‘Modern Love Hyderabad’ to reflect the multicultural, multilingual fabric of the city

Revathy and Nithya Menen in one of the stories of ‘Modern Love Hyderabad’. The anthology also stars Ritu Varma, Suhasini Maniratnam, Malvika Nair, Aadhi Pinisetty and several others

Revathy and Nithya Menen in one of the stories of ‘Modern Love Hyderabad’. The anthology also stars Ritu Varma, Suhasini Maniratnam, Malvika Nair, Aadhi Pinisetty and several others | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Hyderabad is the hero of the six stories of the anthology Modern Love Hyderabad, which will stream on Amazon Prime Video from July 8, believes producer Elahe Hiptoola. She and her core team pored over 1500 stories of Modern Love, the well-known column of the New York Times. “It was a herculean task. We chose stories that we felt could not be set in any other city. The stories explore love between couples, grandmother and grandson, father and daughter, and so on.”

Producer Elahe Hiptoola

Producer Elahe Hiptoola | Photo Credit: K V S GIRI

The Hyderabad anthology comes on the heels of Modern Love Mumbai. While the showrunner Nagesh Kukunoor has directed three stories, directors Venkatesh Maha, Uday Gurrala and Devika Bahudhanam have helmed the other stories. 

Kukunoor became the face of indie cinema when he directed the breakthrough film Hyderabad Blues in 1998. Maha is recognised for his indie-spirited Telugu film Care of Kancharapalem and Gurrala for Mail: Kambalapally Kathalu. For the anthology, Elahe and Nagesh wanted like-minded filmmakers on board. 

Elahe points out similarities between Kukunoor, Maha and Gurrala: “Nagesh has had strong-willed female characters in several of his films such as Dor and Iqbal. To date, the mother and sister have more recall than the character of Iqbal. We found that Venkatesh Maha and Uday are also writer-directors who are gender sensitive and their method of storytelling is understated.” Devika has been a creative and executive producer for some of Kukunoor’s films and also worked with production house Arka Media during the making of Baahubali - The Beginning.

The six stories
My Unlikely Pandemic Dream Partner: Director Nagesh Kukunoor; starring Revathy and Nithya Menen.
Fuzzy, Purple and Full of Thorns: Directed by Kukunoor; starring Aadhi Pinisetty and Ritu Varma.
What Clown Wrote this Script! Directed by Uday Gurrala; starring Abijeet Duddala and Malvika Nair.
Why Did She Leave Me There? Directed by Kukunoor; starring Suhasini Maniratnam and Naresh Agastya.
About That Rustle in the Bushes: Directed by Devika Bahudhanam; stars Ulka Gupta and V K Naresh.
Finding your Penguin: Directed by Venkatesh Maha; starring Komalee Prasad.

The anthology stars Revathy, Suhasini Maniratnam, Nithya Menen, Aadhi Pinisetty, Ritu Varma, V K Naresh, Abijeet Duddala, Rag Mayur and Komala Prasad, among others. “The directors made the casting call going by what is necessary for the stories. We were aware that those who have watched American Modern Love would recall the performances of actors such as Anne Hathaway and Ed Sheeran,” Elahe adds. 

For Amazon Prime Video, this anthology marks its entry into Hyderabad. Both Elahe and Aparna Purohit, Head of India Originals for the platform, point out that the anthology’s language will represent the multicultural and multilingual fabric of Hyderabad with a mix of Telugu, English, Dakhni and Urdu. 

Aparna admits that it has taken a while for the digital platform to foray into Hyderabad, much after it explored Tamil anthologies Putham Pudhu Kaalai, Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyadha and the web series Suzhal: “Development takes time; we have been trying to cater to diverse viewers across the country and give them an immersive viewing experience. For Modern Love Hyderabad, we wanted the anthology to be in the hands of someone who loves the city. Elahe and Nagesh have ensured that the stories appear rooted in the city.” Further, Aparna points out that Elahe was among the first female producers when she entered film production in 1999 with Rockford.

Aparna Purohit and Elahe Hiptoola

Aparna Purohit and Elahe Hiptoola | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Healing, say Elahe and Aparna, is the theme of the anthology. Elahe says the theme gives the anthology a “cohesive tone” and shares that there are only happy endings: “Both Nagesh and I do not like the idea of overpowering villains.” That the pandemic necessitated the healing theme was also a natural progression.

A true blue Hyderabadi, Elahe has seen the city go through changes in the last two decades. The city is a cultural potpourri with the burgeoning Cyberabad alongside the quieter Secunderabad and the heritage-steeped Old City: “I processed the changes in the city slowly. Hyderabad has beautifully embraced change and owned it. The Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb prevails and many identify themselves as Hyderabadi rather than Hindu or Muslim.”

Aparna recalls spending nearly four months in the city as an executive producer on the sets of director Shyam Benegal’s Well Done Abba (2009) and taking a liking to the food, the people, and the language: “Much has changed in Hyderabad since then and the idea of love has also evolved,” she adds.

Modern Love Hyderabad was filmed from September to November 2021, with the cast and crew adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Elahe states that producing an anthology for a digital platform was not very different from producing a film. “Ultimately, it is like organising a baraat every day. No one will tell you that the food is good, but someone will complain namak kam tha (the salt was less). For cinema, my task begins with raising funds and ends with finding distributors. In this case, Prime Video gave me enough freedom and also gently reminded me of regulations when needed. For example, I did not know that we cannot shoot with kids beyond 7p.m. I had not followed such rules during the making of Rockford or Dhanak. This was a learning experience.”

Director, Nagesh Kukunoor

Director, Nagesh Kukunoor | Photo Credit: K Bhagya Prakash

Elahe is confident that the spirit of Hyderabad will make the anthology stand out: “A lot of things have changed in the city, but certain things remain untouched. This morning, we assembled near Charminar for a photoshoot and I went dressed in a salwar-kurta-dupatta because that works there. Hyderabad meri jaan (life), pehchaan (identity) aur shaan (pride) hai.”

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 1:58:04 pm |