Any undiscerning viewer can easily be misled into believing that Amazon Prime Video’s Prime Original series Four More Shots Please presents an honest depiction of the urban Indian women. That it needs to be commended for its refreshing, upbeat, and bold content conceived by some of the most progressive creative minds around. That it perfectly captures the complexities of relationships, work-life conflicts, ambitions and insecurities of working women in 21st century India.
But a closer examination of Rangita Pritish Nandy’s Four More Shots Please starring Sayani Gupta, Kirti Kulhari, Bani J, and Maanvi Gagroo as its four protagonists reveals a certain elitist mindset that alienates the majority. Also, the writers of the series seem to be obsessed with the use of cusswords, slangs, double entendres, and sexual innuendos. More so, the excesses are purposefully gratifying in nature. Certainly, there are far better ways of championing women rights.
Now, one of the major problem areas with Four More Shots Please is the characterisation of its four protagonists. Sayani Gupta, who plays a firebrand journalist, fantasizes about her male gynecologist, played with trademark suavity by Milind Soman. She keeps finding new excuses to visit his clinic and get her examined by him. Fed up with her repeated visits to his clinic, he advises her to bathe three times a day to help her overcome her obsession.
Kirti Kulhari plays a divorced single mother who can’t stop cursing the woman his ex-husband (played by Neil Bhoopalam) is currently dating. Bani J is a bisexual fitness trainer who has a strong crush on a leading Bollywood actress (played by Lisa Ray) she keeps encountering at her gym. And finally Maanvi Gagroo plays the part of a plus-size virgin girl with a mother obsessed with the idea of getting her daughter lose her extra flab. But what is really wrong with these characterisations?
Well, these four women characters are certainly not impossible to relate with. But, sadly, the manner in which these characters are written and portrayed, they automatically come across as self-pitying caricatures. At every possible juncture they choose to crib instead of embracing life. On the contrary, the male characters around them are relatively cool about their lives, including the bartender character, delectably essayed by Prateik Babbar.
But every cloud has a silver lining. Four More Shots Please should be appreciated for trying to tell us tales which revolve around women and their troubles. Yes, it is a half-baked attempt and there is a lot of exaggeration on offer, perhaps for the sake of grabbing eyeballs, but it cannot be denied that today, more than ever, there is a great need for new age women-centric content that breaks free from the monotony of saas bahu sagas that have kept our imagination tied down for almost two decades.
Four More Shots Please can certainly prove to be the first step towards the kind of women-oriented content that can set the ball rolling for some serious discourse around gender equality and the role of women in the 21st century India. But, first and foremost, one needs to get rid of frivolity and start thinking in terms of society’s real problems around the gender divide.