A movie about a dysfunctional marriage is usually quite an intense ride, replete with regrets and meltdowns. But the Netflix series Decoupled deals with the subject with a generous dollop of humour. It helps that the story begins at a point where the couple has decided to split amicably, which means a major part of the silence, denial and anger is perhaps already over by the time we enter the lives of Arya Iyer (R Madhavan) and Shruti Sharma Iyer (Surveen Chawla).
Decoupled is the story of Arya, a successful pulp fiction writer and his startup-founder wife Shruti, who are standing at the precipice of divorce. But it is more importantly the story of the world they inhabit - the upper-class housing societies of Gurgaon, highbrow art exhibitions, humanitarian initiatives which are dubbed by Arya as the trauma industry and a world cut off from the rigmarole of banal middle-class existence.
Madhavan's Arya is in some sense the alter ego of Manu Joseph, the creator of the series and you will know that if you have been reading Joseph for some time. Arya is not someone you want to spend an evening with; he is full of himself. He thinks he knows it all and is highly superficial when it comes to love and emotions. But he is also someone who is trying to resist the imposition of a new-age morality, as seen in today's Twitterverse.
Madhavan also lends the character a great deal of himself and owns it completely. Chawla plays to perfection the wife who wants to keep her home a safe space for her daughter but does not want to do it at the cost of her own peace of mind. Even characters like Shruti's parents leave their mark with their stray observations. There is also writer Chetan Bhagat, who plays himself quite sportingly.
The show does not bother itself with being politically correct. Quite contrarily, its characters bring forth the candour that is visible only when the Internet is turned off. Joseph uses the setup of a dysfunctional marriage as a framework to pass a side commentary on the times we live in.
On one hand, he is unsparing about the cancel culture and virtue-signalling that are all pervasive and on the other, he also rakes up the issue of class conflict. What is good about Decoupled that its characters do not even give a damn if you judge them. Some of this humour is self-deprecating as well when Arya says,
"Writers are interesting. They do not know much about anything to be boring." He calls marriage a cage, his friend reminds him that it is a cage in a deep, dark, dangerous forest. "You can escape the cage. But can you survive," he asks.
Director: Hardik Mehta