Taj Mahal 1989 – Netflix’s latest series from India, written and directed by Pushphendra Nath Mishra (KumKetu) – opens six hours east of the white marble cemetery on Valentine’s Day, named in the state capital Uttar Pradesh.
This is a very different world, there is no internet and landline phones are not common, and this is happening at a time when people are afraid of losing their love, as its actors mentioned. But this is similar. Its group of characters who are unaware of incoming change – 1989 will be a big year worldwide – are naturally occupied with their own personal problems.
Among them are Lucknow University couples Akhtar (Neeraj Kapi) and Sarita Beg (Gitanjali Kulkarni) who teach philosophy and physics respectively. They are embroiled in a romantic and sexless marriage with their 12-year-old son. Akhtar admits that he never loved her, but it is clear that he did not try to listen to Sarita’s desires.
Their interests do not overlap – he loves poetry, while he admires whodunits and action films – and Akhtar hates to support Sarita, who has been frustrated for 22 years when they have known each other.
Akhtar has a junior growing internet in Angad (And Singh Dhaka), he is a philosophy student and he does odd sales jobs. Angad considers himself above topics such as love, although he is determined to accept sex. He shares this revelation with his friend Rashmi Malik (Anshul Souqan), a physics student who declares that “only women seek love” is a misconception.
He is dating Graham (Paras Priyadarshan) – who shares a flat with his younger brother Sudhir (Priyank Srivastav) and Angad – whose description is limited to Rashmi’s words: “good body and good looks”.
Bringing together two different and similar groups, Sudhakar Mishra (Danish Hussein), the maternal grandfather of Akhtar, and Akhtar’s long-lost friend, who in college was better than him in philosophy, but chose the tailor-made family business.
Akhtar accidentally runs into Sudhakar in a local poetry reading, where his obsession with the art form is shared by the latter’s wife, Mumtaz (Sheeba Sada). Leaving them with a boy older than him and a guitar-loving schoolgirl, Sunina Cork (Vasundhara Rajput). Sunita and Sudhir are part of the same music class at school.