Four More Shots Please review: Amazon’s ‘sex’ comedy hurts at first but gets better with time
Four More Shots Please
Cast - Kirti Kulhari, Manavi Gagroo, Sayani Gupta, Bani J
Rating - 3/5
Amazon Prime’s latest Indian original, Four More Shots Please, is a textbook case on why makers need to spend more time on pilot episodes. Not only do they set the story in motion but also establish the mood, the aesthetic, the theme and the priorities of the show. The pilot episode of Four More Shots Please does none of these; it is a shallow, screaming mess that doles out thick and unsubtle curses at patriarchy and pop lessons in feminism.
It was so bad that I swear on feminism that I would not have made it to the second episode if I had been watching this show on my own free will. But because I had to watch all 10 episodes for the purpose of this review, I can tell you that it does get a lot better. The show takes some time to establish itself and gets better from there. However, before that, you have to sit through the smart lawyer spouting dialogues like, “I can make a sexist joke after 2000 years of patriarchy.” She and her friend hate the condescending tone of men when they talk to women, but happily sort women as ‘virgin’, ‘ugly’ or ‘slutty savitri’ for simply being skinnier than them.
Four More Shots Please cast interview: Bani J, Kirti Kulhari and Sayani Gupta
There are a lot of issues with the first two episodes but once you get past all the MS PowerPoint inspired side-sweeping transitions, the unnecessary dance sequences in the club and the preachy feminism, it finds its momentum. The focus shifts to individual stories as the glossy, boozy escapades at the bar make way for more intimate moments.
Four More Shots Please is the story of four women in Mumbai who can afford to drown their life’s failures in expensive booze. There is the workaholic Damini (Sayani Gupta) whose life revolves around her job as a journalist. She has no time for men, not even to let them stay the night after an unsatisfying night of no-strings sex. There is the divorcee Anjana (Kirti Kulhari) who has forgotten what it feels like to have sex since her daughter was born, four years ago. While her ex has moved on, she is stuck in the past, unable to get over him and on to somebody else.
Then there is the bisexual Umang (Bani J) who is all about taking life one casual hook-up at a time, until she falls in love with a woman who isn’t ready to come out of the closet yet. Finally there is the virgin (Manavi Gagroo) who is being emotionally abused by her mother into being skinny and finding an eligible bachelor for marriage, which may or may not include foot fetishists. Their struggles with an unfair life, jealousy, need for validation and a search for love, forms the soul of the show, not the intoxicated Friday night revelry that the trailer had advertised.
Getting actors like Neil Bhoopalam and Kirti Kulhari on board was the wisest decision on the makers’ part. The two give the show a handful of its most raw, honest scenes as we see the exes compete with each other. Who will get over the other one first, who will score the hotter new squeeze and who will the child love more? The competitions are several and they play them well.
Kirti, often a misfit in the shiny, glamorous and shallow scenes of weekly visits to the bar, hits it out of the park in moments that require an earnest and sincere emotion. She is believable as the hassled wife who is sharing her house with a man-baby, relatable as she gets jealous of her ex’s new girlfriend and breaks your heart as the wailing mother who risks losing her child forever. Kirti is one of the better actors among the current stock and deserves respect.
Another one to impress with her performance, albeit with little less consistency, is Bani. While she still needs a lesson or two on keeping it more natural in scenes where she is not the focus, she did bring along a certain freshness in scenes that connect her to her roots. A simple phone call in Punjabi with her mother or a struggle to wear a saree for a prospective groom, brought a lot of authenticity to the show that was otherwise marred by Sayani’s animated pep talks in the newsroom.
While Manavi’s performance was just about acceptable, her character asked for a lot of empathy. A woman constantly made to feel ashamed about her body, finds validation among strangers. She strips for her webcam and men swoon over the same curves that her mother considers her biggest curse. Sure, her sexual escapades do lead her into trouble but the way it changes her story and relationships at the end, made it one of the most satisfying moments of the show.
Talking about satisfaction, or the lack thereof, the show is heavy the sex but not unnecessarily so. No one is getting naked at the drop of the hat and each hot and heavy scene is warranted by the plot. Sure, the women are still having sex without removing their bras and the bedsheets are still the biggest saviours of breasts, but these are baby steps in the right direction.
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