Four More Shots Please: Shines in emotional moments, flutters in others

Perhaps the biggest flaw of any ‘women-centric’ (Indian) show is that they restrict empowerment to alcohol, cigarettes and sex. That was my problem with the first season of Four More Shots Please!. When I first saw the trailer of the second season, I was kinda relieved because it did promise more than just that, and the series delivers but doesn’t go too far.

Episode 1 begins four months after the end of Season 1, in Istanbul. The girls have fallen apart, but one phone call and they’re back together after a couple of sorries, which is very believable. Sometimes, we have certain friendships, in which just a smile can fix a lot. I’m not going to talk about the plot, episode wise, but not much changes in terms of plot and narrative in this season. The biggest improvement, however, is that Season 2 is bold enough to delve deeper into the issues in the lives of these four women.

Maanvi Gagroo’s Siddhi now wants to find her true calling (which is stand-up comedy), as she evolves from a young-adult to an adult; Sayani Gupta’s Damini is still juggling between Jeh (Prateik Babbar) and Warsi (Milind Soman) but here she’s writing an investigative novel; Kirti Kulhari’s Anjana and Bani J’s Umang are both dealing with different kinds of relationship problems as Anjana fights sexism in the work place (only initially). All these women are flawed. They’re all privileged South Mumbai girls, but at the end of the day, they’re woman who have their set of problems. Very unapologetically, director Nupur Asthana and writers Devika Bhagat and Ishita Moitra, tell you that this is the story they choose to tell, that this is the world these four women live in, which is very okay. Stories that come from a place of privilege need to be heard too, and that is one of the key emphasis of the show, especially via Siddhi’s character. In a particular scene, Siddhi’s mother, Sneha (Simone Singh) lashes out at her father and says, “Just because she’s privileged, she can’t have insecurities?” That is the very issue Siddhi’s character tackles.

The acting is top notch, but the writing doesn’t match up to their level. Bani J is the weakest link here, and yet, she’s strong enough to hold her own ground. As a bisexual woman, Bani plays her part well, even though she is a little stiff as an actor. I’ve always been a fan of Maanvi Gagroo. She plays Siddhi very flawlessly. While the other girls have great character arcs as well, it it Siddhi who’s been given most of the work, in terms of character development because she undergoes and entire personality change. Gagroo captures this process very naturally. She makes you see Siddhi beyond adjectives like cute and bubbly.

Like Gagroo, even Kirti Kulhari has a lot of lifting to do, because her Anjana is a total mess. She’s perhaps the most flawed character. As a lawyer, she only thinks straight, but once she’s out of her office, she can’t think at all. She makes personal decisions based on gut and almost always ends up in a mess. This is a character you don’t always like but Kulhari’s skill makes you love her, even root for her. You want Anjana to come out of the mess she’s in. You want her to not be caught, punished.

Sayani Gupta is Sayani Gupta. I don’t think she’s ever given a forgettable performance, even when she had the smallest role in Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos. Here she plays a fierce woman, Damini, who is writing a book on a Judge’s murder. No one wants to publish the book, obviously. She finds a way and comes out victorious, as she continues to juggle between the two men in her life. In a series about privileged problems, Damini’s “serious” and “political” problems could’ve looked fake, but Gupta makes sure they don’t. A lot of it could have to do with Gupta’s real life political beliefs, which she is vocal of. And at the end of the day, it shows in her performance.

Supporting actors come and go and almost none stay in your head for too long. Except four – Milind Soman, Prateik Babbar, Lisa Ray and Shibani Dandekar. The men, mostly because of how they look, Lisa Ray because of her terrible display of emotions and Shibani Dandekar because she deserves to be one of the main girls. I’ve never seen Dandekar give such a mature performance.

All said and done, the writing never soars. There are a couple of beautiful emotional moments, especially in the last two episodes, which work out great, but otherwise conversations remain restricted in bars, and don’t do much. If the writing of all the episodes was as good as that of the last two episodes (set in Udaipur), it would’ve been a fabulous show. Having said that, Four More Shots Please! isn’t a bad show, and it’s come a long way from the first season…

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