In the latest adaptation of the Amazon Original “Modern Love,” after “Modern Love: Mumbai,” the streaming giant gives us stories of love from another big town in our country, Hyderabad. “Modern Love: Hyderabad,” just like “Modern Love: Mumbai,” showcases different spectrums of love we see daily.
Released on the streaming platform on July 8th, 2022, “Modern Love: Hyderabad,” is written by Bahaish Kapoor, Nagesh Kukunoor, and Shashi Sudigala and the 6 episodic miniseries has Nagesh Kukunoor directing the first three episodes of the show, while the last three are directed by Uday Gurrala, Devika Bahudhanam, Ranjeet Jha, and Venkatesh Maha.
The show begins with the tale of Noori and Mehrunissa, an estranged daughter and mother who find themselves in each other’s company as Noori is recovering from knee surgery. This is followed by the first major lockdown in the country, which forces them to stay with each other longer than they had hoped to. A tale of love, understanding, love for food, respecting choices, loss, and eventually forgiveness. Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor and written by Bahaish Kapoor and Nagesh himself, this episode stars Revathi as the headstrong mother Mehrunissa and Nithya Menen as equally stubborn daughter Noori who find some sort of commonality in each other after 6 years of not speaking to one another. The episode is titled “My unlikely pandemic dream partner.”
The second episode, titled “Fuzzy, Purple and Full of Thorns,” is a tale of a loving couple, Dr. Uday and Renu, who have been living together. One day, Renu discovers fuzzy purple stilettos hidden inside a cupboard and realizes these are not her shoes, and they belong to someone who Uday dated in the past. Obsessed with finding out why Uday kept this fuzzy pair of shoes and, in that attempt, tries to make Uday jealous by introducing something of her ex she never got rid of. An offbeat tale of a long-term relationship starring Ritu Verma and Aadhi, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor and written by Nagesh and Shashi Sudigala.
The third episode, titled “Why did she leave me there?”, is a heartwarming story of a successful businessman, Rohan, who reminisces memories of his grandmother Gangamma on why she left him at an orphanage. Known as Ramulu to his grandmother, he is adopted by a family within a few months, but the only thought that keeps bothering him is why his grandmother left him and went away. A heartening tale of love Ramulu/Rohan’s grandmother shared with his grandson. Starring Suhasini, Advitej Reddy as young Ramulu, and Naresh Agastya as the older Rohan, it is directed by Nagesh Kukunoor and written by Nagesh and Shashi Sudigala.
The fourth episode, titled “What clown wrote this script,” is a romantic story of Ashwin, a senior producer of a Telugu television series, who comes across Vinnie, a stand-up comedian, and is taken by her stand-up material. He decides to convert her material into a satirical television show, starring Vinnie, and makes her one of the writers of the show. Ashwin and Vinnie slowly grow fond of each other as they start writing this show, but things go south quickly. Starring Abijeet Duddala and Malavika Nair and directed by Uday Gurrala, and written by Bahaish Kapoor and Nagesh Kukunoor.
The fifth episode, titled “About the rustle in the bushes,” is Sneha’s story of finding the right partner for herself, but unknown to her, her father, Sreedhar, is following every date she goes on with a potential suitor. She eventually finds the right guy, but she also finds out about her father’s antics. Starring Ulka Gupta and V.K. Naresh; this episode is directed by Devika Bahudhanam and Ranjeet Jha
The final episode, titled “Finding your penguin…”, is about Indu, a microbiologist, seeking love/soulmate for herself and decides to change her dating methods and adapt to the pattern various animals in the wild kingdom carry out to attract a potential mate. Her experimentation with dates makes her understand plenty of things, while her friends and father are supportive of her decisions. This episode is directed by Venkatesh Maha and written by Bahaish Kapoor and Nagesh Kukunoor. It stars Komalee Prasad, Priyanka Kolluru, Pavani Karanam, and Bhavana Sagi.
This series is proof of what Nagesh Kukunoor always wanted to deliver in the commercial/multiplex space, a feat he was able to achieve only through the OTT space. Nagesh, along with his team of writers, Bahaish Kapoor, and Shashi Sudigala, delivers fresh stories and a rather beautiful take on love by discussing various forms of it throughout the six episodes. The stories are different and have a slice-of-life quality to them. The viewer won’t see themselves smiling at the end of every episode, but thankfully most of them seem to have a satisfactory ending. The love a mother shares with her daughter, the love couples share, the love a grandmother has for her young grandson, the love a loving father has for his daughter, and the joy of letting love find you; all of this is a treat to watch on screen, especially in the Telugu cinema space. A refreshing change indeed.
The screenplay of each episode has a clean, straightforward narrative, uninterrupted by baseless plot points. The writer did put in a lot of effort to make the narrative look effortless, which is a huge success. The screenplay of all episodes has a starting point, and an ending point, and all of them end on a bittersweet note, keeping in mind the running theme of the show, love.
Creative Producer Nagesh Kukunoor knows how to present a realistic representation of love on screen. Through “Modern Love: Hyderabad,” we get to see him take one step ahead towards delivering sensible cinema to the audience. “Modern Love: Hyderabad” isn’t extraordinary, but it is a small step towards making cinema extraordinary.
Of all the six episodes, the best episode is “My unlikely pandemic dream partner,” “What clown wrote this story,” and “Finding your penguin…”; the least favorite being “About the rustles in the bush,” which had a problematic narrative. “What clown wrote this story?” is probably a story that can be scaled to be made into a romantic drama film.
The cinematography and direction of “Modern Love: Hyderabad” stand out. It is simple and focused more on the storytelling aspect, which is very typical to see in any Nagesh Kukunoor cinema. The show relied heavily on the story and screenplay. Editing doesn’t count because each episode is a short film. A simplistic take on different facets of love is maybe where the show took a hit. “What clown wrote this story?” carried a layer of complexity to it, which made the episode quite enjoyable.
The music by M.M. Kreem is soothing. From the title track to all the soundtracks in the show, they are mellow, melancholic, loving, and comforting.
Out of all the elements, the one department in which the makers of the show nailed is the casting. All the actors performed with ease and finesse. The best performances amongst all are by Revathi as Mehrunissa in the first episode; Abijeet Duddala as Ashwin in the fourth episode, and Komalee Prasad as Indu in the sixth episode. All of them come across as loving, charming, and knowing what they want from the concerned people around them, and they are aware of themselves, too, never being apologetic for who they are. All the characters are well written, except a few of them from episode five. Episode five is the only one out of the six that stuck out like a sore thumb.
“Modern Love: Hyderabad,” on the whole, is a welcome form of filmmaking and storytelling, though it seemed like something was missing from the giant puzzle. At its core, this show has got the intent right.
“Modern Love: Hyderabad” is streaming on Amazon Prime with subtitles.