It may be Modern Love Mumbai for all but if Vishal Bhardwaj was in power, the anthology series would have been titled something else. The filmmaker joins fellow directors Hansal Mehta, Shonali Bose, Dhruv Sehgal, Alankrita Srivastava and Nupur Asthana to tell different tales of ‘modern’ love. In Bharadwaj’s story, titled Mumbai Dragon, the director narrates the story of a mother who does not like her son’s girlfriend.
Bharadwaj has cast Meiyang Chang to play the son, while Yo Yan Yan plays the mother. Vamika Gabbi plays the role of the girlfriend and Naseeruddin Shah plays an important supporting role. While fans will have to wait to see Bhardwaj’s ‘Modern Love’, we asked the director what is the definition of it.
The filmmaker explained, “I think the title just doesn’t work that much. I think Eternal Love could have been better. I mean, there’s only one thing that doesn’t get old, that’s Mohabbat, Baaki Toh.” Everything changes, it’s the only thing that doesn’t get old (There’s only one thing that doesn’t get old and that’s love. Other things change but love doesn’t, it never gets old.)”
Modern Love Mumbai is the filmmaker’s second large-scale project set in Mumbai. The first was Kaminey, which starred Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra. When News18.com asked him the reason for setting most of his stories outside the city, the director said that Mumbai has been ‘over-exploited’.
“There must be a reason to shoot a film in Bombay because Bombay is heavily exploited – the language of Bombay, the whole place of Bombay, Ganpati celebrations, gangster (concept), woh sab very much hai (language of Mumbai, places, The concept of celebrations, gangsters is already there.) Now that Modern Love was founded in Mumbai, I had to think of Bombay itself. This community is in Mumbai. Good hai mil gayi mujhe ye community otherwise Kolkata’s modern Love karna pada. waha pe bhi big community hai (good that I got community here otherwise I would have had to do Modern Love Kolkata because there is a huge community there),” he said, referring to the Chinese diaspora.
Not only is he trying a different lens for Mumbai with the story, but Bharadwaj is also trying a new medium – OTT. The director was all set to make his digital debut with Netflix’s Khufiya this year, but Modern Love Mumbai came before that. This is also his second short film format effort. He had earlier done a short film titled Blood Brothers with Mira Nair.
With the advent of OTT, he agrees that there are many options available to the viewers. But Bhardwaj also points out that there are pros and cons to the subject. While the pros are that people now have the freedom to move on from the film or series if they don’t like it and no one questions it, the cons are that there is pressure to engage the audience with the word.
“When I sit in a theater during a screening and if I leave the film midway, I’ll get a call within 10 minutes from the film crew saying, ‘Is the movie so bad you decided to leave? ‘ I have experienced it twice.So it is so good that you don’t like it toh aap nikal jao mein se (So it is good that you have the option to opt out of the movie/show if you don’t like it), “They said.
“There is another pressure to it. As a producer, you are expected to grab the attention of the audience in the initial two to three minutes. Another issue I have with the platform is that when you sit down to read the credits, the streaming platform immediately redirects you to another title even before you can read the credits. It’s a disgraceful way of platforming to the creators and the entity behind it. There shouldn’t be an option for you to physically go and see (there should be no option to see the credits). But it is again a commercial thing so everything in this format has its advantages and disadvantages.”
Still, he considered the advent of OTT as a great period for creators and talent. “When we were struggling, we had only two mediums – either cinema or Doordarshan. Then the advent of private channels opened up a little scope for work but today, there are so many options and today none are free.”
Modern Love Mumbai is streaming this Friday, May 13 on Amazon Prime Video.
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