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Modern Love: Mumbai on Amazon Prime video is the first of three Indian adaptations of the American rom-com series. The Tamil-language Modern Love: Chennai, and the Telugu-language Modern Love: Hyderabad will release later this year.

Raat Rani

Directed by Shonali Bose. Starring Fatima Sana Shaikh, Bhupendra Jadawat, and Dilip Prabhavalkar.

Raat Raani (night flowering jasmine) is a stunner!

Shaikh’s character as Lali Zari, who elopes with Lutfi to seek new horizons, is luscious! She is a simple young girl, with her head draped in a floral Kashmiri scarf, and cute pronunciation. But the poor girl loses her dashing husband, who runs away with the scooter. Lali is left to chase her dreams alone. She kicks and screams and then picks up a rickety bicycle and propels herself forward! Her antics on the Bandra Sea Link were just out of this world!

Baai

Directed by Hansal Mehta. Starring Tanuja Samarth, Pratik Gandhi, and Ranveer Brar.

The episode, with with Tanuja as Baai (girl), brought back memories of the now-crumbling old-world charm of Muslim mansions in South Bombay.

The story is a cry for help by a sensitive young man. Manzu (Pratik Gandhi) is ousted from his family and city because of his sexual inclination. He meets Ranbeer (Ranveer Brar) who plays a gourmet chef in Goa. His mannerisms, his eyes, and love just pour into dishes like nihari, yakhni pulao and silky seviaan. But the show is stolen by the matriarch Baai, who leaves us with an important message of acceptance, love and inclusivity.

Mumbai Dragon

Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj. Starring Yeo Yann Yann, Meiyang Chang, Wamiqa Gabbi, and Naseeruddin Shah.

By far the best of the series: I laughed so hard that I cried. The opening scene is dark and gives you the chills. But it pulls the viewer into the belly of the dragon. Placed in South Mumbai’s Chinatown, the story is of a clingy single mother Sui (Yeo Yann Yann) and a caretaker of an ancient Chinese temple.

Sui has been through a lot in her life. But the final straw is when her dentist/doctor son Ming (Meiyang Chang) moves to the suburbs. She tries to keep him tied to her umbilical cord by packing four dabbas of Cantonese cuisine for him. But Sui loses it completely when Ming’s Jain girlfriend (Wamiqa Gabbi) comes home and wants to eat cornflakes with milk. Sui is scandalized by this vegetarian daayan but cooks her a stir-fried Chinese eggplant.

I was enchanted by Meiyang Chang: his comfort in the role, the heartwarming singing voice, and his excellent Urdu pronunciation. To add Naseeruddin Shah as a Cantonese speaking Sardarji was hilarious. Mumbai Dragon is about letting go, as Mr. Chang told me in an interview. But this film seeps into my being, just like the magic and atmosphere of the Mumbai monsoons.

My Beautiful Wrinkles

Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava. Starring Sarika, Danesh Razvi, Ahsaas Channa, and Tanvi Azmi.

The episode left me confused. Sarika plays the gorgeous Dilbar Soni, well-ensconced in her beautiful sea-facing flat in Colaba. The glorious view of the Arabian Sea was a treat. But I did not comprehend the vibe of stillness in the film.

Alankrita Shrivastava’s message to older women is to live their life to the fullest. Her message – to let go of old guilt and self-doubt – is admirable. In the episode, older ladies deck out in their finery, play cards and discuss sex. Sarika does justice to the role in her voluptuous wholeness. But I wanted Kunal (Danesh Razvi) to linger longer, rather than move to Malad.

I Love Thane

Directed by Dhruv Sehgal. Starring Masaba Gupta, Ritwik Bhowmik, Prateik Babbar, Aadar Malik, and Dolly Singh.

I have enjoyed watching Dhruv Sehgal’s prior series Little Things, and I love that Thane is simple and easygoing in the same vein. Thirty-something freelance horticulturist Masaba Gupta goes on endless dates with men on dating apps, in a futile attempt to find Mr. Right.

When she is catfished and ghosted, she decides to focus on her career. On a government assignment, she drives to Thane, a far-flung suburb of Mumbai, where she meets Parth (Ritwik Bhowmik).

Parth has never left Thane in his entire life, and has no intention of ever doing so.

The two grow accustomed to each other. It feels uncomplicated, like old times when people slowly fell in love because it was comfortable.

Love, as Ritwick and Dhruv explained in their interview with me, is also about being comfortable with someone. This story is about not having to pretend or judge. I loved the sparkle in Ritwick’s eye when he talked about misal pao, and Masaba’s impromptu flower-wrapped chignons.

Cutting Chai

Directed by Nupur Asthana. Starring Chitrangada Singh and Arshad Warsi.

Warsi as Danny, with his theatrics and quick change of tone, is delightful. And like Latika (the lovely Chitrangda Singh) I was apologizing to the young actors that I wish I wrote more. Even though I don’t have to deal with kids’ homework, maids, doodh wallas and dhobis, I am not writing as much as I should! Perhaps moving to Mumbai, into the heart of humidity, culture and chaos would help me finish my novel? But for now, a cup of cutting chai has done the trick and helped me finish this review. I adored the way Latika’s characters circle, sing and talk to her on the railway platform! 

Modern Love: Mumbai is made by Pritish Nandy Communications, who is best known for Four More Shots Please! on Prime video. The new series does capture the yin and yang of Mumbai, and leaves you wanting for more! 



Monita Soni

Monita Soni grew up in Mumbai and works as a pathologist in Alabama. She is well known for her creative nonfiction and poetry pieces inspired by family, faith, food, home, and art. She has written two...