Anjana (Kirti Kulhari) is a single mother who hasn’t had sex since the birth of her four-year-old daughter. Damini (Sayani Gupta) is a workaholic who prefers masturbation to sexual intercourse. Umang (Bani J) is bisexual and looking for adventure, while Siddhi (Maanvi Gagroo) is a virgin whose love life is closely scrutinised by her mother (Simone Singh). These are the main characters in Four More Shots Please!, Amazon Prime Video’s new original series that will be streamed from January 25.
The 10-episode series about four women in their twenties as they cope with love, sex and career is “unapologetic” and “front-footed”, director Anu Menon told Scroll.in. “It’s sexy, sassy, funny and has its own language,” she said. “This is a show about women and their sexuality but also much more than that.”
Menon’s credits include the Hindi films London Paris New York (2012), a romantic comedy starring Ali Zafar and Aditi Rao Hydari, and Waiting (2016), a sombre drama starring Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin.
The concept for Four More Shots Please! was developed by producer Rangita Pritish Nandy, who pitched the show to Amazon Studios and approached Menon to direct it. “The idea was to create a show about a bunch of friends who hang out and talk about their lives and support each other,” Menon said. “And, like a lot of us, they meet once a week and get drunk – so that’s how the concept came about.”
Menon was hooked when she first heard a draft of the script by writers Ishita Moitra and Devika Bhagat. “The opening scene sealed the deal for me because it was just like, wow, I’ve never seen something like this on screen,” she said. “On Indian screens, sex is done to women, you’re either objectified or it is always associated with something bad. But this is a show about women and their sexuality – about some who own their sexuality and some who come into their own. All these women are also juggling their careers alongside their personal lives. The script had the right mix and match of all these different facets.”
There was another reason Menon found the script compelling. “We always tell stories in the context of patriarchy – this is not that,” she said. “Here, these women are not fighting against men. Some part of their lives is about men and a large part is about themselves.”
Is the show the Indian version of the American romcom Sex and the City? “Yes, we’ve seen similar characters in shows like Friends or Sex and the City or How I Met Your Mother, but we have never seen ourselves,” Menon said. “This is a story from our point of view and there’s also an inherent Indianness to it. For instance, the fact that many of us are different when we are with our parents and when we are outside on our own.”
Menon also feels that we have “moved on” from the Sex and the City conversation. “The women in this show raise a lot of feminist questions: how different women view feminism, how it is to work with female bosses, how women view other women,” she said. “When one sees the show in its entirety, you’ll see that it is its own being. Sure it will remind you of something, but it is also about its own self.”
The series also features male characters, some of whom are played by Milind Soman, Neil Bhoopalam and Prateik. “Casting was a big part of the journey,” Menon said. “I think in total, we have some 120-odd characters in the show – four characters, their friends, their families and so on. The idea was to constantly make sure that at every turn you meet someone interesting.”
Menon feels that Four More Shots Please! has happened at the right time in her career and will help her “push the boundaries a lot more” when it comes to films. “I think it is a natural progression from one thing to another,” she said. “London, Paris, New York was my first film and the industry was in a very different place back then. Waiting brought me a lot of credibility – even now I get mails from people appreciating the film. If you see all my films, they’re all about characters and their journeys – whether the characters are four girls or two people waiting for their spouses in coma. Shooting this show was one of the best experiences of my career – it was so enjoyable and I’ve worked really hard.”