India’s first interesting take on urban India’s crumbling marriages is probably a true story of most upper-class households these days. In this eight-part series written by journalist Manu Sharma, the former editor of Open magazine known for his sardonic humour, Shruti and Arya (Surveen Chawla and R. Madhavan) play the estranged couple who want to break up.
But it’s not so simple! They are mostly puzzled about about how to uncouple, given the fact that they are looking for a dignified way to end the marriage and also not hurt or traumatise their school-going daughter, who is apparently too young to cope with such a thing.
While most Indian dramas that have made a mark on Netflix are all about crime or mostly about crime, this show attempts to take us into hitherto untouched territory.
After all, as one of the characters asks in the series, why would anybody be interested in the story of a separating couple? Who would want to play peeping tom and take vicarious pleasure out of knowing what happened that made a perfectly perfect couple with a perfectly perfect lifestyle fall out of love with each other and what made them opt to uncouple.
Sadistic pleasures, my dear, that probably we all have. We, and not just Indians as a race, others too, want to know! And that’s why a series like this actually works and interests us.
On social media and elsewhere, this show has come under a lot of criticism about projecting certain communities in a bad light and also labelled pretentious. To that, I would say: why can’t we be a little tolerant of different kinds of shows.
So what if Arya Iyer is shown as a narcissist, a jerk who doesn’t want to ‘fix’ himself to save his ideal marriage. So what if his wife is fed up with waiting for him to straighten himself out and instead goes on full throttle into decoupling mode. So what if artists and gays and therapists are shown in a not so savoury light?
Are we supposed to like only what fits our definition of right?
If that were so, we would be the most intolerant people around. So much for speaking about freedom of expression and tolerance when it comes to other things.
Yes, people like Arya exist. So do people like Shruti or the gays that are shown to be pretentious and the therapist who probably takes joy in people’s sufferings. Yes, people like that can and do exist so this show can be said to be a slice of the reality that may or not fit your perception of what people should be like. In fact, it is realistic in the sense that people with foibles, phobias, pretentiousness, sadism…all exist and this is the real world.
Having said that, this show wouldn’t have been half as fun if it wasn’t for the almost unimaginable dose of humour thrown in. There are so many light moments where the writer makes fun of every one of his characters and yet tells us that these people exist. Welcome to this world too, as your world with its carefully careless men and politically correct people. We accept that world. Why can’t you accept this?
Shruti and Arya have a ten-year-old marriage that first started showing signs of trouble, as are wont in most marriages after the honeymoon period is over and one has to pay bills, deal with career issues and the sonorous reality of running a household and kids and in between trying to keep that sexual and romantic spark alive. Not possible, most would say.
And that is when marriages start sliding down, deep under where it gets violent, ugly, sad, depressed, acidic and toxic in every sense.
Time to step out, they think, So the uncoupling begins.
Decoupled tells us the story in the words of the man, the very fine actor Madhavan and though it came as a pleasant surprise, the beautiful Surveen Chawla, who has previously done only roles with fluff and overt sex appeal, plays this role with a quiet dignity that perhaps only she could have done. Claps!
I found it incredibly funny, more so because the lead actor is shown to be absolutely non-hypocritical and calls a spade a spade. Truth and honesty, even if they are on celluloid, can be so refreshing.
One of the fun parts is also where Indian author Chetan Bhagat who plays himself, is pitched as Arya’s main rival, since the latter is also an author, who apparently writes trash that sells, something to what Bhagat is accused of, by the literary gentry in this country.
But can one ignore the fact that Bhagat’s books sell? A lot? Isn’t that what the hallmark of a writer supposed to be all about? To get his books to reach many and share his thoughts with his readers instead of an ultra intellectual who may be technically superior in the language and yet nobody wants to buy their books? Think.
The cat and mouse game with the authors Arya and Bhagat are very entertaining, as are the married couples’ escapades with other partners and their ridiculous ways to decouple. Also, don’t miss the scenes with their old and trusted family driver; there is a sense of déjà vu here because most of us have played these driver-saab-memsaab scenes in real life too.
Fun, mad caper.
Sometimes marriages breaking up are inevitable and then the choice, to celebrate the friendship that lasts or mourn the romantic relationship that died.
I loved it