Modern Love Mumbai: Hansal Mehta says kiss between Pratik Gandhi and Ranveer Brar was deliberately awkward
The cast and director of Modern Love Mumbai's Baai--Hansal Mehta, Tanuja, Pratik Gandhi, and Ranveer Brar--talk about the episode and the love it has received.
Modern Love: Mumbai, Amazon Prime Video’s Hindi adaptation of the popular anthology series has been received well by both critics and audiences. The original series was based on New York Times’ popular Modern Love column. The Mumbai series adapted six stories from the column and set them in the City of Dreams. Many critics have picked Hansal Mehta’s Baai as one of the best offerings in Modern Love: Mumbai. The cast of the story--as well as the filmmaker--had a chat with Hindustan Times to talk about the film and its success. Also read: Modern Love Mumbai review: Dhruv Sehgal, Hansal Mehta's beautiful stories are worth going through anything
Baai focusses on the love story of Manzar (Pratik Gandhi) and Rajveer (Ranveer Brar) and how Manzar has hid his sexuality from his Baai (his grandmother, played by Tanuja). The episode/short film has been applauded for its sensitive portrayal of the LGBTQ community and gay romance. Talking about it Pratik says, “It is a very well-written character. So, I had just to be present there with all my sensitivity and sensibility and go with the flow. It was a conscious decision that we did not want to portray this character in a particular way or fashion. That doesn’t work. I can talk about how Gujarati characters are also presented, just as an example. They talk a certain way. In every frame, there is a fafda or dhokla on a plate. That is not how it works. Similarly, here also, we never wanted to put it in a certain box.”
A scene in the episode that has both amused and puzzled viewers is the kiss shared by the characters of Pratik and Ranveer. Their first kiss is equal parts passion and equal parts old-school awkwardness, considering the actors' lips did not appear to have touched at all. Director Hansal Mehta says the awkwardness was always intended in the scene. He elaborates, “The intention was not to titilate. And one must understand, the character of Manzu comes from years of repression. He is not going to suddenly get up and start kissing like Dean Martin. It was an attempt to show that repression. Some people have messaged me asking why are they so awkward. I said ‘I’m glad you see it is awkward’. When you meet somebody for the first time, you feel passionate but you won’t have that perfect kiss. It is a progression. That’s what we tried to show. I don’t know why people need it to be perfect.”
Popular chef Ranveer Brar made his acting debut with the show. His character, like real life, is a chef. Ranveer quips, “Normally, we talk about method acting. My joke is that I have been method acting for 25 years, preparing to play this role. It just came naturally. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And yes, I would want to take that forward, surely.” In fact, bringing food to the screen in the story meant life coming a full circle for director Hansal Mehta as well. He began his career directing Sanjeev Kapoor’s famous food show Khana Khazana in the early 90s. Hansal says, “I realised how much I was missing doing a food show. When Ranveer was cooking on set, there were times when I wanted to have a camera on top, and then I would remind myself, ‘This is not a food show. This is a love story we are telling’.”
A dialogue from the episode has gone viral since the show released earlier this month. In a sequence, Tanuja’s character is shown to turn away rioters from her doorstep much to the puzzlement of her grandkids. She later reveals she paid them off and says, ‘Jo log nafrati hote hain, who aksar bikau hote hain (People who spread hate can often be bought).’ Talking about the line, Tanuja says, “People keep asking me how did you say that dialogue, the one that has gone viral. And I said that convincingly because it is my personal experience. How could I say it with any conviction otherwise. It made sense to me.”
Hansal adds that the line was not intended to be political but just a reflection of what he feels is the truth. He says, “It’s never planned, these things. People say that you have included your politics and world view in the script. That’s nothing. When you are writing, your life experiences, your world view, everything comes very subconsciously. I mean this dialogue was in English. Then it was translated in the Hindi draft. The dialogue writers then refined it. And it was always meant to be delivered very casually. The truth about the world does not have to be proclaimed from the ramparts of the Red Fort. It comes from the heart.” Also read: Wamiqa Gabbi of Modern Love Mumbai, Mai calls acting journey ‘magical’: ‘My characters helped me sort personal life'
The cast says they have been inundated with positive feedback from people about the episode and their performances. Tanuja says that normally her children--actors Kajol and Tanisha--are very critical of what she does, but even they liked it. “My children are very critical. When they see something that is not appropriate where I’m concerned, they’ll tell me: ‘Mom, no!’ I usually say, ‘Ok, thank you very much’. But yeah, they enjoyed the film,” she says.