New series Made in Heaven is a mirror to Delhi society, say creators Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti
Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti and Alankrita Srivastava script an engrossing tale of big fat weddings, now screening on Amazon Prime
After delivering a hit last month with Gully Boy, the talented duo of Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti are back with Made in Heaven, a web series. On board the nine-episode series that was launched on March 8 is also Lipstick Under my Burkha director Alankrita Shrivastava. Indulge caught up with Zoya, Reema and Nitya Mehra, who also shares the director’s seat, for a quick chat on the series, whose stellar cast includes Arjun Mathur, Sobhita Dhulipala, Jim Sarbh, Kalki Koechlin, Shashank Arora and Shivani Raghuvanshi.
It’s a production that has four women on board, and the series was launched on International Women’s Day. Was there any agenda, we asked? “It’s not an all-women production. We have Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani as our producers, and also, there is Prashant Nair, who has directed two episodes,” informs Nitya adding, “No, it just happened. But it really works for the kind of show it is. However, there are a lot of themes that deal with women empowerment, and patriarchy. It deals with independent women and feminist men too.”
What did it take for all four women to come on board to direct Made in Heaven along with Prashant? The Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara director says, “It’s like getting any crew member on board. You hire them because they are good in the job. They have the sensibility for that particular narrative and that particular job.” Nitya adds, “This original series really lends itself to a collaboration, because you are doing eight to nine hours of content. It becomes difficult for a director or a writer to see through the whole thing. Plus, everyone is committed to their own project. So it was nice for everyone to come together.”
This is the first web series for the team, and we couldn’t help but ask about the advantages of this medium, for directors who have made full-length feature films. Akhtar, who believes there is a lot of liberty in terms of airtime replies, “We all watch web series, and they are a part of who we are, and a part of the kind of stories we like. Different ideas lend themselves to different formats. You know you will get a certain idea, and it will make for a great short film or mini-series or other formats - this makes a great series. It changes in every episode. The backdrop changes, the wedding changes, there are new couples, new families, new conflicts, and new prejudices to play with. It lends itself episodically. There are 26 kinds of weddings in the country, and you cannot pack yourself in one movie.”
Talking more about the inclusive character of the series, Kagti says, “I don’t think it is set in a particular class. It’s about two wedding planners who are highly ambitious. It’s really a mirror to Delhi society. There are characters from affluent backgrounds, because it’s about a big fat Indian wedding. There are also characters that come from other economical backgrounds. Once you see the show, you will see that it covers the entire strata of society.”
Spoiler alert: When we talk about big fat Indian weddings, the image of the Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma-starrer Band Baaja Baaraat comes to mind. Does Made in Heaven have any similarity, we enquire. With a straight face, the Dil Dhadakne Do director replies, “Band Baaja Baaraat was at the end was a love story. This is not.” She also informs us that two episodes of Made in Heaven were shot before Gully Boy.
Junior Akhtar, who has worked with Ranveer before, also spoke of her association with the actor and conceptualising Gully Boy. “We have known each other for years. We discovered, while working on Dil Dhadakne Do, that we liked working together. And luckily for me, he liked the script of Gully Boy, and luckily, I wrote the script for him - so that we could both collaborate together. I look forward to working with him again,” signs off Akhtar.