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HomeFeaturesReel TakePartly mediocre, partly predictable—Modern love Hyderabad is pleasing, but fails the city

Partly mediocre, partly predictable—Modern love Hyderabad is pleasing, but fails the city

For the most part, Hyderabad is just a silent performer in this six-part anthology of the much loved Modern Love franchise.

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Biryani, haleem, the Charminar, old Telugu comedies directed by Jandhyala, and regressive Telugu daily soaps — Modern Love Hyderabad is peppered with common perceptions of the city. But beyond that, the six-part anthology, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, falls short in blending the city into its narratives, for the most part. Hyderabad is just a silent performer giving a few passing shots in the background.

Much like how showrunner Nagesh Kukunoor described ‘love’ (he said that “there’s no definition for love”), the web series, too, flirts with distinct aspects of romance. Modern Love Hyderabad is like that relationship you have fond memories of but its culmination left you with an odd sense of relief than grief.

After its Mumbai edition, the series is a second desi adaptation from The New York Times bestselling column and consequent series, Modern Love. The six shorts in the Telugu anthology — My Unlikely Pandemic Dream Partner, Fuzzy, Purple and Full of Thorns, Why Did She Leave Me There? What Clown Wrote This Script, About That Rustle in The Bushes, and Finding Your Penguin — explore the conflicts of interpersonal relationships, communal harmony, loss of a loved one and finding love after initial bumps on the way.

Barring two episodes, the web series portrays only heteronormative romance. The two shorts that are an exception to this fact deal with love from the lens of a parent and child. The absence of queer relationships in this rendition of Modern Love does little to nothing to make the show more relatable. I wonder if the anthology as a whole will withstand the test of time.


Also Read: Modern Love: Mumbai is all about ‘ishq, mohabbat, pyaar’. But it’s not that ‘modern’


Personal growth, self-less — shades of love

Interestingly, the two shorts that stood out for me have been directed by Kukunoor, with one of them showing Hyderabad as a central character. The opening story, My Unlikely Pandemic Dream Partner, is a fairly predictable one—The relationship between mother (Mehrunissa, played by Revathi) and daughter (Noori, played by Nithya Menen) gets fractured after Noori leaves home to marry a man of her choosing. Given the glaring gap between their generation and beliefs, Mehrunissa does not give in to her daughter’s choice and opts to abandon her instead. Six years later, they are forced to mend their relationship and look inwards as they are stuck together during the Covid-induced lockdown of 2020.

The story is as typical and obvious as it gets. However, it is thoroughly engaging and pleasing because of the overwhelming presence of ‘Hyderabad’. Despite all her traditional and strict beliefs, Mehrunissa expresses her love through food. Khatti dal, Ambada chicken, Ande ke lauz, Bagara baingan, and so much more — their strained relationship heals through culinary senses and a historical landmark.

Another anthology that hits home is Why Did She Leave Me There, also directed by Kukunoor. The story is told from the lens of an orphan who rose to prominence. As a director, bringing forth the emotions and conflicts of a relationship has always remained his strength. And he does precisely the same here. Moreover, the presence of a superlative talent like Suhasini Maniratnam provides much-needed flight to the script. She plays a grandmother living in slums who is taking care of her two grandchildren after their mother’s demise. After another tragedy, she is forced to drop one of her grandchildren to an orphanage. The love with which she raised her grandchild inspired him to make something of his life.

These two stories, despite their predictability, stand out due to  outstanding performances by their leading actresses.

Finding Your Penguin, directed by Venkatesh Maha, is another heart-warming story of a young microbiologist looking for love. Using her profession as a yardstick, Indu (Komalee Prasad) goes on a journey to find her ‘animal’.

All in all, Modern Love Hyderabad is partly mediocre and predictable yet makes for a pleasing watch. Much like a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter evening to make you feel good. How is that for a bargain?

(Edited by Zoya Bhatti)

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Biryani, haleem, the Charminar, old Telugu comedies directed by Jandhyala, and regressive Telugu daily soaps — Modern Love Hyderabad is peppered with common perceptions of the city. But beyond that, the six-part anthology, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, falls short in blending the city into its narratives, for the most...Partly mediocre, partly predictable—Modern love Hyderabad is pleasing, but fails the city