Amazon Prime Video’s new anthology series Modern Love: Mumbai premiered on the streaming platform on May 13. The series features six stories of love all set in Mumbai, among which is Baai, which stars Pratik Gandhi, Ranveer Brar, and Tanuja. The film focusses on a love story between a gay couple and how the protagonist has hid his sexuality from his grandmother. However, the episode–which is normally the second of six–is curiously missing from the version of Modern Love: Mumbai available In the UAE. Many viewers have reported this absence with some speculating it may be due to the nation’s strict stance against portrayal of LGBTQ romance. Also read: Modern Love Mumbai: Hansal Mehta says kiss between Pratik Gandhi and Ranveer Brar was deliberately awkward
Directed by Hansal Mehta, Baai focusses on the love story of Manzar (Pratik Gandhi) and Rajveer (Ranveer Brar) and how Manzar has hid his sexuality from his Baai (his grandmother, played by Tanuja). The episode/short film has been applauded for its sensitive portrayal of the LGBTQ community and gay romance. In India and in several other parts of the world, the episode is nestled between Raat Rani and Mumbai Dragon episodes. However, subscribers of Prime Video in the UAE say the show only has five episodes there with Baai not available to watch.
A few social media users posted over the last few days that the second episode of Modern Love: Mumbai was not available in UAE. One Twitter user even said that Made in Heaven–another show featuring a gay protagonist–was also unavailable in the country. Tagging Amazon AE and Prime Video, Twitter user @shwoooohadha wrote on May 14, “Any reason why Episode 2 of #ModernLoveMumbai is not available in UAE? You guys also took #MadeInHeaven away.” Amazon Help asked them to reach out to Prime Video team. When the user responded that they did not get any response, the official Amazon Help account responded, “We apologize for that, the content of Prime Video is regional and being determined not only by Amazon. We are trying our best to add new content.”
Other social media posts have also pointed out the absence of Baai in the UAE. A post on Reddit’s Bolly Blinds n Gossip subreddit by u/full_metal_028 stated, “I am not able to see the episode Baai in UAE. Have used multiple VPNs as well. My brother can access the 2nd episode from India using my account.” Many in the thread speculated if it was due to the show’s gay romance .
Hindustan Times was able to independently verify the omission with at least two Prime Video subscribers living in the UAE confirming this. Amir, an Indian expat living in Dubai, confirmed to Hindustan Times, “Yes, Baai is not available for streaming in UAE. In fact, Made in Heaven, which was earlier there, is also absent now.”
According to a press release announcement shared by Prime Video, Modern Love Mumbai was to “globally premiere on May 13, 2022 in over 240 countries and territories.” However, it does not specify which territories these are and in what form or way the show is being streamed there. Prime Video did not immediately respond to our queries regarding this omission and whether it was deliberate or enforced by local authorities.
UAE has in the past banned films with gay romance themes. In 2020, the country prohibited the release of Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar-starrer Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan, which was billed as India’s first gay romantic comedy.
Curiously enough, recent Marvel film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness faced opposition in Saudi Arabia over a scene depicting a same-sex couple. However, a Variety report noted that it released in the UAE without hindrance. Similarly, the film Everything Everywhere All At Once was banned in several parts of the Middle East but not in the UAE. According to a Deadline report, in November 2021, the UAE had announced that it would do away with film censorship and instead introduce a 21+ rating. That makes Baai’s omission from Prime Video there even more puzzling. Also read: Modern Love Mumbai review: Dhruv Sehgal, Hansal Mehta’s beautiful stories are worth going through anything
Modern Love Mumbai is the Hindi adaptation of the famous US series Modern Love, which itself was based on New York Times’ famous Modern Love column. Apart from Baai, it features five other stories by five directors–Raat Rani (Shonali Bose), Mumbai Dragon (Vishal Bhardwaj), My Beautiful Wrinkles (Alankrita Shrivastava), I Love Thane (Dhruv Sehgal), and Cutting Chai (Nupur Asthana).