Language: Hindi, English ‘Their drama is never-ending,’ says a character and nothing encapsulates Rumi (Sonia Rathee) and Agastya’s (Sidharth Shukla) relationship much like that one throwaway dialogue. After two seasons of exploring Sameera (Harleen Sethi) and Veer’s (Vikram Massey) will-they-won’t-they relationship, season three of Alt Balaji’s Broken But Beautiful tells the story of possibly one of the most toxic relationships I’ve seen on screen. He is a theatre director with anger issues, who doesn’t think twice before cutting his actor’s hair because she doesn’t look ‘poor enough’, or wipes the lipstick off another just before she steps onto the stage. He believes he is a ‘stud’ and too intellectual for people to really understand him or his work. Oh, and he is also a chain-smoker and drinks cheap booze straight from the bottle because he is an ‘artist’.
She is a poor little rich girl, whose fancy father reminds her that she doesn’t always have to choose pink macaroons because there are also blue ones. She’s been in love with Ishaan (Ehan Bhat)all her life and that love, she believes is her identity. When she isn’t plotting to ‘get’ Ishaan, Rumi does very little. Until she finds her calling as an actress, that is. When Rumi’s and Agastya’s worlds collide, their chemistry is instant and of-the-charts intense. The first time they have sex, it’s bookended by her saying that she wants to throw up and her actually throwing up. Much like the ubiquitous brown cup of Wawa coffee on Mare of Easttown, alcohol of every kind is an integral part of Broken But Beautiful 3. Agastya drinks when he is sad and when he’s not. Getting drunk and throwing up on people, launching into rants or just making terrible choices is something that Rumi had aced. Her mother suggests she have wine at breakfast and Ishaan pours himself a drink first thing in the morning after a big showdown. As the season progresses, the toxicity between them gets amped up. He believes that she knows what she needs in her life while she manipulates everyone around her. Someone reminds Agastya that ‘girls like Rumi’ don’t end up with men like him so he decides to become more like Ishaan only to have her laugh in his face. It’s only when they are working together on the play does it seem like just maybe they fit together. But those moments are fleeting and mostly you want these two to stay miles away from each other. Broken But Beautiful Season 3 (Photo Credit – Facebook) The story and screenplay for this season is written by Shazia Malik and Sharifa Roy, who make some clichéd, some interesting and some downright questionable choices for their characters. Rumi is surrounded by a posse of backstabbing girlfriends because god forbid women ever support other women; Agastya’s friend and co-worker Farah (Taniya Kalra) is clearly attracted to women but this detail is treated very normally; and, Agastya in a bid to exorcise Rumi from his system and also maybe because he is an alcoholic, drinks her beer shampoo (!). Dialogues by Radhika Anand, who is also credited for the screenplay, has characters call each other ‘cunt’, ‘slut’ and ‘bitch’. And, when they are not spouting expletives, people with fake accents call each other ‘dude’ and ‘bro’ and their inner monologues have hashtags. #Cheugy Shukla, who is known for his work on shows like Balika Vadhu and Dil Se Dil Tak, makes his digital debut with Broken But Beautiful 3. The actor’s popularity of course, soared during his stint and subsequent win in the Bigg Boss house last year and the show’s writers have a dialogue referencing it. While he brings swagger and angst to this performance, it feels unreal probably because his character doesn’t have depth. Debutant Rathee is saddled with an incredibly unlikeable character and she delivers. But considering how superficial both characters are, I doubt I would have stuck through the 10-episode season if I didn’t have to write this piece. Like its first two seasons, Broken But Beautiful 3 too has beautiful original music by Amaal Mallik, Akhil Sachdeva, Vishal Mishra and Sandman. And one of the high points of this season is a short cameo by Sethi and Massey, who seem to have slipped back into their roles with ease. Unfortunately, this only served to remind me of how much better the first two seasons were, in terms of the storytelling. Each 30-minute episode this season is a play on the title of a much-loved Hollywood romance. There’s It Happened That Night, Love And All Other Drugs and Eternal Sunshine of the Helpless Mind among others. And, that seems to be the problem plaguing Broken But Beautiful 3. There’s an attempt to tell a modern story of love and longing but like Rumi says to Agastya on the first day of rehearsals, ‘soul nahin hai’.