Truth be told, I never made it past episode two of season one of Four More Shots Please! You know, I loved the idea of this Sex and the City-style series about four fabulous, flawed women in Mumbai.
I loved the sass and the verveof the actors playing them – Sayani Gupta, Kirti Kulhari, Maanvi Gagroo and Bani J.
But the narrative was too simplistic and on-the-nose.
It felt like director Anu Menon and writer Devika Bhagat were basically checking off boxes about feminism, friendship, sexual freedom.
There was this line about 2000 years of patriarchy and I just gave up.
So, it’s good to discover that Season 2 has a little more nuance and depth.
Also, it starts with a handy recap of Season 1, so those of us who skipped the first can follow the story easily.
Season 2 starts in Istanbul, makes a detour to a picturesque meditation retreat and ends in a big, blow-out destination wedding in Udaipur.
Clearly, the budgets were raised or the producers made good deals.
Whatever the case, it allows the story to open up visually, which is lovely in these lockdown times.
We travel vicariously with the characters.
But mostly, the 10 episodes play out in posh, spacious apartments, slick offices, hip restaurants, hotel rooms and of course the Truck Bar where the four ladies gather regularly to knock back the four more shots in the title.
Women take the lead, not just in front of the camera, but also behind it.
Devika Bhagat, who wrote Season 1 continues with Season 2.
But, the series has a new director, Nupur Asthana.
The series creator and co-producer is Rangita Pritish Nandy, the editor Jabeen Merchant, the dialogue is by Ishita Moitra and the cinematography by Neha Parti Matiyani.
I know it’s simplistic to equate gender with the quality of content – there’s terrific material about women directed by men.
But, what this female-led cast and crew gets exactly right is the camaraderie between the characters.
The relationship that these women have with each other is the centerpiece of the series.
Jobs, lovers, ex-spouses, parents, other friends come and go.
This friendship feels alive and emotionally authentic.
There are way too many group hugs and tediously repetitive partying sequences.
You might get restless, but you won’t doubt the solidity of the relationship these characters have with each other.
The actors have areal lived-in comfort.
And honestly, after decades of seeing male bonding celebrated onscreen – from Sholay to Dil Chahta Hai to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – it’s nice to see female friendship get screen space.
And yet, Four More Shots Please! doesn’t find the emotional or the artistic depth of a Made In Heaven because the material, the storytelling is content to float in shallow waters.
Conflicts keep popping up.
There’s an unwanted pregnancy, there’s a misogynistic boss, there’s a father simmering in his own hurt, there’s professional confusion – but everything is resolved with remarkable ease.
And the gloss stays in place no matter what the women are struggling with.
In one episode, Damini says that she is the writer of a flop book, living off her savings, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at her spacious and spotlessly clean apartment.
Everyone is always dressed like they’re in the middle of a fashion magazine shoot, which is a compliment to Aastha Sharma, credited as series fashion director.
But, the styling gets distracting, especially when the story is tackling serious issues.
The dialogue can also get clunky.
All the characters are constantly talking about getting closure.
Then there’s this one scene, where Jeh, who’s the owner of the Truck Bar and Damini are getting romantic.
She says something like why haven’t I done this before, and he says “tum hi jawaab do” and she says, “maybe kyunki tum nahi thhe”, and then, the camera circles around them and this song starts – ‘I have found my love’.
Honestly, my eyes rolled.
But what really exhausted me were the tasteful sex scenes, which are in every episode.
After all, how many beautiful lacy bras can you admire before it all looks the same? Somewhere around the 7th or 8th episode, it struck me that Four More Shots Please! is basically the streaming equivalent of Cosmopolitan magazine.
There’s sex, pretty people, fashion, travel and a few big-ticket topics – body shaming, same-sex love, family acceptance etc.
Some scenes make an impact.
Like Damini weeping uncontrollably after a break-up or Anjana pushing back against the boys’ club at her law firm.
But honestly, this series is not designed to hit hard.
Which isn’t such a bad thing because it includes Milind Soman and Prateik Babbar as eye candy.
In one scene, Milind, playing the world’s sexiest gynecologist, is giving Damini a foot massage.
Just the visual made me smile.
You can watch Four More Shots Please! on Amazon Prime Video.