Made in Heaven Character Discussion Post: Shivani/Jazz and Shashank/Kabir

I’m combining these two, because their storyline was so interwoven in this season. Plus, interest in the MiH posts is dwindling so I want to get them over with. (oh, and index of all my Made in Heaven reviews is here)

Jazz and Kabir are placed together by the narrative and made into a bit of false equals. They are both more of the lower level assistant kind of working roles. I realized halfway through the series that part of the reason Zoya feels so comfortable with this setting is that it is almost identical to a film set. You have the visionaries, Sobhita/Tara and Arjun/Karan in the roles of the director/writer. The bride and groom are the demanding “stars”. And the family is the producers funding it all. And then you have the “production” folks, the ones who are from the lowest part of society and do the things like packing boxes and tying ribbons. It’s a strange and wonderful melting pot of Indian society, everyone coming together to make a dream come true, and brought into a closeness through that shared goal. Jazz and Kabir, they are the lower down ones, the ones who don’t really interact with the clients as much (Kabir does the interviews, but he doesn’t do the sales), the ones who have to do the grunt work.

The first part of the series seems to be setting up an idea that Jazz will have a crush on Karan, her boss, the one far above her, and then get over that and see the lowly fellow “servant” type who loves her. But then the second half goes in a far more interesting direction and says “no, the world is more complicated than that”. First, although at work they are together in the lower production level, in the real world they aren’t actually the same class. Kabir is shocked when he sees how she lives. Falling for Kabir would still be reaching above her class for her, and him reaching down. And that brings with it the same challenges of miss-communication and power abuses that we see played out among the much higher classes.

Jazz is a fascinating character, she is like Sobhita in so many ways except that, where Sobhita was trained and believed that marriage was her only way out, Jazz over the course of this series, early on in her journey, learns to see things a different way. She loves her job, and she is good at her job. She still gets a crush on the boss and goes after him, and when that doesn’t work out, she starts considering a new dream castle around her almost-equal-at-work-but-superior-in-the-world Kabir. She struggles with this relationship and ultimately lets it go too, sees that he isn’t what she really wants. Her pride and hope comes from the success of her job, from the satisfaction of helping the last bride find her own happiness, and putting one over on the most powerful people of the city. She can go back to her old boyfriend without feeling like she is betraying her future or making a “foolish” choice, because she is so much more than just who she sleeps with.

Jazz is also a bit of a statement on affirmative action or, in Indian terms, “scheduled castes”. She isn’t low caste that I can see, and she is Sikh anyway so a bit beyond caste, but she is desperately poor. And because she is so poor, she gets cut some slack that would not be offered to another employee. And that is fair. She messes up twice, the first time when she posts images, that is something anyone might have done who was new to the job, excited about rubbing shoulders with celebrities, and she makes up for it with her own intelligence and ability, showing her value. The second time though, that is directly related to her poverty and background. She buys clothes with the office credit card because she has never had such nice clothes before, because she has to slip while watching these people that have so much and she has so little, it’s an impulse but it is an impulse born of massive economic injustice. And she is forgiven and rehired partly because she really really needs the job, and she deserves to be forgiven for a mistake born of systemic injustice. It’s one small story of empathy and understanding and using privilege as you can to make things equal. Compared to, for instance, in Ki & Ka when Arjun’s reaction to the maid meeting her boyfriend in their apartment is to take advantage of her further, not to understand the massive advantages he already has and avoid “punching down” even more.

Image result for made in heaven jazz shivani

That “punching down”, that is what bothers me about Kabir’s character. He starts out seeming kind and sympathetic, he is good in his interviews with the families, he is nice to Jazz, and so on. But eventually we see how he looks down on everyone involved and, to me, it feels like he is blind to his own privilege. It’s easy for a man with an education to be dismissive of a young woman who is trying to make the best marriage she can. Or be dismissive of Jazz, his co-worker, who seems a bit starry eyed about the wealth they work in. To say they have false values or wrong values and so on. But, has he ever been hungry? Or afraid? Or felt he did not have the freedom to say what he wants? No, he hasn’t! It’s different to choose a lower path than to be forced on it.

And that’s what I got from his interactions with Jazz as they become clear in the last episode. He was her friend, helpful, for the first half of the series. When he saw what her background really was like, he was sympathetic and helped her get her job back. And then he keeps photographing her, looking at her, acting like he finds her beautiful, until they have sex. It’s a mutual decision to have sex, no promises involved, and no regrets. But then he keeps trying to take her hand, to hug her, and so on. He may not ever say it out loud, but the message he is giving her is “I really really like you, I want to be boyfriend-girlfriend, I want a real relationship and not just one night”. She confronts him, and he doesn’t respond, leaving her to assume that she was right in her assumption. And then he invites her to his apartment and we, the audience, discover that he isn’t some poor struggling cameraman living at home, he is rich enough to have his own large-ish apartment with a girlfriend. His free time isn’t spent worrying about his family and bills and so on, it is spent getting high with his friends. And Jazz discovers that rather than falling in love with her, he has had a girlfriend all along.

This is just wrong, I think. Not for Jazz and Kabir to have sex in the first place, we don’t know the terms of his relationship (his girlfriend says she has heard about Jazz which to me implies that Kabir tells her everything), and Jazz’s deal with her garage man is clearly on her terms whenever she wants it with no promises. But what was wrong was to lead Jazz on, especially when he knew she was a young woman of a different class, one who would expect love to be followed by marriage, and one who might count a lot on marriage to someone like him. If this whole thing was to “teach her a lesson”, that is terribly patronizing and patriarchal, to decide for himself that Jazz should learn not to count too much on a man. And if the whole thing was an accident, that is disgustingly insensitive, to not think through the message he was sending by his behavior, or at least tell her straight out when she brings it up “I am polyamorous, I love my girlfriend, but if you are okay with that, I would like to be with you too.”

Image result for made in heaven kabir

That’s how Kabir’s character reads to me by the end of the series. A skewering of hypocrisy and false virtue, of the type who rejects all the rules of society so long as you follow his own new rules for how to be. While Jazz is his opposite, the character who lives most firmly in the real world where you can try to do your best, to be a free-thinker and an open-mind, but the obstacles in front of you are enormous.

What do you think?

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15 thoughts on “Made in Heaven Character Discussion Post: Shivani/Jazz and Shashank/Kabir

  1. That was a wonderful critique of Kabir as a character. After binge watching the show and staying up late, I needed to know what others thought of him and his behavior. Thank you for sharing 🙂

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    • Thank you for commenting! What did you think of him? I am honestly not sure if I am reading him correctly or not. He seems like the wise “woke” voice that should be the guide for the viewer, but then his actions in the last episode just don’t make sense to me unless he is supposed to be a bit of a jerk, his whole “woke” thing is just because he has never had to ask himself the hard questions that everyone else in the show struggles with.

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  2. By sorry but all of this seems a bit too exaggerated for me.. Whhat I see this as that he was a man who was initially amused then attracted and they both wanted to be tower that one evening.. He wanted more,she said no and he moved on.
    I feel like there was a certain timeline that was obviously not shown between the night they kiss and the night she goes to his house and that he wasn’t two timing her for sure.
    Also,never was this idea put across that Kabir was poor or anything so the fact that he enjoys in his “large-ish” house shouldn’t be a problem.
    Anyway,what I mean is that I really liked the character.. His conclusions,the question he ask,his chemistry with jazz–all of it resonated with me as a viewer.
    So maybe were both wrong maybe just I am.. But I guess I like my version better,cause it doesn’t ruin my fav character in the show. :p
    Fun reading you blogs though. 🙂

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    • Thank you for reading and commenting!

      I think you put your finger on the place that the Kabir character pivots around, what was the time line of the two women? As we see it in the show, it seems like there must have been an overlap. They sleep together, and two episodes later he is living with someone. With an episode in between where he seems to be coming on to her again. There could be plenty of explanations, like he rushed in to the second relationship and went from dating to living together very fast, or he had broken up with his girlfriend and then got back together with her. If there was overlap, than Kabir slept with a young woman and lead her on to expect more even though he was in a serious relationship already and would never have more to offer. If there wasn’t overlap, than it’s like you said, Kabir liked her, their relationship slowly grew, she wasn’t interested, he moved on. I really hope we get more clarity next season!

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  3. Why is it wrong for Kabir to flirt with Jazz while he has a girlfriend while it is okay for her to sleep with her garage man while flirting with Kabir?

    I started out disliking Kabir, and then grew to like him. His character is sophomoric, so self assuredly smart he’s stupid. I felt that he, like the rest of us was fascinated by Jazz’s personality. And she rejected him before he invited her to the party. I could have missed something, but I don’t think he expected her to get so upset.

    My personal rules are strong. I feel Kabir was completely, completely wrong to sleep with Jazz without telling her he had a girlfriend. But I also feel it is terrible what Jazz is doing to her garage man, worse. She won’t commit to garage man, who clearly cares for her and is there for her and is a real support, because he is poor. She is not innocent. Her character is fascinating and naive, but worse than the hurt she recieves from Kabir, is the hurt she giving. Of course I don’t actually know that her garage man is hurt, his character is a backdrop. But the idea that all a man wants is sex, and that that is all a woman needs to give him to fulfill his dreams is a sad cultural trope that is oddly perpetuated by females.

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    • I may be miss-remembering, but I think my issue is that Kabir is actively going after Jazz, up to the point of saying “I love you” while knowing he has a girlfriend at home that he will never leave. Jazz goes to Garage Man for comfort sex, but then tries to cut him out of her life after that, she isn’t pursuing him or leading him on. As I saw it, they weren’t in a relationship during the season, she made the choice not to be with him because she wanted something else in life, and except for that one moment of weakness, she doesn’t let herself fall back on him. I read her ending as her deciding that she can be with Garage Man and still be a success, she doesn’t have to choose between love and success.

      On the other hand, now that I write this out, I realize we don’t really get to see Kabir as much. We don’t know what was going on with him, maybe he broke up with his girlfriend for Jazz and then they got back together before the party. Or maybe he was happy with his girlfriend all along and leading Jazz to expect a different kind of relationship. So, next season I want to see Jazz and Garage Man together as a healthy couple (we don’t have a single healthy romantic couple in our main characters, do we?), and get more background on who Kabir is outside of work.

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  4. I think you are overthinking Kabir’s motives. He’s supposed to be the arty free spirit, so having a live-in girlfriend and also having sex with Jazz are not inconsistent behaviors. That is why he doesn’t look so upset when she tells him he’s not for her: indeed, he’s quietly surprised that she even expects a relationship. (I was actually confused by her forceful rejection of him followed by her anxious visit to his place— if she really was approaching the interaction from a more traditional point of view, why did she even go? And she was not dressed in meet-the-parents garb, so one wonders what she was expecting.)
    I was disappointed that they had sex because I liked their bantering, comfortable relationship. And I think she’s pleased at the end because she’s got garage man and maybe realizes she can be friends with Kabir and doesn’t need to expect or want more, and that their one night stand doesn’t have to have meant anything.
    I came late to this series so I’m so happy to have found a place to virtually discuss the show! Thank you for all the thought and work you put into these descriptions. I found the Tara discussion really fascinating and insightful.

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    • Thank you for commenting! As you saw, I did put in a lot of work and I really like it that people are still reading it.

      I think, with your interpretation, I still am mad at Kabir. Because of the power imbalance issue. He can’t just have sex with people, when those people are so much lower on the social scale than he is. If Jazz was a rich girl, with a family to fall back on and stuff, I would have no problem. But if she misinterprets Kabir’s behavior, it could rapidly destroy her whole life (lead to her being fired, thrown out of her house, etc. etc., for nothing). It all worked out of course, but it easily couldn’t have, and Kabir seems to have not considered that at all.

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      • Yes, this is a good point. He should have thought about the power imbalance but probably there wasn’t a lot of thinking going on. It is too bad because it would have been a nice parallel with Tara/Karan to have the most solid relationships—the best friendships—in the show be the ones that did not involve sex.

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        • If that’s how they go in season 2, I would really love that. As friends, I think Kabir and Jazz could be really good for each other. They have such different backgrounds, the friendship would open up new worlds and expand their thinking in a healthy way.

          On Sun, Feb 2, 2020 at 12:12 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. In my thought , Kabir started loving her , despite having his girlfriend ; n I find it quite natural. Hence they ended up making out. But as many are stating , he used her , no he didn’t. Rather he hooded his hand the very next day . Protected her form that “sexiest bride ever” and layer consoled her when she was crying. But that’s when he realised that his love is rather one sided n he decided to go back to his girlfriend. He invites her to the party so that they can still be good friends and he don’t lose her presence. When asked by jazz that whether he loves her girlfriend, he hesitate for a moment , bcoz he probably still loves her. Please tell me your opinion .

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    • All of this could be true, but what I find shady is that he didn’t tell her any of it. The signals he was giving were saying “I am in love with you” and to a vulnerable young woman living in poverty, that quickly turned into a fantasy of marriage. If he had said before they made out “I have a girlfriend”, and later “I think I want to go back to my girlfriend” that would have been different. Of course, she also had her old boyfriend, but that was clearly not a real relationship any more, so there was no reason to tell Kabir about it. Also, with her ex, she was harsh and unwelcoming to him when he tried to help her, no mixed messages, they had the one night together and then she immediately pushed him away again so he would know it was still over. Unlike Kabir, who never really told Jazz what he was thinking or all the information about his life, just let it surprise her in a very hurtful way.

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