Taj Mahal 1989 Review: Have we forgotten to love? or The definitions have changed with time? Or there is a decided time frame to do it? Starring talented actors including Neeraj Kabi, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Danish Hussain, Sheeba Chadda, Anud Singh Dhaka, Paras Priyadarshan, and Anshul Chauhan, Netflix’s new show portrays different shades of love answering all the above questions in the rawest form possible and let me say this in the very beginning, I am in love with the show.
What’s Taj Mahal 1989 About?
Set in 1989, on the verge when India was just about to witness liberalization and there was no internet, Taj Mahal 1989 is the story of love in the crowded lanes of Lucknow where love was in letters, sepia-toned visuals and the monument that happens to be the token for the world. Portraying different shades of love through 3 main plots and many sub ones, it shows Akhtar Baig and Sarita Baig (Neeraj and Geetanjali) a married couple stuck in a loveless relationship. Dharam, Rashmi and Angad (Paras, Anshul and Anud) a trio in college trying to sort their lives.
The third is Sudhakar Mishra and Mumtaz (Danish and Sheeba) a couple who is wrong in the gaze the society throws at them but who cares. Love is what binds them and that is all they need.
Firstly let’s just appreciate the fact that Pushpendra Nath Misra and the team of Taj Mahal 1989 have let the story brew and created characters that are layered, relatable, flawed but in love and it does not necessarily have to be the one-line definition for everyone.
The writing deserves the complete credit for edging out each character with traits in mind. I can go on about them for ages. A man who is into philosophy (Neeraj), he legit talks about his literary idols like they are his neighbours and expects people to know them easily. But when it comes to love, he seems to have lost the touch. His wife (Geetanjali) craving for love, unlike her husband she is not looking for it in some fantasy land of words but for real.
A trio consisting of a boy who talks about sex like he is starving for it all the time (Anud). But when a girl approaches first, he knows his boundaries and does not cross them. Another loves power (Paras) but his girlfriend (Anshul) is bold enough to speak the truth and accept what she wants. When someone who has seen a show and can explain the characters finely, you get to know how immaculately the writer has edged them and Taj Mahal 1989 wins with flying colours in this department. (God I am still talking about the characters!)
Special credits to the dynamic between Danish and Sheeba who play Sudhakar and Mumtaz. The story tells us that the two met in a brothel, love made them fight society and they lived together. Their dynamic had my heart and I still can’t come out from the climax that the makers chose to give these two.
Acting performances by all seniors including Neeraj, Geetanjali, Danish and Sheeba is without any second thought amazing and moving. Young slot including Anshul, Anud and Paras play their parts with conviction and make you root for them. But Anud as Angad happens to be my favourite. The actor has gotten into the skin of his part and not for once lets you feel that this is a character he is playing. The body language, dialect, action and reaction, everything just right.
The direction of the show is a breeze of nostalgia. If you are not a fan of love like Angad, you have an outburst of nostalgia that the makers have thoughtfully introduced. The Rasna ads, phones before there were keypads, the vintage cars and many more things. Also special points to the production design for subtly making the surrounding of each character in a way that it resonates them. (again characters!)
Coming to the title Taj Mahal 1989, as already explained why 1989, what remains is the Taj Mahal. Said to be the monument of ultimate love, everyone in this show’s universe is trying to build one. Be it Akhtar trying to save his marriage, Dharam his career, Angad his life or Sudhakar who literally builds a house for Mumtaz and names it, Mumtaz Mahal. There are enough references to connect you to the iconic monument and you will surely do.
What Doesn’t Work:
OTT platforms no more cater to only a niche audience. Taj Mahal 1989 is a series that requires it’s the viewer to read between the lines. And honestly, not everyone is thoughtfully equipped to do that. For example, the references to Faiz and his poems which tell you about the characters might just be hits and misses for someone who is not able to invest.
Also, the parallel stories that we have been witnessing collide too late which doesn’t give room to connect all of it together.
The Last Words:
Watch Taj Mahal 1989 if you believe in love, if you don’t, there is something in there for you too. Watch it for the stellar cast, the thoughtful writing and the heart that is in the right place. Concluding this I would want to quote Akhtar who says, “Ishq Jismani Nahi Roohani Baat Hai.”
Taj Mahal 1989 Star Rating: 4 Stars!