right-wing radicals by the time the season had concluded, leaving Tara (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan (Arjun Mathur) in confusion.
Six months after the incident, Tara and Karan return with us in Season 2, with Jauhari-ji (Vijay Raaz), who is now a working partner in their firm, helping them get back on their feet. As Jauhari’s wife and a strict auditor, Mona Singh joins the cast and gives the first episodes a delirious screwball zip. She thin shames Jazz (Shivani Raghuvanshi), asking, “You ordered three large burgers?” “With fries, too?”
Made in Heaven Season 2 (Hindi, English)
Creators: Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti
Cast: Sobhita Dhulipala, Arjun Mathur, Jim Sarbh, Kalki Koechlin, Shashank Arora, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Mona Singh, Vijay Raaz
Run-time: 60-75 minutes
Storyline: Delhi wedding planners Tara and Karan revive their ‘Made in Heaven’ agency while running up against newer and tougher social conflicts
The stress from their personal lives grows as Tara and Karan pick up some “big-fish” clients and gradually get back into the game. The homophobic mother of Karan, who has been emotionally blackmailed and is dying of cancer while refusing chemotherapy, is exploiting Karan’s adolescent sexual trauma. He goes on a downward cycle as a result, returning to gambling, collecting debt, and misusing drugs severely. Adil (Jim Sarbh), an industrialist, got back into an affair with Faiza (Kalki Koechlin), a childhood friendship, consequently Tara is divorcing him in the meantime. Tara gets convinced by her mother (a beautifully lived-in Manini Mishra), who is discouraged by the low settlement conditions, to demand a larger piece of the action.
Each of the seven-hour episodes centers on one or two weddings and tends to highlight certain conflicts. Dowry, ageism, superstition, and sexual assault were all topics that the first season of Made in Heaven discussed, and in some cases, addressed head-on. This time, it includes marital abuse, polygamy, racism, and unfair treatment based on caste. There are instances of sharp social criticism; the episode on domestic violence, for example, ends in a way that is both scary and instructive regarding the psychology of abuse. There are, however, some plotlines that stutter or fail to advance, such as a particularly confusing interlude in France.
The Ivy League-educated author and lawyer Pallavi (Radhika Apte), who is open about her Dalit background, travels from New York for her wedding in the fifth episode, which was directed by Neeraj Ghaywan. She wants a court wedding, but when her future in-laws demand on a traditional pheras ceremony, she also requests a Dalit wedding. Pallavi flips open a newspaper full of upper-caste matrimonials after her beau criticizes her of being “paranoid”; it’s the toughest, most confrontational episode of the entire series. Radhika Apte’s performance has the confidence of a Ghaywan heroine—Richa Chadha in Masaan, Konkona Sen Sharma in Ajeeb Daastaans—but the episode lacks the complexity and visual poetry of the director’s earlier work, despite looking fresh and challenging.
However, Made in Heaven gives its secondary and tertiary characters a lot of breathing room when their episodic melodies grow repetitive. When Adil’s half-sister appears, she stakes a similar claim to Tara. Jauhari’s eldest kid, who attends school, is the subject of a police investigation that was probably prompted by the Delhi ‘Bois Locker Room’ controversy. Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, a trans doctor-turned-actor, makes a remarkable debut in a notable role; after a few standard scenes that make up gender sensitization 101, her character effectively comes into her own. But Koechlin, one of our best actors who is so frequently relegated to the background, kept making me desire for more.
Dhulipala’s presence is somewhat hidden by the narrative density itself. A feature of the first season was her detailed and emotional portrayal of a socially ascensing female entrepreneur — the kind of East Delhi lady who attended grooming lessons and polished up her English to fit in. However, she only gets a few chances to shine here, as she is lost and driven into a legal battle. As competing factions, Tara, Adil, and Faiza are less effective than they were as a wild three. Mathur is dependable as always, retaining Karan’s sweetness, dignity, and humor. Raghuvanshi also observes a real development in jazz.
There are also enough guest spots in the episodes to fill a Farah Khan musical; choose from Sanjay Kapoor screaming, “What a place! What a place!” and Pulkit Samrat being cast in a movie by Anurag Kashyap while attempting to appear serious about it.
An interviewee tells Arora’s camera, “Same-sex marriage is not legal in India.” Another heads in agreement and says, “They will be. It will be interesting to watch how this optimism lines up with reality on the ground… and how soon, given that the Supreme Court has reserved its decision on applications seeking official recognition for gay marriages. With Made In Heaven, Akhtar and Kagti have produced a thoughtful, forward-thinking series. We can only hope that it won’t come out as wishful.