BOTTOM LINE: Bigger, Better and Messier
|Platform: Amazon||Genre: Drama|
Skin and Swear: Contains multiple references to words describing sexual activity, expletives and raw lovemaking sequences.
What Is the Story About?
Umang, Anjana, Siddhi and Damini are four independent women living life on their own terms in Mumbai, trying to find a sense of direction in their love lives and careers. While Umang, the fitness trainer helps her partner, actor Samara Kapoor heal after a psychologically vulnerable phase, Damini is giving a good shot at reviving her career with a pathbreaking book after a shock exit from the very company she had founded. Anjana’s insecurities about her child continue to affect her, but the desire to be in a relationship interferes with her professional growth now. Siddhi looks to have finally found her voice in the form of standup comedy. However, does she have any clarity about her love life?
Like their characters, the evolution of the actors with their performance is also evident through the show. Kirti Kulhari gives it as all a mid 30s mom, elevating her performance through the many vulnerabilities in the character. She doesn’t blow the dramatic portions out of proportion and takes the viewer into her world with little gestures, subtle responses and a composure (that her role may not necessarily have). Maanvi Gagroo is clearly in her element, so effective is her comic act that you wonder if she could give a shot at standup comedy soon.
There’s immense believability in the performance of Sayani Gupta in a role with many quirks, while the real surprise is how Bani and Lisa Ray slip into the skin of their roles and its rougher edges with immense confidence. There’s an inherent classiness in the portrayal of the male actors, Samir Kochhar and Milind Soman being the best of the lot, though the likes of Prateik Babbar and Neil Bhoopalam don’t get the parts they may have deserved.
Sequels of popular shows often make the mistake of merely upping the visual grandeur while not investing its energies in giving enough emotional depth to its universe. Four More Shots Please which had a fairly entertaining season one surprisingly delivers on both fronts in the second instalment. It’s mounted with lavishness, but the visual flair still doesn’t undermine the quirks and the seamless flow of the narrative. The characters become more well-rounded, the conversations more purposeful, the dramatic arcs superbly structured. Although it is desperately sensationalistic in its treatment, it’s irresistibly peppy and entertaining.
While Umang’s career and bisexuality were the aspects of focus in the first season, round two explores what she seeks from a relationship (precisely equality and a voice). This season also moves beyond Damini’s journo career – she’s less hot-headed this time, surer of her professional decisions, but fidelity doesn’t seem to be her strength across relationships. The book about the sensational murder of a judge (and later their family) offers a larger picture of her identity. Workplace relationships make Anjana’s life messier, though she has come to terms with parenting finally minus the guilt of pampering herself once in a while. Siddhi doesn’t exactly come of age though standup humour is an outlet she utilises to her advantage.
The extravagant wedding backdrop isn’t merely the money that the producer wants to show off – the grand canvas works as a superb contrast to the shallowness of the many relationships of its pivotal characters. It allows the director to magnify their conflicts –be it the pregnancy, the guilt of infidelity or the complications in the many romances. The drama is most effective and free-flowing with Anjana’s character – be it the way she attains a closure with a misogynist ex-boss or how blissfully unaware she’s about stepping into a relationship with a married man. The standup humour in Siddhi’s life is brilliantly used to take the story forward – the authenticity is striking (especially with the way she owns her mistake on the stage) and her equation with the standup partner is a superb statement to understand how privileged she is.
However, even before the final stretch, you become rather aware that the makers of Four More Shots Please will not settle for a happy ending (after all, the makers need an excuse for another season). The show works because its lead characters are quite true to themselves, there’s a dignity to them beyond the messiness. It doesn’t aim to be extremely deep either and the nonchalance is a relief. The drama is pulpy and director Nupur Asthana is successful in touching upon many relevant issues with strokes of humour and drama. Discussing self-publishing, the entire anti-national debate, standup comedy, bisexuality, infidelity, misogyny – Four More Shots Please is intentionally issue-heavy. However, it is also a smart, appealing and fulfilling upgrade.
Music and Other Departments?
There’s a lot of warmth and passion in the music score – the music beautifully extends the unexpressed/expressed emotions and feelings of the characters and adds value to the storytelling. Impressive visuals become more effective when the universe of the show is as compelling – the scale is like a guilty pleasure (you wouldn’t want to admit that) that works on a visceral level. The linear narrative is a welcome relief and the subplots don’t interfere with the essence of the story much. The dialogues feature a generous mix of English and Hindi – the literature and grammar Nazis are bound to be pleased.
Superb casting, balanced performances
The efficient use of the wedding backdrop
The pulpiness paves the way to exaggeration at times
Less effective in terms of shock effect (that the first season had)
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur