Made in Heaven has been praised for its depiction of the rich and powerful through storylines that address social justice by going beyond the obvious to reveal the realities of Delhi’s elite. There was considerable excitement about what Tara (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan (Arjun Mathur) were planning for this new season, which starts six months after we last saw them. It primarily explores how they attempt to get out of financial troubles and re-establish themselves and the company. A wedding or two is also handled every episode, setting up the themes and problems that the planners come across while going about their jobs.
If there was a diversity checklist, Made in Heaven’s second season would check all the boxes. The first episode begins with Tara negotiating the terms of her divorce with Adil, Karan still figuring out his dating life while his complex relationship with his homophobic mother worsens because of her cancer diagnosis, and Jazz and Kabir trying to focus on their relationship which they cannot agree on a definition of.
If there was a diversity checklist, Made in Heaven’s second season would check all the boxes.
A transgender woman, Meher, also joins the team as the Production Head. Trinetra Haldar’s casting is both a welcome act of inclusivity and an acknowledgment of the fact that India’s trans community is extremely diverse, and that this singular role cannot represent everyone. But one hopes that by demonstrating to viewers the reality of being trans through the show, it will help normalise these experiences in real life as well.
Haldar is actually an influencer and a practising medical doctor who has gone through SRS herself. Meher’s arc is geared towards communicating how trans women should be treated as human beings, with equal opportunities, love, respect, and achievement. This is important as societal acceptance can significantly improve a nation where the majority of Queer Trans folks are abandoned by their biological families.
Meher’s arc is geared towards communicating how trans women should be treated as human beings…
Bulbul–played by Mona Singh–maintains a stringent control over the purse strings, ranging from limiting colleagues to one tissue during an emotional scene, replacing expensive champagne with cheaper alternatives, and replacing natural flowers with plastic substitutes. But what begins with a comical flourish takes on a more serious tenor as her life at home slowly brings her past into focus. We quickly find that she is a survivor of domestic abuse, and Jauhari, her much older husband, is obviously our first suspect. Jauhari compliments her extensively, but Bulbul only smiles a little and keeps her eyes closed.
Vijay Raaz’s Jauhari was a dangerous moneylender in the first season, but here he emerges as a surprise, displaying how the character is both deeply rooted and shockingly modern. He is obviously Indian but also naturally progressive, consuming green tea and referring to it as chai. Dhruv, their older son, who openly disobeys her, is compelled to carry out Jauhari’s instructions. Later, Dhruv discovers that Bulbul’s scars are from her time with his dead father, her ex-husband, revealing Jauhari’s role as a supportive neighbour who helped her after she killed him in self-defence. Bulbul and Jauhari’s romance reveals an inherent sincerity, with Jauhari defending her publicly, constantly complimenting her financial acumen and calling her ‘sundar’ on a video call, going beyond just being a supportive husband to an appreciative partner.
Vijay Raaz’s Jauhari was a dangerous moneylender in the first season, but here he emerges as a surprise, displaying how the character is both deeply rooted and shockingly modern
The wedding(s) each episode are usually beset by issues like obsessions with skin colour, caste, wealth, sexual orientation and social standing but Tara and her team rarely leave their clients without a pep talk or two, even as their own lives are allowed to be greyer and more complex. However, there are also moments of genuine, inspirational love that emerge from within this format, which outweigh the events throughout the series. Neelam Kothari and Samir Soni, a real-life couple, play lovers who are married to separate people when their children unexpectedly decide to get married. Their final reconciliation is both endearing and a testament to not letting toxic unions like that of their children take place.
For every such depiction, however, there are others that push the needle back even as the show itself condemns what it is depicting. A supermodel actor is trapped in a physically abusive relationship with her fiance. She limits her professional opportunities to appeal to his ego, and believes she must prove she’s worthy of his love by helping him become a better person while changing herself. The two come to a fairly depressing conclusion in the episode even though the finale shows a reference that she eventually does take a stand for herself and leave him. The writing highlights such abuse experienced by partners, particularly when serial abusers manipulate victims and blame them for their anger and resultant domestic abuse.
There are moments of genuine, inspirational love that emerge from within this format, which outweigh the events throughout the series.
There is also the Buddhist wedding, both lauded in the mainstream media as one of this season’s standout achievements and criticised for not providing due credit to the real individuals whose life and struggles it references. It remains undeniable, however, that this representation also validates the experiences of those for everyone who has struggled with discrimination. Radhika Apte’s Dalit author Pallavi Menke fearlessly questions casteist undertones of her to-be in-laws’ hypocritical insistence on Hindu feras over a Buddhist ceremony instead of just a court marriage. The season’s portrayal of the Buddhist wedding at the end is sensitive and respectful to both its history and the politics it has been a part of in helping Dalits reject casteist traditions.
Finally, while homosexuality is no longer illegal in India, Karan’s mother has still not accepted him. She twists the knife further and almost blames her son for being responsible for her terminal cancer. This is where the season goes beyond critique into a high-handed preachy space. Made In Heaven had originally started off by blending drama, emotions, and glamorous Delhi weddings to examine difficult subjects in our society.
The season’s portrayal of the Buddhist wedding at the end is sensitive and respectful to both its history and the politics it has been a part of in helping Dalits reject casteist traditions.
Aside from dealing with cultural limitations, the characters in the show are also constantly seen struggling with finances while they work in a field where appearances are everything. The extravagant lifestyles and dissatisfaction of the individuals bring to light the emptiness we all possess but are afraid to acknowledge. The second season takes this further to explore infidelity, masculine exaggeration, family pressure, queerphobia, and colourism.
The attempt to force audiences to face these unfavourable truths and render such discrimination unacceptable eventually falls short as instead of taking the audience through the complexities of these issues the show decides to speak down to them. Kabir’s voice at the end of each episode ultimately becomes one of hypocrisy and judgement as he himself is shown to be far from perfect, being as privileged and prone to discrimination as those he criticizes each episode.
…the season goes beyond critique into a high-handed preachy space.