‘Decoupled’ is an English and Hindi-language comedy series on Netflix that revolves around Arya (R. Madhavan), a writer, and Shruti (Surveen Chawla), a startup founder, as they decide to end their marriage. The show explores how the couple comes to terms with their loveless marriage and navigates the tricky terrain of letting the world, and themselves, know that separation is inevitable.
The show immediately garnered a fanbase obsessed with Madhavan and Chawla’s breezy on-screen dynamic. Others appreciated its urban backdrop and focus on how marriage is perceived by different individuals. The natural humor in the series, coupled with its accurate representation of the English-speaking Indian public, has made many a fan question whether Arya and Shruti’s story borrows from real life. Let’s find out!
Is Decoupled a True Story?
No, ‘Decoupled’ is not based on a true story. However, its realism draws from creator Manu Joseph’s acute understanding of the intricacies of everyday relationships, director Hardik Mehta’s knowledge of the ins and outs of what looks natural on screen, and Madhavan and Chawla’s ability to effortlessly portray a couple falling out of love. Additionally, the director was keen on casting Madhavan, known primarily for his romantic roles, as one half of a separating couple since it would be a refreshing experience for the masses.
As the fictional plot of the show points out, divorce is not always about shouting matches, pools of tears, and vengeful schemes. Chawla explained, “This [Arya and Shruti] is a Gurgaon-based couple with a young daughter. My character [Shruti] is that one person in the show who brings sanity back and normalizes things in the midst of the sarcasm and the ego.” Thus, we see how the couple tries to rationalize their doomed circumstances whilst trying to protect their daughter, who is only able to see her parents as one unit.
Arya’s objective worldview combined with his misanthropic nature often gets him into trouble whilst Shruti’s easy charm wins people’s hearts and smooths over the most turbulent of situations. “But Hardik [Mehta] was very clear that we didn’t want to have a hate relationship between the people. [Mehta wanted] to bring in animosity and yet have the audience feel that they [Arya and Shruti] have pieces of love left,” Chawla added. Just like in real life, relationships on the show are complicated, messy, and hard to categorize.
Additionally, the fact that the show is in English (and only occasionally interspersed with Hindi) ensures a wider reach across diverse Indian cities that are united by their collective experience of modern life even as they are divided by their varied languages. “The show [‘Decoupled’] is in English, and we are not English-ising a Tamil or Hindi show,” opined Madhavan. “‘Decoupled’ is a modern story, and it will resonate with an urban elite, English-speaking audience,” added Chawla.
Arya, a South Indian living in Gurgaon, is well-versed with the highs and lows of urban life but often struggles with Hindi, just as Joseph himself does. “Arya is not an autobiographical character [though],” the writer clarified. Thus, Arya and Shruti’s dynamic, in terms of their language skills, opinions, and behaviors, come across as very natural and relatable even though their situation is not one that is commonly accepted by the masses. After all, how often do we get to see a married couple checking out their potential future dates at the gym? Thus, ‘Decoupled’ is a fictional story but certainly borrows heavily from reality.
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