In an anthology that celebrates the lives and loves of Mumbai city, here’s how they stand in order of preference.
Mumbai Dragon by Vishal Bhardwaj
When he’s not making a mess of Shakespeare or Kashmir and studies the Cantonese of Mumbai for a change, this filmmaker can whip up a satisfying seven-course meal. Sui (Yeo Yann Yann) is the average Chinese you’d encounter in Mumbai, only you don’t know how she clings to her culture, her cuisine and her son Ming (Meiyang Chang).
Using food, Sui’s only area of expertise, there’s love lavished, resentment registered and acceptance signalled, all through the many dabbas of Chinese fare that she chops, sautes and packs for Ming. If only he’d get rid of Megha (Warriqa Gabbi), the “vegetarian witch” who won’t eat even garlic. Why can’t he settle for a nice homely Chinese girl and give up chasing the pipedream of becoming a singer?
Letting her son free to soar with a friendly Cantonese-speaking sardar (Naseeruddin Shah) playing the middleman, the charm of a Chinese Buddhist temple and Sui’s unbending pride in her culture, is a story that can be transplanted in any community. The feelings are the same, the flavours are different.
Cutting Chai directed by Nupur Asthana
A Mumbai speciality is the subtle diversity that exists in families without making it stand out like a nose on the face. Whatever the problems between aspiring novelist Latika (Chitrangada Singh) and hotelier husband Daniel (Arshad Warsi), it takes a solo trip around CST station, a sea of people, some of who seem to amplify her key thoughts of how Daniel’s always late, she must look for a change and choices must be made, to work it all out. A trot into a book launch of the past and fantasising ‘what if’ options clear Latika’s head as Daniel the latecomer once again charms her off her feet. He may have wooed her with Mumbai’s cutting chai but there is something more that keeps them together.
It’s a lovely little peep into a couple’s life even as the hustle and bustle of the city honks all around.
Raat Rani directed by Shonali Bose
Why would an inter-faith couple from Kashmir come to Mumbai? For its inclusiveness, of course. For Lali (Fatima Sana Shaikh), wobbly on her bicycle and wobbly-weepy in life too when her husband dumps her one evening, the roof caves in like her marriage has. It’s many a Sunday and a bicycle ride between frailty, angst and suicidal thoughts until she does it – she flies across the flyover without a wobble. Feel the freshness of freedom. Mumbai symbolises freedom from “You’re not allowed to” – you’re not allowed to go out at night, you’re not allowed to fall in love, to fall in love with a lower caste, to go on a two-wheeler on the Sea Link. When Lali does it all, Mumbai is where she can be a free spirit.
Truly a very feminist look at Mumbai, caring and crazy.
Psst: If Lali had been a Rajasthani, her ghunghat would’ve gone flying to capture the freedom. But those liberties can’t be taken with a head scarf. Clearly some things you’re still not allowed to.
My Beautiful Wrinkles directed by Alankrita Shrivastav
Women who play cards, women who gossip, women who chuff up one another, women who love books, women who live alone. All these women are put together in Dilbar (Sareeka) and her wrinkles as her friendship with a young man helps her let go of something she’s been clinging to. While her wisdom helps him go where his heart directs him and Dilbar’s right there when her granddaughter comes home with a broken heart. Those wrinkles didn’t come overnight.
Watch it for Sareeka. Watch it for all the people who live here and love Mumbai.
Baai by Hansal Mehta
Can inclusivity ever be complete without a gay story? Or a communal angle? A riot at the door. A sister who can’t marry the Hindu she loves and must say ‘kabool’ to another because that’s what will please Baai (grandmom played by Tanuja), a father who thinks his son Manzu (Pratilk Gandhi) is a pervert. How can Manzu break his sexuality to Baai?
Mumbai doesn’t play an important part in this gay dilemma as it moves from Surat to Goa. But music does and so does food as, ‘The most important ingredient in any dish is love’, is underscored until your tummy’s full.
I Love Thane directed by Dhruv Sehgal
Saiba (Masaba Gupta), a landscape artiste and 34 years old, is still casual dating to find the right partner. A chance assignment in faraway Thane, a suburb she grew up in but outgrew soon, brings Parth (Ritwik Bhowmik) into her life. He who has never stepped out of Thane. Will this friendship last longer than the project that threw them together?
The problem is that this chapter is word-heavy and far too verbose with Saiba constantly articulating everything that’s in her head including her friend’s divorce.
The lives, the loves, the food and the flavours of Mumbai do a neat little crisscross of characters at the end.
Watch the trailer of Modern Love: Mumbai: