WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
After a disastrous setup by their families, two teens strike up a tentative friendship at their summer programme - but deeper feelings aren't far behind.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
For as long as I can remember, I've been obsessed with Bollywood movies. I grew up in an Indian household, and I could hear my dad blasting Zee TV from the other end of the house - he has since bought a soundbar to fully immerse himself in the Indian Idol experience. I've taken my love for Indian movies and series to Netflix though, pleasantly surprised by shows like Indian Matchmaking and A Suitable Boy. But Mismatched is by far my favourite new series on the streaming service.
Based on Sandhya Menon's book, When Dimple met Rishi, the coming-of-age series sees Dimple (Prajakta Koli) go off to college in Jaipur to follow her passion of coding and dreams of creating an app that will change her world. She meets Rishi, who joined the same course as her for the sole purpose of meeting his soulmate. Little does Dimple (who goes by the name DimpleNoDamsel, which says it all) know the only reason her mom let her leave home was because she set her up with Rishi. Rishi is more open to an arranged marriage, feeling he'll only find love by following his grandparents' example and marrying young.
Despite the way the premise sounds, and Rishi's very misguided outlook on life and love, Mismatched is a pretty progressive series. I say that having watched Indian Matchmaking, where a controlling mother and particular problematic cultural norms were made to seem laughable – and acceptable. The characters in Mismatched, though are coding and creating apps, influenced by the way they navigate their personal lives.
Dimple and Rishi's love story is a modern one that takes centre stage, but their friends have their own character arcs too. Namrata (Devyani Shorey) is figuring out how to tell her parents she's gay, Celina (Muskkaan Jaferi) is hiding the fact that she doesn't really come from as wealthy a family as the others, and Anmol (Taaruk Raina) – the western equivalent of the quarterback – is just a jerk. After drinking and driving and ending up in a car accident, he struggles to adjust to life, now in a wheelchair. But he's still the popular kid, he's still an asshole, and it was good to see that the series didn't shy away from showing that.
Each episode – which is only 30 minutes long, making the six-part series the perfect binge-watch – focuses on one of the characters, so you get to learn more about them, as Dimple and Rishi's love story runs throughout. By the end of the series, I was hoping for a second season to see what's in store for all of them, and though I found myself rejecting the idea of Dimple and Rishi at the start, in no small part due to their very setup, by the end, I was rooting for them.
I think much of the show's success comes from these very flawed, but real characters, who win your heart over. Dimple is determined, stubborn, selfish and sometimes, even rude, but you can't help but forgive her when she lets her vulnerabilities come through. Rishi, on the other hand, is kind, sweet and soft. He comes into Dimple's life and supports and loves her from afar until she's ready to let him in. Who wouldn't fall in love with him? His naivety when it comes to love aside, of course – though even that is somewhat endearing.
So yes, if you swoon at characters who completely embody Prince Charming, if you're a sucker for first kisses, and like Rishi – and me – you know your Bollywood movies, you'll get Shubham Kulkarni's perfect and succinct review for Koimoi saying Mismatched is "Main Hoon Na for millennials".
Only, Rishi doesn't hop off a train, wind blowing in his hair – upon his introduction, he gets an iced coffee to the face. And Dimple doesn't suddenly hear violins playing when she falls in love with Rishi – no, theirs is a slow, very real love story, one I hope we're going to get to see more of.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: