Maanvi Gagroo on Four More Shots Please! Season 2: Empowerment stems from agency
The actor, her co-star Sayani Gupta, producer Rangita Pritish Nandy, and director Nupur Asthana discuss the returning season of Four More Shots Please!, out on Amazon Prime
The second season of Four More Shots Please! was released on April 17. Streaming on Amazon Prime, the show, about a clique of four friends in Mumbai, picks up from the events of season 1. We see Damini, Anjana, Siddhi and Umang regroup and continue with their rocky urban lives. Narrative-wise, the beats remain the same, though there’s an evident emotional shift. More than last time, there’s a keener interest in the individual journey of its characters, as the girls come up against difficult life choices and turn to each other for solidarity and assurance.
“The baggage of a successful show is always more,” says creator and showrunner Rangita Pritish Nandy. “We knew there was a huge millennial audience out there that was invested in these characters. For us, the endeavour was to keep that love intact while delving deeper into the motivations of these girls.”
Besides Mumbai, the new season was filmed in Istanbul and Udaipur. Once again, the glossy visual design and expansive wardrobes have been praised — something Rangita argues does not undermine the show’s complexity. “Over the years, I’ve lived what most would call a privileged life,” says the Mumbai-based producer. “Often, I’m told that my life is all pretty and beautiful. This show was born of the idea that no matter how perfect things look, everyone has their own journey, and those journeys are full of little bombs ticking away every minute.”
Maanvi Gagroo, whose performance as an under-confident Gujarati girl has been lauded, echoes this sentiment. “If you remove all the fluff and pin these characters down to their basic personalities, you will see they are equally human and flawed,” she says. “They live their lives, make mistakes and then own those mistakes in their own stupid ways. When you show female characters who have the agency to choose, that’s what makes it empowering.”
In season 2, Siddhi (Maanvi) discovers her funny side and decides to take up standup comedy. Her emergence as a performer coincides with her sexual awakening — a confluence she blends into a charming comedy set about her life. “Until that point, Siddhi is still hesitant,” Maanvi points out. “It’s only when she is performing her last bit that she gains confidence and jumps into the waters. I love how beautifully the scene is written, and how powerful it is.”
On fans (including comedian Kunal Kamra) urging her to take on standup professionally, Maanvi insists it requires a different skill set. “As an actor playing a standup comic, everything is done for me. But to do it for real, I’ll have to write my own material and it has to be bloody funny. I don’t think I can do that yet.”
While things start looking up for Siddhi, Damani (Sayani Gupta) is put through the wringer. She’s recently been fired from the news website she founded and her public returning of the ‘Fearless Journalist Award’ has resulted in career roadblocks. When we catch up with her in season 2, she’s working on a book on a slain judge and struggling to have it published. There are also romantic tracks with Dr Warsi (Milind Sonam) and Jeh (Prateik Babbar), which finally come to a head.
“Damini is a complex person with a penchant for drama,” Sayani says. “She receives a lot of backlash for her book but sticks with it. Personally, there’s a lot of turbulence in her mind, and as always, her friends are there for her.”
The new episodes are directed by Nupur Asthana, replacing Anu Menon from season 1. Nupur is known for her work on the television shows Hip Hip Hurray and Mahi Way. She’s also directed the Bollywood films Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge and Bewakoofiyaan.
For her digital debut, Nupur wanted to highlight contemporary issues in a frank, non-preachy way. “Feminist issues can be discussed in any format,” she says. “It need not always be about the emancipation and empowerment of women in small-towns, important though their journeys are. For instance, if I’m telling the story of a lawyer in a corporate job, it will include the politics and sexism faced by her in that line of work. That’s all I’ve tried to show.”