The language of Love is universal, but one cannot deny that the landscape it is set in does add flavour. Amazon’s Indian adaptation of Modern Love is all that defines the feeling of having butterflies in your tummy, or how the emotions age like fine wine. But the twist is that they explore love in the various parts of India. After a successful and celebrated Mumbai version, the platform has come up with the Hyderabad version and there is heart, longing, love, and a lot of it again. But a very less of Hyderabad and that is bothering. So let’s begin and see what the six shorts have the offer out of which three belong to Nagesh Kukunoor!
WHY DID SHE LEAVE ME THERE…?
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor.
Cast: Suhasini Maniratnam, Advitej Reddy Chaklet and Naresh Agastya
Love is of course a thing to treasure, but sometimes love also means letting go. A thought that is the most difficult to implicate in our lives, and Nagesh Kukunoor in his first short explores the same. The dynamic is not that of two lovers here, but a women and her grandchild. Played by a phenomenal Suhasini Maniratnam, the grandmother has tasted the sourest lemon life has to offer and seen almost her entire family perish in front of her eyes. And now she is left alone with a little boy who is unaware of the turmoil his life is in. How do you make sure that your heir gets a life even after you are gone, by letting him go. The emotions are raw and had me in tears.
The writing at no point judges any of its characters because everyone had a reason for what they did. While the present story looks a little on the surface, it is the past that holds all the weightage. My God, what brilliant actor Suhasini is and how beautifully Advitej Reddy Chaklet compliments her act making it a moving watch. It isn’t a beginner’s job to shine when Maniratnam is in the frame, Advitej is a miracle for his age.
FINDING YOUR PENGUIN…
Director: Venkatesh Maha.
Cast: Komalee Prasad.
The most confusing of them all, Finding Your Penguin is a very interesting narrative kind of lost in translation. A girl who has just come out of a long relationship because her partner cheated on her and is trying to move on. But she now has a philosophy in life and she looks at herself as an animal who is hunting for another to mate. She is a microbiologist and it is an interesting take to add a humorous angle like such. But that angle so randomly rushes in and out that it at a point confuses you because you aren’t aware of what those animals signify.
Komalee Prasad’s Indu is a great character though. It is always good to see filmmakers exploring women’s desires without making them look like they are s*x deprived. The film hits a gold in that department. Devika Bahudhanam writes some of the most hilarious dialogues for this one.
MY UNLIKELY PANDEMIC DREAM PARTNER
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Cast: Revathy and Nithya Menen.
The best and the only story that brings out the essence of Modern Love: Hyderabad and tells a story that is blended in the landscape, so much so that it couldn’t be told anywhere else. It is about a strained relationship between a mother and her daughter over the fact that the daughter chose to marry a boy from a different community. Nithya plays Noori who is a free-spirited atheist who wants to live life on her own terms. Here mother Mehrunisa though a very kind-hearted woman is strict about the rules her religion sets for her and wants Noori to follow them too. Thus the conflict.
Nagesh Kukunoor takes his own time for this story to marinate and become the beauty it does. It is about cultural harmony, a pandemic that brings people together regardless of their religion or biases, and food that works as a glue between them. There’s so much of Hyderabad in each frame that even the food signifies the landscape. Also, the climax is so endearing that I paused the frame and kept looking at it. Do I need to tell you how amazing Nithya and Revathy are?
ABOUT THAT RUSTLE IN THE BUSHES
Director: Devika Bahudhanam.
Cast: Ulka Gupta and Naresh.
A woman trying to find love in Hyderabad and her father stalking her so he can look and analyse all the potential boyfriends/husbands she meets. The premise sounds like many comedy movies, doesn’t it? But what Devika Bahudhanam excels in here is adding a more nuanced touch to it. She writes her protagonist Sneha played by Ulka Gupta without a moral police around her. She is open to meeting many dates through a matrimonial app and not really judging herself or letting others. Soon enough we are told why she is so unsure about the men and what exactly holds her back.
This one is a very interesting premise that moves to a tragic/beautiful end. But I actually can’t decide if the decision to have someone dead in the end of a story like this was wise or not.
WHAT CLOWN WROTE THIS SCRIPT!
Director: Uday Gurrala.
Cast: Abijeet Duddala and Malavika Nair
This one from Modern Love: Hyderabad is the oddest ball. While it is about two people from a very unique background coming together, what the movie tries to say isn’t convincingly translated on the screen. A TV producer who is done with his job of creating regressive content every day, wants to bring a revolution and join OTT. He ropes in a stand-up comedian and they fall for each other while creating the show.
The show falls apart and she leaves him because she feels “there can’t be a us without the show”, why? As in if you are in love, how does the show matter? First of all in what sense is this story Hyderabad centric? Just because of the Telugu TV connect? But that could easily have been any other TV industry and wouldn’t have made much difference.
FUZZY, PURPLE AND FULL OF THORNS
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Cast: Aadhi Pinisetty and Ritu Varma
Another story that could be anywhere instead of Hyderabad. This is Nagesh Kukunoor experimenting. As a standalone idea that a person makes a fuss out of a thing that is inconsequential and ruins a beautiful relationship, is a very ideal one. Add to it the fact that the irritated is a cartoonist and then paint her thoughts in an animated world. It does get funny, but never enough to love it to the tee.
There is a pair of weird purple heels and they create all the problem because they belong to Renuka’s (Ritu Varma) boyfriend Uday’s (Aadhi) ex and he is adamant about throwing them away. Well, while it is an interesting thought, we are never told what has kept him so much attached to those heels. Uday is never explored much and it is Renuka who is always at the forefront. While it serves as a small column in some funny segment of a newspaper, the entire short feels like it lacks something all the time.
Modern Love Hyderabad Review: Last Words:
There are talented storytellers, prolific actors, and an able team that has come together to create this. While love is evident, the city it is set in isn’t. The anthology definitely deserved much more of Hyderabad. Like every short in Mumbai has the touch of the city. With some misses and hits, you can give this a chance.
Want more recommendations? Read our She Season 2 Review here.