Such a good interesting episode! Takes everyone out of their place and problems and brings them to a new place and different problems.
They are doing this wedding as a favor to a friend of Arjun’s. He is loud and Punjabi and offensive, and sometimes does drugs. He is small town and sloppy, but he loves Arjun (non-romantically) and is there for him. And it is his loud sloppy embarrassing but caring and troubled spirit that is this wedding, loud and trashy and embarrassing and easy to dismiss as a joke, but covering up something real and troubled.
An NRI family holds a beauty contest to find a bride for their son, and now they have hired Sobhita and Arjun to organize the wedding. What’s terrifying is that this is “normal”. For the struggling small town girls, these bride competitions are regular events, and they are golden tickets out of town. The bride has been preparing for this for years, ready to fall in love with whatever NRI man she can “win”. And the groom’s family sees this as normal too, their son is a prize, the girl who wins him should be the best.
When our group first goes in to talk to the bride and groom, something feels off. The groom’s bachelor party is at a strip club, and meanwhile the bride has no experience at all. The bride confidently and happily talks about how wonderful their life will be, how America is worth it. And no, she has never been there, but she is sure it must be better than where she is. The groom’s family has a vision for what they want and who she should be, and she is ready to make herself over and leave everything behind. It’s what Sobhita did, and the other brides they have helped, but so much more extreme. And it is all built around sex. The bride wants a heart shaped bed for the wedding night, it is her only request. And her mother nervously asks to make sure it happens, we can read her worry for her inexperienced daughter in her concerns.
And then it all goes wrong in the most unpredictable way. The husband is impotent. His ex-wife was trying to reach the bride earlier to warn her, not about loneliness or cheating or abuse, but about impotency. And how it will always be her fault, she will always be blamed for it. Sobhita and Arjun talk to her caringly, they have always cared about their clients but this is an out of town episode, they care that much more, because they are pulled away from everything else they have to care about, adrift and lost in this world with no hope. And they can’t help, they can’t even fix this one problem for a stranger, she won’t get a divorce or an annulment, she wants to go to America, and a divorce would mean her life in this town is over and there is no hope of a better future. She would rather live in her misery and make her own way.
All the other stories are in an odd holding pattern too. Back in Delhi, Jim is talking to Kalki and saying good-bye, Kalki is talking to her (remarkably blunt and I love her) therapist and working through how she now feels more of a loss of friendship than she does of of her lover, and Arjun’s landlord’s wife has found the video of him with another man, immediately understood that her husband is using it as pornography, and threatened him without threatening him that he has to take it to the police or she will know what it really was.
And then there is Shivani back in Delhi and Natasha Singh struggling and feeling forgotten in Jaipur. I haven’t talked about their storylines for the past few episodes because they kind of existed in parallel. Shivani got fired and came home to discover her drug addict brother had stolen everything, including the jewelry set aside for her wedding. She went to a garage in the rain and had sex with the mechanic there, clearly a regular thing. This episode, she tracks down her brother and beats him. Shivani is interesting, because she starts out seeming naive and fragile, but over and over again reveals a sense for people and how to get by in the world. That is what Sobhita sees in her, sees herself, someone with the possibility of growing to be something much more if she just has a helping hand.
And then there is Natasha, who I haven’t talked about at all. And now that I think about it, Natasha and Shivani are the yin and yang of each other. Natasha started out with the company but hasn’t grown with it. She is still the production assistant, not meeting directly with the clients or coming up with the big ideas. She’s very very good at what she does, but she doesn’t have the skills to grow beyond that. And in her personal life, she wants to be more too. She wants her daughter to go to the best school in the city and have all the perks, like a trip to Paris. This is on purpose by the showrunners, they could have made her money struggles and life challenges about paying school fees at a simple school or for a simple trip to the mountains, this is a ridiculous dream, something that it won’t hurt her daughter to give up. She wants a raise, she wants respect, she wants more at work so she can give her daughter more. And yes, Sobhita and Arjun are messing with money and probably underpaying her. But they don’t owe her a promotion to partner, just as her daughter isn’t owed a trip to Paris. Shivani is just asking for a job and a chance and she has the innate talent that Natasha doesn’t.
In this odd world of the out of town, Sobhita moves within herself and reaches a decision on her own life. She floats around, not sure where she is going to be when she comes home or where she will go. She flashes back to how she first met and got together with Jim, going after him on purpose while he was engaged to another woman. And then she flashes back to meeting Arjun, somewhere around the same time, when he was a DJ at a party on her birthday and she was a shy girl who liked film music. And the episode reaches it’s emotional peak when he surprises her late at night at her hotel room, after his friend has almost died from a drug overdose, he still remembered to come by and wish her “happy birthday”. And she finally breaks down, crying in his arms as he tells her “I’ve got you”.