It’s just like tequila–memorable in the moment but forgettable the next day
Gitika Naik, Class of 2021
If you’ve been anywhere on the internet lately, chances are that you would’ve heard about Amazon Prime’s Indian original, Four More Shots Please. The show stars Kirti Kulhari, Sayani Gupta, Bani J and Maanvi Gagroo, and brands itself as the story of four unapologetically badass yet vulnerable women. Kirti Kulhari plays Anjana Menon, a lawyer and a single mother who is trying to get over her ex-husband while making sure she’s still the favourite woman in her daughter’s life and having enlightening conversations with her vagina (Ms Weewee). Sayani Gupta’s character, Damini Rizvi Roy, is an award-winning journalist and the founder of an investigative journalism news portal. She is ballsy when it comes to her stories but dense when it comes to attention from men. Bani J essays the role of Umang, a bisexual gym instructor from Ludhiana who is trying to fit into the big city while being involved in a love affair with a closeted Bollywood celebrity. Maanvi Gagroo stars as Siddhi Patel, a curvy girl battling body image issues and her marriage-obsessed mother. Here’s a lowdown on the good, the bad and the worst the show has to offer.
One thing that Four More Shots Please has going for it, is the female ensemble behind the camera- director, writers, and producer. The show is directed by Anu Menon, written by Devika Bhagat and Ishita Moitra. It is created by Rangita Pritish Nandy. The all-girl team manages to do a pretty good job of making sure that the characters have a high degree of authenticity.
Another thing that the series manages to get right is the portrayal of bisexuality through Umang’s character. She is the only one who is not from the posh bylanes of South Bombay. At first, I was sceptical about this character because it seemed like her entire character arc was limited to gender. But then the series delved deeper into her background as a small-town girl, her family dynamics and how she landed in Mumbai. The show not only portrays a same-sex relationship, something that is still not common in mainstream Indian media but also does so without making the mistake of being superficial. However, there is still scope for improvement, in that, the relationship could have been portrayed with more emotional depth.
This series does not play around when it comes to eye candy. While the gorgeous women nail their fashionable looks, the men too, are easy on the eyes. The very first scene has the gorgeous Milind Soman strutting in his boxers. The charming Neil Bhoopalam, of NH-10 fame, plays Anjana’s ex-husband. Prateik Babbar brings his all to his role as Jeh, the bartender of the ‘Truck Bar’ where the women spend most of their nights.
The series does try to tackle issues that the modern woman faces, including workplace sexism, defining feminism, seeking self-affirmation, and even matters such as ethical journalism find mention. But that’s all it seems to be, token commentary. Instead of delving deep into the complexities, everything seems to get glossed over in the glitz and glamour of the show. Most of these issues are explored through the lives of the characters. Damini gets trolled for being a “presstitute”, Anjana often feels guilty for being a “working mother”, Siddhi is battling body image issues and Umang deals with workplace sexism among other things. But the characters are not written well enough for us to get invested in their lives. The show fails to shed light on the way these women deal with their challenges and ends up focusing on cliches and trivialities– excessive drinking and getaways to Goa. While the intent behind this may have been to make the show light-hearted and add elements of humour, somewhere along the way the writers ended up losing the plot and sadly, most of these issues get lost in the fray of mediocre writing.
The show is set in South Bombay (SoBo), the poshest part of Mumbai. All the shots panning the city portray it as India’s answer to Manhattan. While this is a refreshing change from the usual struggle-filled and slum infested portrayal of the “City of Dreams”, as a Mumbaikar this is irksome, because the reality is very different. Everyone seems to live in spacious, beautiful houses. In reality, there is as much open space in Mumbai as there is clean air in Sonipat. Damini’s apartment has everything from a green awning to a doorman, which makes you wonder if she just swapped places with Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City.
Simply put, the show satisfies but doesn’t win you over. The acting is convincing but not great, the characters are relatable but not memorable, and the show hooks you but doesn’t reel you in. It is somewhere right in the middle. It is an upgraded version of Veerey di Wedding and the Indian reimagination of Sex and the City. If you are looking to unwind after a long day of assignments and organising college fests, or need something mindless to binge-watch over the weekend, this is a show for you!
The author is a Staff Writer for the Arts and Culture section of The Edict