Cast: Sayani Gupta, Kirti Kulhari, Bani J,Maanvi Gagroo
Director: Joyeeta Patpatia
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
The quartet of flawed and fragile but unwaveringly firm women of Four More Shots Please! are back with another season of the show, trying to find their way in life and love and enduring all the spills and slips that go with it. Their negotiations and adventures add up to another lively dose of drama, entertainment and humour.
Their struggles and triumphs, desires and disappointments, skirmishes and solidarities, assertions and compromises make for an eminently watchable season that thrives on a blend of a variety or moods. Starting on a sombre note, Four More Shots Please! Season 3, on Amazon Prime Video, is as much about heartbreak and euphoria, loss and grief as it is about the joys of friendship.
For the girls, the path to self-fulfilment, as in the previous two seasons, is strewn with impediments. Coming off major emotional setbacks, the foursome - idealistic journalist Damini Rizvi Roy (Sayani Gupta), ambitious lawyer Anjana Menon (Kirti Kulhari), fitness trainer Umang Singh (Bani J) and stand-up comic Siddhi Patel (Maanvi Gagroo) - have their hands full dealing with challenges that stretch them to snapping point.
The irrepressible girl gang confronts their desires and denials in the struggle to tide over the reverses that threaten to leave behind rattled nerves and deep scars. But having lost none of their spunk, they are determined to stick together and thrive. They soldier on even when things do not all too frequently go their way.
Damini, Anjana, Umang and Siddhi are obviously independent women with exist in a materially secure, even privileged, bubble, but the script does not measure them against unrealistically high expectations. They are ordinary beings. They fail, they falter, they fulminate, but they keep their wits about them even under emotional duress. That is what makes the four such a rounded, believable group of women.
The four have their friendship to fall back on when matters threaten to spiral out of control. They know the wages of mucking things up but are also adept at picking themselves up and marching on. So, is season 3 of Four More Shots Please!, then, simply more of what the first two seasons contained?
There may be a few elements in the show that aren't new but, overall, as the story of Anjana, Damini, Siddhi and Umang moves forward, it throws up enough surprises to keep us invested. These gals with the gall to keep going regardless of what life throws at them are a sight for sore eyes and a shot of vitamins for fatigued souls - the sort of characters that we need more of.
Creator Rangita Pritish Nandy, writer Devika Bhagat, dialogue writer Ishita Moitra and director Joyeeta Patpatia, the four key women behind the show, unlike the foursome on the screen, make no major mistakes. They tap the endless possibilities that are presented by the women toughing it out and holding their own in a world that is willing to give them no quarters at all.
It is not as if they are asking for any. The men in their lives aren't monsters but most of them are a part of the problems that beset the four friends. Anjana, who describes herself as "perfect friend and imperfect mother", has to reckon with her confused ex-husband Varun (Neil Bhoopalam) and her standoffish law firm colleague Shashank (Samir Kochhar), neither of whom make things easier for her.
Damini, still haunted by the trauma of a miscarriage, has to navigate the wild ups and downs in her relationship with Jeh (Prateik Babbar), the owner of Truck Bar, the girls' Central Perk, their favourite watering hole, where they go when the chips are down and they need to fortify themselves.
Shunted out of the media industry because of her unbending ways, Damini is roped in as an adviser by Dhananjay Deshmukh (Rohan Mehra), a young politician looking for an image facelift and a clean break from the divisive ideology of his party. The professional and the personal collide as Jeh begins to question Damini's new assignment.
Umang Singh, having walked away from the altar and left movie actress Samara in the lurch, struggles to move on from the resultant pangs of guilt and regret. She plans to open a fitness studio. She makes a new friend, baker Meher (Shilpa Shukla), and hires a yoga instructor, Sean (Jim Sarbh). Can either of them be a permanent salve for her wounded heart?
Siddhi Patel, dealing with the premature loss of her father and the prospect of her 48-year-old mother Sneha (Simone Singh) moving on with her life, lends Umang a helping hand when she needs money for her business. But Siddhi herself, weeks away from turning 25, faces more than her own share of challenges.
Four More Shots Please! S3 has an entire episode devoted to Holi festivities, with the customary excess of bhang, fun, frolic and gulaal. Add introspection and the pursuit of self-awareness to the blend and you have a season that touches upon much more than just the sensory and the emotional.
This season of Four More Shots Please! is a lively cocktail of themes that for the most part eschew generic conventions. Break-ups and patch-ups, endings and renewals, guilt and expiation and exultations and let-downs keep the show on the boil.
Even an episode set in a quaint Italian town, where the show strays into dreamy YRF and Dharma territory, and a climactic moment at a Mumbai airport departure gate, a site for what the character involved admits is "a cliched rom-com airport declaration", are delivered with a large helping of irony couched in hilarity.
What the makers of the show do very, very well is balance the four principal characters by farming out footage in a way that does not advantage anyone over the others. The principal actors, accustomed to the drill, are at their very best in this female-led rom-com that banks upon them completely.
While they are all equally good, Maanvi Gagroo, whose character comes of age in this season, has her nose just ahead of the rest of the cast. Sayani Gupta hits all the right notes as she delivers a performance that spans a spectrum of emotions and demands consistency of quality.
Kirti Kulhari and Bani J aren't far behind. And not to forget Simone Singh, who is epitome of poise and control. The returning men in the cast - Prateik Babbar, Neil Bhoopalam and Samir Kochhar - are steady all right, but Jim Sarbh and Sushant Singh, playing roles that one wishes were less constricted in terms of footage, are both splendid additions.
A review of Four Shots More Please! S3 cannot be complete without a line on the music score supervised by Mikey McCleary: pleasing, full of verve and never out of sync with the spirit of the show. The songs are an extension of the scenes: they supplement the spoken lines in ways that enhance their impact and illuminate the many moods of the narrative.
It is apparent that Four More Shots Please! has a lot of wind left in its sails. As Season 3 winds up with the girls making New Year resolutions, one is already hoping to see what life might have in store for them when they are a year or two older. If that isn't asking for more, nothing is.