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Entertainment Review: Half Love Half Arranged

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Based on a novel by Ishita Peerbhoy, this Amazon miniTV show is about a woman’s search for The One. Riya (Maanvi GAmazon miniTVagroo) is the kind of over-planning OCD-afflicted woman who has a flow chart marking every milestone that she has to reach by a particular age.
After achieving her goal of becoming a sought-after gynaecologist, she is sure her boyfriend will propose over dinner on her 30th birthday. But the guy (Simarpreet Singh– also director of the show), tells her she is too overbearing for him, and breaks up.
Since she had planned on marrying by 30, has told the ex that she will get hitched before him and has no option immediately available, she tells her parents (Supriya Shukla-Amit Singh Thakur) to arrange a match for her. It is convenient to have an aunt (Grusha Kapoor) at home, who is a matchmaker.
While the men she meets– amazingly, all presentable– do not work out for some reason, she friendzones a colleague Dr Sandeep (Kashish Saluja), who is wearing his heart on his sleeve for her, because “feeling nahin aati” with him.
She still has residual feelings for school buddy Arf (Pulkit Makol), but the serial dater is obviously not right for her.  A chance meeting Jogi (Karan Wahi) ignites the spark over many coffee and chaat dates, but there is something holding him back.
Unlike other shows about looking for love, Riya is not faced with a drought of handsome men, but a problem of plenty. As any young woman would testify, 30-plus eligible men willing to obey their “mummies” and go for arranged marriages either do not exist or are total losers.  (A sensible woman would worry about her man turning out to be a Mamma’s boy and having a domineering mother-in-law).
The choice of not getting married at all is not even considered, and there is the typical Indian pressure to adjust! Her best friend (Shruti Jolly) even gently points out that she is overweight. Riya is committed to her work too, and running from a date because a patient has done into labour is a professional hazard.
Simarpreet Singh portrays the contemporary urban family with humour without turning the nagging mother and put upon father as caricatures. They are both pushy but also supportive of Riya.  Her younger sister (Bhavya Grover) going through her own teen drama is a hoot.  The scene in which she silently mimes one of her mother’s regular rants is hilarious.
Half Love Half Arranged works because it is relatable. Riya is not perfect or super glamorous, but dresses in trendy outfits and can hold a conversation with her many dates. Unlike the recent film Thank You For Coming, Maanvi Gagroo does not play Riya as desperate or pitiable. The show does not end with the mandatory ‘Happily Ever After’ but at a romantic cliffhanger. It will take another season for Riya to figure out her life.
Half Love Half Arranged
Directed by Simarpreet Singh
Cast: Maanvi Gaagroo, Karan Wahi and others
On Amazon miniTV
Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best-known entertainment journalists. A National Award-winning fim critic and author of several books on film and theatre. She tweets at @deepagahlot

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