‘Made in Heaven’ Unmasks The Pretend Civility Of Our Genteel Society
In India, marriage is not just tradition, custom or a coming-of-age moment in one’s life. It is a state of mind. Often times, the clock starts ticking as soon as women are in their 20s, they are spoken about in hushed silences at social events, ploys are hatched to set a ‘good girl’ up with an eligible bachelor where her morals and home science skills must speak louder than her professional accomplishments. And by god’s grace, where an alliance is set, the show of opulence is set to action like falling dominoes.
Especially in the upper echelons of the Indian society, where weddings practically take place at an industrial scale – fancy locations, themed décor, imported wine, high-profile performers, customized gifts for every attendee, the celebration seems less about the couple and more about an obscene display of wealth. An effort to outshine and outplay the other party at every step. And giving us a bird’s eye view to this glorious mess is the new show, Made in Heaven.
Written and helmed by firebrand filmmakers Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti and Alankrita Srivastava, Made in Heaven, follows the lives of two wedding planners, Tara Khanna (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan Mehra (Arjun Mathur) as they go about organizing one outrageous wedding after another. We see the typical millionaire Punjabi mom being worried sick that his son’s fiancé has trapped him for his wealth, a woman in her 60s being shamed by her own kids for choosing to get married at an older age, a bride walking out of her wedding because the groom’s family wouldn’t stop blackmailing her parents for dowry, and my personal favourite – an NRI man and his parents conducting a pageant in Ludhiana to find the perfect bride.
In its bare bones, the series highlights the outrageous pressure we put on women to adhere to the idea of a demure Indian bride. While some toil away at grooming schools to marry up the ladder, we find a woman educated at Wharton agreeing to get married to a tree by because she is manglik, and a pilot after being married into a royal household vehemently denying allegations of a mehendiwali being sexually assaulted by her father-in-law at her own wedding.
In its bare bones, the series highlights the outrageous pressure we put on women to adhere to the idea of a demure Indian bride.
Speaking about the idea of exploring flawed marriages in their work, the makers said at an interview, “It’s not an easy institution. In India, marriage seems to be a solution for a lot of things, and we wanted to turn the idea on it on its head.”
At the center of the narrative is of course, the poised Tara whose seemingly perfect marriage to the influential industrialist Adil Khanna (Jim Sarbh) is beginning to fall apart. And the charming Karan, whose life as an openly gay man in modern India is challenged and violated by the country’s archaic laws and the society’s harrowingly conservative mindset.
Made in Heaven humanizes a marriage, it makes one realise that like any inter-personal relationship it takes effort. Although the show is exquisite in its production, it affirms that a grand wedding might not necessarily lead to ‘a happily ever after’. Like Akhtar’s recent film, Gully Boy, this series too delves into the idea of class and how it restricts people from living their lives without constantly apologizing for where they come from.
Made in Heaven humanizes a marriage, it makes one realise that like any inter-personal relationship it takes effort.
Breaking away from the histrionics of television drama, this series tries to unmask the pretend civility of our genteel society and depict characters whose motivations maybe questionable, but not their quest for happiness.
The views expressed are the author’s own.