Netflix Taj Mahal 1989 Review: Good Performances Can’t Rescue this Netflix Hoax

Netflix Taj Mahal 1989 Review: Good Performances Can’t Rescue this Netflix Hoax

Netflix Taj Mahal 1989 Review: This Netflix film is a huge disappointment

  • Movie Name Taj Mahal 1989 (Netflix , 7 Episodes)
  • Director Pushpendra Nath Misra
  • Actor Neeraj Kabi, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Danish Husain, Sheeba Chadha
  • Rating
  • Rating 2/5 Stars

Rating: **(2 stars)

 As  a 40-plus couple  trapped in a stagnant  marriage, the redoubtable Geetanjali Kulkarni and Neeraj Kabi  are effective performers trapped in a pretentious retro-sociopolitical  drama where every character speaks  as  though reading  from a teleprinter… Oh, I forgot! There  were  no  teleprinters  in 1989 ( specially not in Lucknow where tehzeeb demanded  love confessions in hand-written letters). But then,  there was no Tinder either. And yet the  in-house rebel-lover Angad (Anud Singh Dhaka, effective) turns to the camera  and  tells us, “This is  the time of  face-to-face  courtship, no Tinder, make do with whatever you get.”

So wait. If this is 1989, why is this enterprising spirit talking of Tinder? On what level of artistic expression, does this  standard of pseudo-intellectualism make sense?  Characters routinely turn to the camera to talk to us, thereby creating an annoying distraction, something like Brecht meets Balajee?

Netflix Taj Mahal 1989 Review

The  amalgamation of nostalgia and socio-political relevance is so self-conscious, I felt embarrassed  for the wonderful actors, all struggling to remain relevant and  unselfconscious in a climate  of gathering  indiscretions.  Till the end when the intellectual poseur Akhtar Baig (Neeraj Kabi) takes his disgruntled wife Sarita (Geetanjali Kulkrani) on  a much-delayed honeymoon to Agra, I was  trying to  decode  the  significance  of  the  series,  beyond  its  rather anaemic attempts to recreate  Lucknow in 1989 with  nothing more  than the most basic tools of  periodicity.

Making it worse is the abject absence of any cohesion in the story-telling. Plodding through this lumbering homage to a Lucknow that’s no more, we meet another couple, Sudhakar (Danish Hussain) and Mumtaz (Sheeba Chadha) both played by very fine actors saddled with dialogues that could be Whatsapp forwards shared between two middle-aged movie buffs who have watched V Shantaram’s Pinjra too many times, if only the digital era existed back then.

The series also cuts intermittently to campus politics in Lucknow where Angad and his roommate Dharam (Paras Priyadarshan) lock horns on ideological grounds. Dharam gets a gun and loses his  girl. A rich Sardarjee student  pretends to be a Communist to impress the  girl Mamata he  loves.  Mamata  has  the hots for Angad who  drawls, ‘Aap mere saath   flirt kar rahin hain?’ All the students  behave  like  junior artistes  from Mani Ratnam’s Yuva uncertain  of their roles.

There is plenty  of  raunchy  courtships thrown in to show us how “cool”  the Lucknow students were  even before  the cool school was invented.Sex, ahem, is discussed over chai and  cutlets in  the canteen and Shakespeare  is  mauled in  stage rehearsals where an  anglicized  bloke is mercilessly  satirized because  ….well, speaking English in just not cool  in the  simmering but  bland cauldron of sex, politics, friendship marriage and compatibility that writer-director Pushpendra Nath Misra has slapped together with the self-confidence of a conjuring artiste who knows the rabbit won’t desert  the hat.

Whenever the camera loses interest  in the  characters it focuses on inanimate  objects like  a cake  or a water-heating rod.

Why Lucknow in 1989, you ask? Why this series in the first place? 

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