Director: Prithvi Vanam
Starring: Caitanya Rao, Ananya, Mahendar, Divia, Veerabadram, Sri Kumari, Narendra Vanam, Anita Vanam
Just as the concept of arranged marriages was fading from the screen, Pel Choopulu (2016) and Who sows (2018) brought it back in full force and made the whole idea of parents choosing partners for their children to look cool. They are precious stones in their own way, of course, and make the respective couples stick to each other through thick and thin. These romantic movies dig deeper than the skin and offer quick solutions that look colorful. But they are not fighting the demon of endogamy on which the system of Indian marriages operates and thrives.
30 Wed. 21, the new original of Chai Bisket, wants to recreate some of this magic, but puts his bar too low. The series has become a blockbuster on YouTube and it is easy to understand where love and hate come from. According to the title, a 30-year-old man named Prudhvi (Caitanya) marries a newly elected, 21-year-old Megana (Ananya). He is unsure of their relationship, while she knows perfectly well that he is engaged to a reliable person.
Megan is actually twenty years old at the time of her wedding. She celebrates her 21stst birthday with Prudhvi in an episode that arrives much later. Age gaps have always been common in our country and are usually worn as a badge on the chest. It is still a matter of pride in many parts of the subcontinent. Fortunately, we have reduced it to some extent. While some people point to the invisible star of tradition to justify patriarchy, many blindly follow the rules without considering the pros and cons.
Prudhvi does not like the fact that his legally married wife is almost a decade younger than him. He thinks she is too young. But he doesn’t sit down with his parents to talk about it. Reefing on the issue of age without acknowledging the elephant in the room – casteism and male privilege – does not help the characters or the show. This comment is not aimed at the actors themselves. It’s more of a footnote I make to writers because their eyes are too shallow.
Prudhvi is a God-fearing engineer who wakes up at seven in the morning every day to pray. And no such sign appears in support of Megan’s religious union. And before you know that the masses have turned, the wife and husband carefully fall into their respective roles. When he makes food as part of an agreement they make, the camera captures his movements in a slow motion. It’s like making a special dish for her. And when it was her turn to cook, director Prithvi Vanam didn’t even take the camera into the kitchen.
When a work of art uses the eye of stereotypes and superstitions, the burden of addressing them falls directly on the director. Since there are no supporting characters who offer largely different points, Prudhvi’s word becomes a point. He is not a bad person; he’s just the average Joe. Mediocrity can sometimes be good, but is used as an excuse for a lack of splendor and opulence in 30 Wed. 21.
The show feels eerie like another YouTube hit The DevLOVEper software. They both build island worlds – limited characters, limited locations and unlimited product positions that make no sense for storylines. Some of them are necessary evils as they import mule, but they literally revolve around out-of-context events. Such interjections can become a problem in the long run.
As for matters of the heart, Prudhvi has the impression that love blooms between two like-minded people with one click. He is unaware of the hard work one has to put into a relationship to make it click. And when he is finally forced to take a position, he begins to ask his friends about the importance of compatibility. This is probably the boldest part of the story. But you will have to spend more than two and a half hours to cross this bridge.
On the other hand, Megana speaks for herself. When she gets angry, she shoots from all corners of her mouth. If the romantic drama was about the trip, not the prize, it would be quite interesting to see her character. You can’t get a complete picture of her psyche until the climate is resolved. It’s hard to get into her head. The whole episode revolves around why she’s not in the mood to throw a party – it’s just gasoline and no juice. You can’t side with her unless you know what’s going on, right?
30 Wed. 21 not a disappointment. But even this is not a pleasure.