Made in Heaven LAST EPISODE, Episode 9: Runaway Brides

Well, that took me 48 hours to finish! A sign of a very good show, considering I had to go to work in the middle of that. And sleep. (oh, and index of all my Made in Heaven reviews is here)

The story in this episode breaks down into two neat halves, the wedding and then the personal. The wedding is the big political wedding we have been hearing about for the past several episodes. The bride is acting strangely, Arjun and Sobhita and Shashank are suspicious, they secretly pass her a note and get a note back asking them to “call John”. They meet with him, he is her college boyfriend, a Christian from Kerala. Her family doesn’t approve because he is “only” an engineer, and they need the political alliance. Her older sister fell in love too, and they had her boyfriend killed and she committed suicide. John and the bride don’t know what to do. Shashank manages to speak to the bride and warn her she is being drugged, and then they manage to sneak her out that night in a crowd of Hijras. The next day, she is married in a church to her boyfriend, and then goes outside to face the media and tell them that if anything happens to her, they should blame her father. After this triumph, all of our central characters feel an extra strength to go after what they want in their own lives. Shivani speaks to Shashank and asks if he really likes her or if he likes the woman she has just discovered he is living with more, Shashank says he loves his girlfriend, so at the end Shivani goes back to her mechanic boyfriend and smiles. Sobhita finally confronts Jim and leaves him, after telling him that she set up the leaked video to begin with, she’s tricked him into this whole thing. Arjun reaches out to his first love from high school and they meet in a hotel, he apologizes and they make love and then say good-bye. Arjun returns to the offices to find them vandalized by Hindutva terrorists, Sobhita finds him there, and reveals that she left Jim but took a bag stuffed with jewels with her, they will be fine.

Image result for made in heaven prime

Did anyone else notice that the length of the episodes varied? It’s one of the luxuries of streaming instead of traditional broadcast, you can make an episode a few minutes longer if the story requires it. And this is an episode with a lot of story, so it is a lot longer.

There is only one bit that doesn’t really fit in tidily, that probably could have been cut, but it is so fun that I don’t care. Sobhita finally confesses to Jim that they gave a 10% stake to Vijay Raaz and Vijay is coming to the investors presentation the next day. And Vijay comes ready to PLAY. He confronts them over spending so much money on upfront costs like the fancy office, and when Jim tries to shut him up, Vijay turns to confront Jim on how his own company is in trouble, revealing that his wife owns a 3% stake in Jim’s company. Vijay is way more than he appears on the surface, and he may be the financial guiding hand that Jim has failed to be to the company. Mostly though, this scene is super fun for how we get to see pretentious know-it-all Jim get schooled by an old-school money man, one who is officially a “plumber” but probably has his finger in more industries one way or another than Jim does. Including Vijay calling Jim out on the way he is constantly sending little sneak attacks in his conversations, when Jim mentions something about Arjun’s jail term, and Vijay confronts him with “why would you say that? Why would you remind the boy that happened?” It’s just great, and I don’t care that it has no real plot or thematic point.

The structure really shouldn’t work, this clear line between the first and second half of the narrative, and yet it does. We are carried along like the characters, the triumph of the impossible wedding escape brings us into wanting them to finally confront the issues in their own lives, escape from their own traps. And to do that, they first have to confront their own “original sin”. Interesting that theme comes up in the episode with the first Christian wedding.

Shashank’s story first, because it is the most surprising and satisfying to me. In the last episode, Shashank defended Shivani and then tried to hug and comfort her, and she pushed him off, saying he wasn’t what she wanted for her life, she was worried he was falling in love. In this episode, she dresses up nicely for a party at his house, and arrives to discover a crowd of young people, passing a bong, and Shashank casually kissing his live-in girlfriend. He’s a jerk, basically. He may be kind (mostly) at work, to his co-workers and the clients, but at heart he thinks he is better than them, all of them. He doesn’t see them as real people. We saw that already in the Ludhiana episode, he teases Arjun, and Arjun argues back that he doesn’t deserve this, he has been kind of Shashank and let him edit his documentary on their equipment (voice over semi-explanation), no reason for Shashank to feel so superior. And in the same episode, Shashank has to admit that he didn’t really care about the bride, thought her situation was funny, until he came to realize how difficult it was. Shashank learns that lesson again when he sees Shivani’s home and discovers just how desperate her situation is. And yet it doesn’t seem to have sunk in.

Is it just me? does he seem pretentious or decent to you?

Shivani came to his house thinking he might be introducing her to his family, only to discover it is a crowd of stoner young people. Shashank doesn’t greet her, make her feel welcome, or even realize he has done something wrong. Maybe he did all of this to get back at her for rejecting him, that’s pretty terrible, because he was pursuing her, she had a right to think so and to respond. Even worse, maybe it didn’t even occur to him, maybe he lives in the moment so much and floats through life, that the connection of a poor girl he had sex with at work maybe being hurt when she meets his girlfriend and sees his life didn’t ever happen. I don’t know where Shashank will go in the next series, but it’s an interesting journey from him as the wise noble poor soul to him as the pretentious stoner ass. That’s his original sin, and he doesn’t really make up for it in this episode, just reveals it.

I am so glad Shivani gets past Shashank and back to her garage boyfriend. It could have looked like regressing, only we end with her smile, curled up in his arms. Instead, it feels like Shashank got her turned around, unclear in her own mind as to what she wanted. She confessed her own “original sin” to a priest when they are arranging the church for the wedding. We don’t hear her confession, but we don’t need to, all we need to know is that she comes out smiling and feeling better. It could be sleeping with Shashank without loving him, it could be sleeping with her garage boyfriend when she could do better, it could be stealing from the company to buy clothes, or something we don’t even know about yet. But she feels cleansed, and so she can talk openly to Shashank and ask him if he cares for her, at all. And understand when he says “no”, not just understand that he isn’t interested, but that he doesn’t deserve her. She can go back to her old love with a clean heart, knowing he really is the best man in her life. At least, that’s how I read her ending.

Image result for made in heaven shivani
So happy for her!

And then there’s Sobhita. As I feared, it is revealed that she was the one who released the sex tape that lead to Jim’s engagement ending and them starting a relationship for real. But far more important is the reveal of how he came to propose to her. It was the night Kalki lent her the fancy dress, the first time she was really dressed “right”. And she tells him she is sorry, so sorry, he did nothing wrong, and she ruined his whole life. That’s her persona then, that’s how she got him. As the innocent secretary who was seduced into loving him, who was grateful for the crumbs he tossed her way, who was humble and sweet and turned out to be the best wife he could have. It wasn’t as a beautiful temptress, it was as the helpless but dignified woman he could mold.

What really matters though, in this flashback and in Sobhita’s memory as she thinks of it, is that this was happening the night Kalki got engaged. And Jim was looking at Kalki, only Kalki. In this episode she finally acknowledges and understands her real sin. It’s not that she tricked Jim into marrying her, she has been a wonderful wife to him in every way and truly came to love him, and he was the one who decided to cheat on his fiancee in the first place. It’s certainly not breaking up his engagement which was lifeless and doomed from the start. No, it is being the distraction between him and Kalki. Kalki is Muslim, Jim is Hindu. They are part of the same group of friends, the same social class, but it goes without saying that marriage would be a special effort. Not impossible, but an effort, and Jim is bad at making an effort. If Sobhita hadn’t been there those years ago, maybe Kalki would have been the one to break up Jim’s engagement (we heard in an earlier episode about her throwing away the engagement ring), maybe they could have been together and happy all this time. Maybe Kalki wouldn’t be struggling with the after effects of an abusive marriage. Maybe all along it has been about Jim running to Kalki, not away from Sobhita or his fiancee before her. That is Sobhita’s sin, coming between these two people. But then, she did put in the work on this marriage, and he did break her heart, and she was “paid” in jewels every time (the opening of the episode is her mother-in-law giving her another necklace), so why not take her payment and run with it? Back to the person she “fits” with, as she says Kalki and Jim fit, Arjun.

Image result for made in heaven sobhita arjun

Arjun has had his own confession and forgiveness. Back in high school, he abandoned his boyfriend, lied that it was one sided, even wrote hate speech on his locker. And his boyfriend was transferred out of school, never to be seen again. They are meeting now, the boyfriend (Vikrant Massay, for those devout fans out there) says right away that he is married, living a happy “normal” life. But their connection is so intense that any pretense of normal small talk falls away quickly, Arjun says he is sorry, so sorry for what he did. And Vikrant admits he has hated him for all these years. And then they make love. This is the sex scene I was waiting for, one that is loving and sexy and gentle all at once. Not just “oh look, two men having sex!” but instead “oh look, two old lovers reuniting”.

And speaking of “original sin”, that’s a bit what this wedding is as well. Every wedding this season has had some bitterness in with the sweet. But they have all been voluntary. The bride and groom both, of their own free will, made the decision to accept this marriage. Their reasons may not have been “true love”, but it was still their decision in the end. But the great sin that the Indian way of marriage hides, the marriages that are arranged by families and involve alliances and money and society more than the couple, is that sometimes the couple doesn’t agree. Specifically, usually, the bride doesn’t agree. The wedding has the shadow of politics over it, but I don’t think politics is the point. It’s just a means to an end. All over India there are brides being forced into marriages against their will. But in this show for these characters, they have the power to save almost all those brides. We saw that in the earlier episodes, they gave them a choice, they were ready to call the police, to call a lawyer, to do whatever the bride wanted without regard to her family. The only bride they cannot save is this woman, daughter of a powerful political family with its fingers in the police, the courts, everywhere. The political setting is just to get to that, the end all of Delhi society, the one group that is truly untouchable, above the industrialists and the royals.

Image result for tanu weds manu
remember in Tanu Weds Manu how Kangana is drugged for the first meeting and much of the wedding prep so she won’t run? Drugging the bride, or otherwise forcing her, not that strange. Just strange to have it happen in a family that the police can’t touch

And the solution is to set against them the other group that is untouchable, the group that is so low nothing more can be done to them, those in power don’t even see them, the Hijras. Hijras are there at every wedding, unnoticed but also impossible to reject, in order to bless the bride and groom. They come in the back door, the shove the groom around, they isolate the bride, and they take her away before anyone has noticed. The lowest saves the highest.

That’s where we end this series, with those who started at as high brought low, and yet at the same time freed. Sobhita has cut all her ties, spectacularly, with the family that bought her entry to high society, she is back to being a nobody with only her wits to save her. Arjun has been brought to earth with the vandalization of his offices, the reminder that he is not safe anywhere, and the confrontation with the broken heart that has still not healed from that high school romance. Shivani is literally back on the ground, sleeping with her low class boyfriend instead of chasing a high class jerk. But it’s better that way, they are where they belong in the world instead of pretending to be something they aren’t. They are where Heaven made them to be.

(I’ll be putting up character posts and a “second season-what do we want?” post shortly, look forward to that and save some thoughts for them!)

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17 thoughts on “Made in Heaven LAST EPISODE, Episode 9: Runaway Brides

  1. A thought about the Hijras and their crucial role in saving the bride: they are the lowest in society, lower even than women but in fact they were born as men. It is the male part of them that can shove that horrible political groom who has mistress at the ready out of the room. When they need to call upon it they have male power but always have female empathy just as you described Arjun.

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  2. How hot is that scene btw Arjun and Vikrant Massey. Swoon! Kudos to the series just for normalising gay love and showing it as lovingly and tenderly as the hetro love.Also big credits to the actors for not balking at the idea.
    The groom has an assistant who is in love with him and gets restless when she sees the bride & groom getting closer? Why was that relevant? Shashank Arora having a live in girlfriend is similar to Shivani having a comfort boyfriend back home rt? Both were living in the moment when they had sex and Shivani thought it was something more from his side. But later realises that he likes her but doesn’t really love her and after the confession she is okay with that? So hopefully they will continue as friends who support each other with love removed from the equation.
    Why does Arjun cry out in the car after leaving Vikrant? He got closure or he is heart broken that he lost out on Vikrant? In the earlier (or same)episode when Arjun checks Vikrant’s FB profile,there’s a picture with a man. So he is married to a man only rt? If so,I don’t like Vikrant cheating with Arjun, however strong their connection was. I hope they make Vikrant &Vijay Raaz recurring characters in season 2.
    This series,or maybe the last episode was cramped with too many ideas and parallels.Come to think of it,all the episodes were tad long.Im so exhausted from watching that I don’t have the energy to recall the details.Did u take down notes as u were watching? Sobhita in red sari towards the end & them both plopping down on the desk and sharing a smoke was a satisfying end. She left her husband and he left his broken heart?

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    • It is SO HOT!!! I was watching the earlier gay sex scene thinking “why does this not feel hot? It’s two naked men, it should be”. But there was no emotion to it, and this scene was all emotion. I also really liked his interactions with his American boyfriend in the previous episode, just laying in bed together, gently touching his hair, it was loving and physical like any other couple.

      I assumed Vikrant was married to a woman because he said something about “normal”, and also because he talked about hating Arjun until today. I got a picture of another sad closeted gay husband, his life turning away from being himself when he was outed in high school. I also want more of him, and the movie left the door open for that I think, they ended it with a promise to stay in touch and he was in town on a work trip, maybe this will turn into a regular thing and Arjun will have to deal with the pain of being “the other man” and knowing what he is doing to the innocent wife. I saw Arjun crying as partly catharsis, and partly wishing for what could have been. Kind of like 96, it would have been easier to think Vikrant didn’t still love him, to think that it was just love on his side. Now he knows they are in love and just can’t be together.

      I wrote my posts as quickly as I could after watching the episodes so I would remember what happened when, and I still missed stuff. I had to stick in the paragraph on Vijay Raaz after I published the post because I totally forgot that scene. I love that ending though, if there never is a series 2 I can live with where they left it. But I really hope there is!

      On Wed, Mar 13, 2019 at 12:02 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I was just rereading this comment and I had a new thought about why they had to show the groom’s mistress/assistant. It was a subtle lesson about patriarchy, and helped us understand how much this bride was the victim. Neither of them were in love, but the groom could still be with his girlfriend during the planning and after the wedding, she was right there. It was the bride who had to be virginal, who had to be threatened and drugged to stay away from her boyfriend. Plus, if we hadn’t seen the groom, there would have been the open question of “how much does he know? Is he also being forced?” We know, he isn’t being forced, he is happily marrying a woman he doesn’t love or even know and planning to keep up his side relationship. There’s that not-so-subtle nod to how sure he is that the rules don’t apply to him, when he is talking with his mistress while smoking a cigarette in the film studio.

      On Wed, Mar 13, 2019 at 12:02 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. “I assumed Vikrant was married to a woman because he said something about “normal”, and also because he talked about hating Arjun until today.” No, I think the whole point is that he is married to a man. There is a flash of a picture of him in a loving pose with an African American man. I think that is to tell us that he is in Europe or the US and can marry legally. That is what breaks Arjun’s heart. Had he had it in him to be braver, younger (not that it is in any way his fault that he is not. His MOTHER broke his hand) he might have been married to Vikrant.

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    • Oh, that’s terrible! And that’s exactly the same as 96 then, the heartbreak isn’t the lost love, it’s the realization of how close they came to having that love for real. If the relationship continues into the next season, that also adds a whole new flavor to it, Vikrant isn’t just cheating on a wife he can never really love, he is cheating on a husband and a real marriage. And Arjun has to decide if he wants to push for something more, try to break up Vikrant’s marriage as Sobhita broke up Jim’s engagement.

      On Wed, Mar 13, 2019 at 4:05 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Can I just talk about how much I love Nawab? Not only because he is played by my dream boyfriend, but because all he has ever wanted is to be able to love Karan and have him love him back. He didn’t care about being beaten up by Karan’s mother or humiliated. I keep coming back to the bullying scene where Karan is humiliating him and all Nawab says is “we can talk something out Karan”. EVEN IN THAT MOMENT he just wants to fix things with Karan. He seeks Karan out after everything. My poor, broken-hearted baby. I can’t fault him for cheating.

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        • Yes! He is so mature and kind and forgiving, even as a teenager. Here’s a thought, Nawab’s forgiveness of Karan teaches Karan to be that graceful and understanding himself. He is endlessly understanding of Sobhita’s faults, and forgives Jazz, and forgives everything they see the brides and grooms do. Do you think it is partly because he feels his own guilt for what he did to Nawab, and partly because he experienced how wonderful it was to have someone just forgive and understand?

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          • I want to believe that. I think it is also what leads him to forgive his landlord. He has been carrying that guilt for so long, and it is his way of making it up to Nawab. Nawab made him a better person, and ultimately allows him to heal.

            WAAAAH I cry.

            Also LOOK AT THIS POST. Read Arjun’s and vikrant’s comments https://www.instagram.com/p/BfpcXhlHWUN/

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  4. But I thought that it was Nawab who created all the mess in the Made in Heaven office in the end scene, only to get the revenge fir Karan’s action which made Nawab leave the school overnight and made him bear all the shame and tease alone.

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    • No, definitely not. There was hate speech written all over and saffron flags, it was the bullies who were at his speech earlier. Plus, Nawab was with him until a few minutes earlier, he couldn’t have done it.

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    • Good lord, no!!! Nawab, despite everything Karan did to him, only wanted to help heal Karan. HE forgives him in one minute, after Karan betrayed him, humiliated him and didn’t reach out for years. He is there for Karan and the only person who Karan can confide in.

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  5. I’m so late to this series and now I have feelings all by myself on my couch :(.

    This was a really interesting post because I’m on board with your insightful thematic readings and illumination of the structure, but I had a totally different reaction to the characters. I feel like you’re still searching for traditional love stories, but this episode is all about breaking free of the traditional love stories. Karan and Vikrant: Vikrant is having sex outside of his marriage, but how are we to know if that would be a problem for his husband? I see Vikrant having feelings for Karan, but the kind of unresolved feelings from teenage love, bound up with the heartbreak from how they separated. For Karan, Vikrant is his original sin (exactly right!) and the love he never allowed himself to name – in the moment because he was afraid, and later as an adult because he never let himself be vulnerable with anyone. This is the first time they’re seeing each other as mature people, I don’t take it for granted that this cathartic reunion means they’re made for each other. Maybe it’s just a way for them both to let go of the past and move on. I think Karan is sobbing in the car because he’s finally letting himself feel the pain he’s been shutting himself off to – pain from his mother, from his years of hiding, from the attacks he’s endured, from his arrest and assault in jail. Being with Vikrant lets him face himself, but it doesn’t fix everything that’s happened to him.

    Shivani: like MVP, I don’t see her as better or more pure than Shashank, or especially hung up on him. Purity isn’t a virtue in this world. Was she sleeping with her garage boyfriend before? Maybe seeing Shashank kissing his girlfriend was a shock because she comes from a traditional home, but the confession in the church helped her realize that it wasn’t troubling her because she wanted to be with Shashank but because he was free in a way she never allowed herself to be. And then she went back and slept with garage boyfriend with no guilt. Not because they’re meant to be together, but because she can make her own choices, the respectability facade is meaningless.

    Shashank: I like him more at the end than at the beginning, quite a lot actually. He turned into my favorite character. He’s our truth teller, our trickster who subverts the rules. Again, as with Vikrant, you can judge him as a cheater only if you assume that his relationship is monogamous and exclusive. Maybe? Maybe not. She doesn’t seem the jealous type. If you don’t see him as wrongfully seducing Shivani, I think he’s the only main character who never lives a lie, never has a reckoning with his own cowardice and dishonesty. That’s why he’s the narrator and the gaze through which we watch the rest of the stories.

    Jim and Kalki: I can’t see this as true love. As you said when cheering on the therapist, Kalki is deceiving herself and this is not a healthy relationship. Jim has never put himself at risk for anyone. They both lack the courage and self-awareness that the other characters come to over the arc of the series.

    Sobhita: no real argument here. I agree she sees herself as coming between Jim and Kalki. But the more important realization is that the perfect life she was always striving for, the life she molded and polished herself for, and lied and cheated and interfered in Jim’s other relationships to attain, it doesn’t make her happy. The money and status don’t make her happy. She leaves for herself, to give herself the hope of a happier future, built on honesty and being true to herself.

    And I also loved that it was the lowest who brought down the highest! That was so satisfying. Shashank and Shivani working with the hijras, leaving Sobhita and Karan with plausible deniability and the appearance of clean hands. Plus the bride and groom, mismatched in all the ways that matter to the perfect political wedding, but caring for each other’s safety and happiness as humans. I’m picky about endings, but that wedding and the last scene with the bag of jewels were perfect.

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    • I can see your version of everything, except Shashank. Still hate Shashank.

      Arjun: I hope it is the case that this was one night. But I wonder, because the writers made the decision to make Vikrant married and to have Vikrant say something about “maybe next time I am in town”. So they left the door open for this to be another way to explore infidelity, if they want. If it was a one season thing, I would say the point of the scene was just to show Arjun’s catharsis, but since they have a second season, I’ll be curious if they leave it as Arjun being a more open and honest person in his relationships or if they start exploring more consequences of Vikrant.

      Shivani: I agree that her realization at the end is that she can make her own choices and be happy and not feel guilt. But I don’t think it is a moment of her imitating Shashank, or learning from him, I still think it was a moment of learning that Shashank is another person she doesn’t understand, another person who doesn’t fit her dream visions, and letting go of that whole idea of dream visions and accepting and appreciating reality.

      Shashank: Nope, totally hate him. Even if he was intended by the writers to be the truth teller, I don’t like the character they created. He allows his sense of moral superiority to make him feel above all the drama and lies around him, but the human experience is about getting in there and getting your hands dirty. Every other character made mistakes and told lies because they were living their lives. Shashank held himself apart, he was never hurt or guilty or regretful because he never DID anything!!!!

      Jim and Kalki: I can’t see it as true love either (unless I said it was? I can’t remember, I wrote so much! Anyway, I disagree with Past-Margaret now), but I can see it as a relationship that was there before Sobhita and will be there after. the show seemed to be treading a fine line between agreeing to their love story, and showing us how the characters have enough evidence to convince themselves of the love story. Even Sobhita has enough evidence to convince herself, she knows Jim only proposed because he was upset about Kalki getting married. That doesn’t mean “true love” but it does mean “weird strong relationship that Sobhita was perfectly aware of and moved forward with marrying Jim anyway”.

      Sobhita: I also think she leaves out of a realization of loneliness. Like the other runaway bride in the show, she is in a rich household with people around her who say the right things and do the right things, but she feels completely alone. That was the theme through out the show for her, right from the first episode they built in the shock of “wait, Sobhita and Arjun aren’t a couple? He’s gay and she’s married to a rich man?” because they feel like a couple, they feel like the ones who belong together. Sobhita is only truly fully herself, loved and happy, when she is with Arjun. And, to a lessor extent, the other people at the office. She is at an anniversary party with all these people praising her, and it means nothing. At least, that’s how I saw it, we end the show with another runaway bride who has chosen to go be with her true partner instead of the man her parents chose.

      On Thu, Oct 10, 2019 at 11:54 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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