Mini Mathur and Cyrus Sahukar team up for a show on urban relationships
MTV alumni Mini Mathur and Cyrus Sahukar team up for Mind the Malhotras, a show about marriage
We are in a happy marriage, but are constantly living under fear," says Mini Mathur, as she throws a glance at Cyrus Sahukar, who is sitting across her. "We feel that if we don't work on our relationship, we might end up like our friends, who are divorced. And so, we seek therapy." Mathur is talking about Amazon Prime Video's new original, Mind the Malhotras, adapted from the Israeli show La Familia, releasing this Friday. She and Sahukar play the onscreen couple, Shefali and Rishabh Malhotra, who have three kids — twin girls and a boy.
Directed by Sahil Sangha and Ajay Bhuyan, each episode deals with a different kind of issue that the Malhotras put in front of their therapist — from sex-life problems to Rishabh's annoying mother to dealing with the kids. "It's written in a smart way, and talks of all the pillars of a relationship. What I like about our characters, is that they are regular people. They have all the colourful selfishness, niceness, and weirdness of normal human beings," explains Sahukar.
We are chatting with the two on a hot afternoon at the chic Soho House in Juhu over tea and avocado toast, and it's easy to see their camaraderie. It's VJ/presenter/emcee Mathur's first outing as an actor, and she has long-time friend Sahukar along for the ride. "We came to Mumbai on the same flight decades ago, when we both got a job at MTV. I have known Cyrus since his 17th birthday, so when I heard he was going to play my husband, I had to say yes. When we tell each other, do it this way, there is no malicious intent. It's about making it better for each other."
Sahukar is no stranger to comedy, especially if you remember his avatar as Semi Girebaal. He, thus, became a perfect fit for Rishabh, who he describes as the good guy. "He doesn't really get his family, but he wants to. He wants to do the right thing. Mini was a perfect Shefali, because she is a doer in real life, and in the show as well. If you can marry character to a personality like in her case, there's nothing greater than that," he says. Mathur adds, "It was so good to have him around. One day, someone shouted loudly before a shot, and I was flustered. I asked him 'how do I get back to being in a 'funny' mood now? He wasn't even bothered! I had to step out, breathe and come back."
The show also offers a funny take on modern marriages. "When the therapist tells them to talk, they figure that they have very little to talk about," says Mathur. "It's like 'I like you, but I have nothing to say'. I don't think it's even about marriage, it's about every relationship. It's the anxiety a couple is faced with, when a TV series they have been watching together, ends," says Sahukar with a deadpan face, as we all crack up.
Ask them what they brought to the show from their own personal experiences, given that Mathur has been married for 21 years and Sahukar has been in a serious relationship for six years, Mathur says, "One of the reasons I jumped at the idea of playing Shefali was because she is so relatable. I asked the makers 'have you put a CCTV in my house?' We did extensive readings of the characters and we have actually put our own filters there. I have said 'I don't think Shefali will react like this'. We are not exactly the same people, but we tried to make it more real and 3D."
But is the show going to make sense to a society, which is constantly getting put off by the idea of love and marriage? In a cynical world, it could be hard selling a story of two people trying to work it out. Mathur is a firm believer in marriage, and says, "I feel there is a merit in love, and that's why the show is so special. Nobody is made for each other, but it's constant understanding. It's not easy, and I have seen people who are lonely, and that's no fun. It's always nice to be in a symbiotic relationship."
Sahukar immediately interrupts, "Of course, it's going to be difficult. You can't even like yourself all the time. How will you like someone else for 50 years?" In the end, all they want is for the show to find resonance with the audience. As Sahukar sums it up, "It's been a lovely experience trying to get it out — like life actually, sometimes it's down, sometimes it's up, and sometimes you get it right!"
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