Grand Indian weddings are always something every other nationality around the world wants to know about. The colors, songs, clothes, and grandeur are very much a part of it, and the family and friends that come together make the memory worth remembering. But how many are aware of the dark truths and the dramas about families who are planning to be in each other’s lives for eternity? There are certain films in the Hindi cinema space that have explored this area of grand celebrations. Monsoon Wedding, Veere Di Wedding, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Tanu Weds Manu, and the very recent Rocky Aur Rani ki Prem Kahani. All these films and many others were crucial in showcasing that weddings reveal what families are inherently about and how people are either willing or unwilling to make lifetime compromises.
Creators Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti bring together an assortment of directors and writers who tell the stories of deeply flawed people and bring them to the forefront to decide who the viewers should support after all. The show begins with Tara Khanna and Karan Mehra, who run a wedding management company called “Made in Heaven” that caters to various kinds of clients from in and around Delhi. The two of them have been partners for a while, and they have scored many high-profile weddings in their favor so far, but still, the business is taking time to pick up. The viewers are introduced to Tara’s husband, Adil Khanna, who is the heir to his father’s Khanna Infrastructure Company. He is a rich businessman who has invested in Tara’s company to give it a kickstart.
Tara and Karan go on to handle several weddings, and funnily enough, each wedding ends up in a peculiar conflict that forces them to get involved in it even if they don’t want to. There is a spectrum of topics surrounding families that are discussed in depth and subtly so that they are easily relatable and accessible to the viewers. A rich family wondering if their son is marrying a gold digger, a pre-wedding celebration of a young couple going haywire, an elderly couple wanting to get married in the hope of seeking companionship, or the subtle art of asking for dowry while the groom’s family projected themselves to be a simple and non-demanding one. This and more have been discussed with nuances that have hardly ever been explored by Hindi filmmakers. Karan and Tara are inevitably dragged into these difficult situations where they have to offer solutions.
Amidst all the weddings, Tara is struggling to fit into the high-profile family she’s married into as she comes from a middle-class family. She is forever conflicted between embracing the new life and forgetting the life that she led before her wedding or being proud of her past and upbringing. Through several flashbacks, the viewers come to know the values Tara was raised in and how important money and status are to her as she decides to move forward in her life. We get to see how Tara got involved with an already engaged Adil, causing a scandal that changed the course of both their lives. A leaked tape of their private moments pushes them to court one another and fall in love, subsequently leading to their marriage, which was considered controversial because of their two different upbringings.
Tara’s divorced friend Faiza finds solace in Adil and Tara initially as she runs away from her abusive husband and a strict father who is unable to understand his daughter’s plight. Faiza is also yet another rich woman who happens to be doing nothing but has a lot of money at her disposal to live off which comes with a price. Her father lives by ultra-conservative values despite their education and their wealth. It sheds light on how parents such as hers never understand the pain of abuse. Her vulnerable situation leads her into Adil’s arms, and she ends up having an affair with him, leading to a falling out between Tara and her, who had been best friends for a long time. Tara caught Adil and Faiza, rekindling their affair after he promised he would not meet her, and walked out on him, stating Faiza suits him better than Tara ever did. Tara also reveals a disturbing truth about how her relationship with Adil began. She confesses to having leaked the tape of their private moments because she knew it could lead to Adil turning his attention towards her, and it worked. Tara admits to having married Adil only for the status it provides for her and the family. The shallow-mindedness of Tara was disturbing, for she was washing her hands off with the very marriage which she thought was a sham from the beginning.
Karan, the other partner at “Made in Heaven,” is gay, and this side of him is something his friends and brother are aware of, but his parents aren’t. Karan has lived all his life being boisterous, and liking men does not change anything about his nature and the love he has for his friends. As a perfect business partner to Tara, he begins to get involved in the lives of the people he is arranging weddings for, even though he is not keen on doing so.
Through flashback sequences, viewers are made aware of his mother’s abusive nature towards him after she found out about his sexuality. This changed his perspective on his mother for good. When Karan is arrested for being homosexual, which was a criminal act in India, a lot of things come to his understanding, and he figures he lived a privilege because he was unaffected by being gay because his friends always accepted him. To his surprise, his father accepted him as well, which was his biggest fear all this time, thanks to his mother’s emotional blackmail and fear-mongering tactics. Karan had a vice of borrowing money to sustain his business, resulting in him being in huge debt. This forces him and Tara to make Karan’s money lender, Jauhari, a partner with the “Made in Heaven” company. This was the only way for Karan to save himself from getting arrested, or he would have lost the company he built from scratch.
Karan starts his fight for people in his community in the hope that his voice will encourage others to come out to their families and society and live a life of dignity. His courage resonates with that of his old neighbor, Ramesh Gupta, because of whom Karan was arrested. Ramesh Gupta is proud of Karan for being able to live a life on his terms, which implies that Ramesh is most likely a closeted gay man, just like many men in the country right now, who end up marrying a woman of their parents’ choice just out of pressure and to avoid ostracization. Karan’s love life also goes through its ups and downs, with nothing steady by the end of season one. He meets his high school boyfriend, and they sleep with each other, realizing they are still in love, but their lives are at a juncture where they cannot commit.
Made in Heaven Season 1 was good at exploring the lives of the people who work at the company, who are not as well off as Karan or Tara and are struggling to meet their daily needs. Shibani Bagchi, a single mother, is struggling to help her daughter get through the finest schools in Delhi, and Jaspreet Kaur, aka Jazz, is partakes in the lifestyle of the rich and is completely unaware of the drama that goes behind making a wedding look perfect. She struggles with a brother who is a drug addict, and her platonic relationship with Kabir is the highlight of the show. Kabir happens to be shooting all the weddings and behind-the-scenes happenings for his documentary, and the man behind the show has a ball covering the madness.
The first season of Made in Heaven ends with Tara walking out on Adil because she does not see the point of staying in a marriage where the couple only disrespect each other on the moral level. Though Adil tries his best to stop her, her involvement in the CCTV footage leak of theirs makes sure things have come to an end for good. Tara should have understood that if a man cheated on his ex-fiancée to be with her, he would have repeated the behavior while being with her, leading to a never-ending cycle. She leaves the house with her gold only to see a fringe right-wing party ransack their office because of Karan’s opinion on decriminalizing same-sex relationships. With no clue on how to take the company forward, the first season concludes with the only hope that the duo will somehow reinstate Made in Heaven. Only season two will help the audience understand how the dynamics between the leads have changed for the better.