1989 and early 1990s — a time when B-Tex, Rasna, Vespa and Luna were a part of everyday conversations. And for 80s and 90s kids, these are evocative terms laced with bittersweet memories. It is this feeling of nostalgia that the new Netflix series Taj Mahal 1989 tries to bring to the table.
Created by Pushpendra Nath Misra, the show attempts to throw light on the different phases of love — the college romance, the one when you feel like you know the person inside out, and lastly, where you feel stuck in a relationship. The first two episodes of the series feel a bit all over the place as we are introduced to a variety of characters who are somehow linked with each other. The only parts that worked for me where when the director focused on Akhtar Baig and Sarita, played by Neeraj Kabi and Geetanjali Kulkarni, respectively. Akhtar and Sarita are professors in Lucknow University. They have been together for 22 years and have a 12 year-old-son. Their romance bloomed in their youth, but it’s 1989, and they both feel somewhat suffocated in the marriage.
Akhtar is fond of poetry and recites Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s verse at the dinner table, while Sarita loves watching Bollywood masala movies. Clearly, they are as different as chalk and cheese. The differences that had once attracted them to each other, now seem to be driving them up the wall. The writing here is clear as the day and the performances well realised by the talented duo of Kabi and Kulkarni. But the show falls apart when the writer directs the gaze to the younger couples. The lines and idealism of youth seem forced, and the screenplay loses its simplicity in trying to be something bigger than itself. At least that is what it looks like till now.
Taj Mahal 1989 is currently streaming on Netflix.
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