Of all the things that little girls pine for when they’re little, a happily-ever-after takes pride of place. Plied as they are with soppy fairy tales like Cinderella, the only thing that fascinates them is the arrival of a handsome Prince Charming astride a white steed, who whisks them off to their very own La La Land. That is until they grow up. Money, ambition and a happening career take the place of their frivolous fantasies, and happily-ever-after is relegated to the back seat.
Not for our heroine in Imperfect, though.
Imperfect, The Zoom Studio’s latest original web series, is a quirky and funny telling of an imperfect woman’s imperfect life and imperfect dreams. It has been produced by Anand Tewari and Amritpal Bindra of Still and Still Media Collective, in association with Nikhil Gandhi and The Zoom Studios, the digital arm of The Times Network.
Isha Sanghvi (newcomer, Samridhi Dewan), the 24-year-old protagonist of Imperfect, still lives in the dreamy, fantasy world of her childhood, waiting for her knight in shining armour to whisk her off to Paris, and kiss her senseless in the shadow of the majestic Eiffel Tower.
In her dreamy world, Isha is the perfect girl, living the perfect life, with her perfect lover, in her perfect home, with a perfect job to boot. But in reality, she’s hilariously, pitifully dorky and imperfect. She’s gauche, messy, naïve and utterly, completely unsophisticated; yet, has her sights set firmly on finding herself a promised land of grownup sophistication.
Ever since she was ten, she’d been saving for her dream trip to Paris, with lover boy in tow. And everything is set to fall into place – it is the seventh anniversary of her relationship with Vishal, her boyfriend (Sayandeep Sengupta). The whole shebang is planned- the tickets to Paris, a surprise anniversary party and her proposal. Yes, she plans to propose to Vishal that night.
But just as her dream is about to come true, reality gate-crashes the party, determined to play party-pooper. Vishal breaks up with her in full view of the entire bunch of their friends. To add to her woes, she loses her job and her home, all in quick succession. And poor Isha is left with the realization that her perfect life is nowhere close to perfect. In fact, it is as imperfect as a round peg in a square hole on uneven ground.
In Isha’s Cinderella-esque world, she’s the poor little godforsaken heroine; while her evil stepmother is – not a person – it is her wretched imperfectness and her glum circumstances, compounded immeasurably by her gaucheness.
As Isha picks up the pieces of her shattered reality, her best friend, Shalini Agnihotri (Manka Kaur) harangues her back into the dating scene with the help of a new-age dating app, aptly called Cinder (another take on Cinderella). Isha lands herself a date with Aditya, the guy who was the resident hunk, way back in college. So, while Shalini’s husband Raj (Varun Tewari) takes potshots at Isha’s situation with super-hilarious puns and one-liners, Isha sets out to snare the hunk, and also ace an interview for a dream job. Obviously, she fails miserably at both.
Enter, fairy godmother, Simmy (Sushmita Mukherjee, making an impressive web debut). Simmy, aka Simarjeet Sabherwal, is a life coach, specialising in getting the lives of despondent losers back on track. Isha, out on a first date with Aditya, meets Simmy at the restaurant. Simmy gets her out of several sticky situations on the disastrous date, and hands over her calling card to Isha, because it’s clear to her that Isha needs help, and fast.
The rest of the story will unfold in the remaining episodes. It will be fun to watch how Simmy helps Isha make her imperfect life perfect.
On the surface, Imperfect is a simple enough coming-of-age tale, about a millennial discovering her true self – the kind that is all over the web in present times. While the happenings are entirely typical next-gen issues about love and life, Imperfect tells them anything but typically. It tells the tale in a simple and straightforward way, but infused with massive doses of warmth, wonder and wit; and therein lies its strength. It compels us to invest our emotions into Isha’s miserable life, leaving us sitting there, staring at our screens, smiling goofily and rooting for the glorious mess that is Isha and her imperfectness.
Imperfect is hilarious, joyful and optimistic, with exquisite dialogues and witty lines sewn into the details. It is chockfull of moments that make one laugh out loud, or cringe in shock at the shenanigans that Isha gets into. We fall for this guileless woman who is as artless, idealistic and starry-eyed as a teenaged girl stepping into womanhood; a bumbling unsophisticate, thrown into the big, bad, sophisticated world for the first time in her life. Isha is ardent, spontaneous and impulsive, and her joie de vivre is distinctly infectious.
Samridhi Dewan is tremendous as Isha Sanghvi. She’s quite a discovery – despite this being her first full-fledged show, she plays her character with aplomb and assuredness. She suffuses her Isha with an innocent charm that beguiles. Sushmita Mukherjee is entertaining as ever, perking up the proceedings with her distinctive brand of chutzpah. Manka Kaur is superb as Shalini Agnihotri, her no-nonsense sassiness being the perfect foil to Isha’s gawky silliness. Varun Tewari is adorable in the role of Raj Agnihotri, and he’s cornered the best puns so far. His Thai puns and Karunanidhi joke were hilarious, to say the least.
The writing is brilliant and commands attention. Imperfect is full of exquisite dialogue, dialogue that is refreshingly different, hilarious and captivatingly whimsical. Take a bow, Riddhi Kachhela and Tahira Nath. You two definitely deserve all the accolades coming your way. Likewise for the direction – it is spot-on and razor-sharp, leaving no scope for rough edges and blunt ends. Ruchi Joshi and Vidhi Gulati, the uber-talented director duo, have helmed the series with an assured hand, adding persuasive grace to the narrative.
Imperfect is a coming-of-age story like no other – intelligent, funny and heart-warmingly affecting. We can hardly wait to watch the next episode of this uproarious, new-age take on the age-old Cinderella story.
We, at IWMBuzz, declare Imperfect a must-watch, and rate it 4/5.
(Written by Rashmi Paharia)