It’s one thing to have people read your story — but to have it illustrated? For me, there is no higher praise. These following artists took my words and turned them into their own works of art.
Huge thanks to Grant Shaffer (https://www.instagram.com/nyseecomic/) for sharing these with me. And thank you, each and every one of you beautiful artists: Abigail, Adrien, Cecil, Fiona, Francisco, Dora, Junhan, Kayla, Maggie, Sarah, Sol, and Andrea. I’m just floored.
So you may recall that a little while back, a third artist had painted their take of my Modern Love essay. Now there’s a fourth — and all I can say is wow. I’ve always been jealous of artists, their ability to say so much through a single visual statement. This is by Rumi Hara (@rumi.hara – https://www.instagram.com/rumi.hara/). Wow. Thank you, Rumi!
Amazon Studios has adapted my Modern Love essay!!! (I feel three exclamation points are warranted for this bit of news.) It is episode 3 from Modern Love Mumbai, entitled “Mumbai Dragon.”
So of course I knew about the Modern Love series on Amazon Prime, but I didn’t know they have branched out to culturally specific versions of Modern Love. From Wikipedia:
In April 2022, Prime Video announced the Indian version of the series in three different languages — Modern Love Mumbai in Hindi, Modern Love Hyderabad in Telugu and Modern Love Chennai in Tamil. A Japanese version of the series, titled Modern Love Tokyo will premiere worldwide on October 21, 2022.
Can you guess which of these stills is my episode? If you guessed this one…
…you are absolutely correct!
So for those with Amazon Prime, which seems to be just about everyone I know, you can watch this episode whenever you wish (turn on the English subtitles!). I would recommend you either read or listen to the essay beforehand, so you can see all the changes that took place in the adaptation:
This was released almost three months ago — how come you are just posting this now? That’s because I wasn’t made aware of it until this past Friday! The Modern Love folks at the Times were waiting to tell the authors until the financials were worked out. They were indeed worked out, so ergo, I was notified. 🙂 Frankly, I’m glad I wasn’t aware of this until now, because if I had come across it when it came out, I would’ve been very much in the mold of, “Now wait a minute…this sounds a little too familiar…”
I just saw the episode, but where was your name in the credits? Yeah, that’s just the way it goes. If you look at the first Modern Love series, you’ll notice that only the episodes that hew very closely to the original essay give credit to the author. Mostly those were the stories that were super popular/went viral. Mine did not, so the writing team made many, many changes to tell their own tale. I knew this before watching, so I was prepared for it to be a very different story — but I was absolutely thrilled with the way it turned out! Much of my essay did make it in the episode, and the theme/spirit of my piece is totally there. The director of the episode, Vishal Bhardwaj, is a legendary filmmaker in India, so I lucked out big time. And the performances are top notch, too. There were three people in my essay — my mother, my wife Dawn, and myself. The same trio stars in the episode, modified — mom the cook, son the singer (!), and sagacious girlfriend.
Now that your essay has been turned into a podcast and a TV episode, what’s next? Isn’t it obvious? Broadway, of course! Somebody please write a musical, pronto…
Lots of people loved the series and this episode in particular — check them out.
https://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/2022/05/modern-love-mumbai-review-another.html “The third episode titled ‘Mumbai Dragon,’ directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, is perhaps the most interesting of the lot. Set against the backdrop of the Indian Chinese community, it tells the story of Sui, a single mother who overbearing love for her son gets threatened when he shares his portion of love with his girlfriend. The mother played by Yeo Yann Yann is easily the best thing about entire anthology.”
https://www.leisurebyte.com/modern-love-mumbai-review-warm-comfort/ “I perceived Mumbai Dragon as a story of how stubborn most Indians are when it comes to love. They want their children to marry someone from their community. More than the happiness of their children, what matters to them is their pride. Even though the ending is predictable, the delicious food, performances and tuneful music keep you going through the end.”
https://www.highonfilms.com/modern-love-mumbai-season-1-review/ “Vishal Bhardwaj is, to put it simply, eons ahead of anyone in the people in this anthology web series. His direction is so expressive, so vibrant, so lively, so dynamic that it’s unfair for everyone else. He brings out the best in Yeo Yann Yann, Meiyang Chang, Naseeruddin Shah, and Wamiqa Gabbi; giving them ample room to visualize their characters’ feelings with words and sometimes, without them.”
One last thing — this is an embarrassment of riches, but another artist on Instagram reached out to me with a third take on my essay this morning! Andrea can be found on Instagram and her website.
Much thanks to the great people at WBUR (where Modern Love the Podcast is made), especially Caitlin O’Keefe who was gracious and patient as I prattled on during our interview. Also thanks to WBGO for hosting me and providing crystal-clear communication between Newark and Boston. Huge thanks to Dan Jones and The New York Times for publishing my essay in the first place.
Lastly, thank you to my wife Dawn and my mother, who provided the fodder for my essay. 🙂
Happy Mother’s Day weekend! To begin the celebration early, check out the essay I wrote for the Modern Love section of The New York Times. It’s online now; the print version will appear in the Sunday paper.
Overfed on a Mother’s Affection
By SUNG J. WOO
My mother held out a Tupperware container of chicken thighs and drumsticks, roasted with kimchi, bell peppers, onions and scallions. It’s a great dish, one of my favorites.
“No,” I said.
My mother and I don’t fight often nowadays, because I’m 41 and she’s 72 and we lead separate lives. I see her once every two weeks. She makes me lunch, we shop at Costco, she makes me dinner, then she sends me off with grocery bags full of her cooking.
We’ve been on this schedule for the last eight years, since my father passed away. But on this evening, near the end of my visit to her senior apartment, I could tell we were going to argue.
“Just take it,” she said.
“It’s just one more.” There was an edge to her voice. “Why are you being difficult?”