Anjana, Damini, Siddhi and Umang are back in their designer dresses and excessive make-up for a night out at a local dive bar.
The first season of this girls-in-the-city show ended with the BFFs breaking up with each other. The new season of Four More Shots Please! opens four months later with the quartet reuniting on the banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. The reconciliation happens fairly quickly, but the rest of the season swings from one emotionally charged event to the other.
They still dress up to the hilt to sit in a junkyard at the back of Truck Bar and share matters of the heart. The 10 episodes swing from fights to making out, from hook-ups to break-ups, from taking chances to epiphanies. There’s high drama at every corner – a lot of it predictable – an occasional laugh and several soppy moments.
Creator Rangita Pritish Nandy and writer Devika Bhagat weave a number of trending subjects into the plot, from sexism at the workplace, to issues of sexuality, body image, right-wing fanaticism, freedom of expression, political oppression, social media trolls, parenthood and infidelity.
The second edition is certainly grander, with shoots in Turkey and Udaipur apart from the Mumbai home-base. Director Nupur Asthana’s stamp on this season is palpable. The scenes flow more smoothly and the main cast takes things up a notch.
The dialogue (by Ishita Moitra) is patchy, and sometimes truly cringe-worthy such as when Samara (Lisa Ray) tells Umang (Bani J), “You are the pranayam to my surya namaskar. The bicep curl to my lunge. The warm up to my marathon.”
The show suffers in the simple things – make-up, lighting, costumes (overdone) and sets. If the first season established the dynamics and tenuous relationships with humour and sartorial overload, this time the laughs are fewer. Greater emphasis is placed on the messaging, theatrics, and wardrobes. What do a fitness trainer, an out-of-work journalist, a lawyer and an heiress have in common? Endless access to fashion, because these girls never repeat their clothes.
Maanvi Gagroo continues to be the most watchable and endearing of the foursome. As a ditzy young woman discovering herself with ease, her comic timing is spot on. However, Siddhi Patel might be dazed and confused but for her to get her groove as a stand-up comic is too obviously influenced by The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.
Anjana’s struggles with life goals gives Kirti Kulhari an opportunity to show her acting chops and she gently conveys Anjana’s conflict. Bani J grew on me in this season, truly immersing herself into Umang as she comes to terms with her true identity. Although Damini has become somewhat erratic, Sayani Gupta kept the character grounded.
As Varun, Neil Bhoopalam shines in a scene of drunkenness. Besides a couple of guest appearances, Milind Soman, Lisa Ray, Simone Singh and Prateik reprise their parts.
As you watch these flawed women figuring out their lives out, you realise that not only has season two skillfully developed the relationships onscreen, it has also cemented the audience’s familiarity with, and affection for, these characters.