Move over Indian Matchmaking and make way for Zoya Akhtar’s new show on Amazon Prime, Made in Heaven.
If you haven’t already seen it, it’s definitely a binge-worthy watch that highlights the issues surrounding modern day elite weddings in Delhi.
There's no surprise here that Zoya Akhtar, the director of many Bollywood hits including Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Gully Boy and Dil Dhadakne Do, produced yet another hit series.
This isn't the typical love story with a happy ending like in the typical Bollywood films we are used to. Instead, Made in Heaven depicts the not-so-glamorous side of Indian weddings that are often glossed over.
The series is centered on the wedding planning business for the uber-rich. It highlights the hypocrisies, prejudice and the backwards-thinking of India’s most affluent. Each episode follows a different family amid their conflicts.
Unlike many other Indian shows that glamorize big, extravagant weddings, this one instead displays the dark side of Indian weddings, including elitism, toxic masculinity, obsessions with social perceptions, infidelity, dowry and more.
The functioning of the patriarchy is demonstrated in the show through the actions of the male characters.
The men in the show tend to direct their rage towards women, demonstrating the many ways South Asian women are conditioned to appease to male entitlement.
If you thought Sima Taparia from Mumbai was your worst nightmare, in one episode of Made in Heaven, an Indian man located in America holds a pageant to find himself a wife.
That’s just one example of how Akhtar highlights the current social realities of India that no longer fit in mainstream narratives.
She also juxtaposes backwards ideals, with how she depicts concepts such as women’s empowerment and the patriarchy.
In the series, the main character named Tara, was an “outsider” that married rich but continues to struggle with her inner conflicts about where she fits in. In the show, she puts up the false pretence of pretending to be rich while feeling exhausted by it.
However, despite her own struggles she never hesitates to advocate for the rights of her employees and her female clients, even when it goes against the families’ demands.
Towards the end, we see Tara breakdown and let her guard down, in Akhtar’s subtle attempt to put an end to the notion of an obsession with the social perceptions of oneself.
Most of all, it shows our obsessions with social perceptions, our desire to belong in the most elite group of people, which is quite common in how weddings are often used to please and impress others in Indian culture.
Competition is human nature -- everyone wants to be the best and highest on the hierarchical ladder. Weddings have become a place for the elite to constantly project their wealth in order to mask their dark and difficult realities.
While I recognize that the problem of drug use exits in all of India, one critique I had was the writer’s depiction of drug use and addiction.
It seems to be a recurring trend in Indian film and TV where drug use among poorer individuals is seen as an addiction and something that is looked down upon, while on the other hand, it is glamorized when high status individuals are users.
At the same time, however, I personally like how the show brings light to these uncomfortable truths about Indian weddings in an attempt to bring social awareness to these issues.
It captures the conflicts between tradition and culture very well.
On a greater scale, the show illustrates the importance of breaking cultural and societal norms and increasing awareness of these issues that continue to prevail in our society today.
Check out the show on Amazon Prime to come up with a review of your own!
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