Duration: 02 Hrs 20 Mins
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Neeraj Ghaywan, Kayoze Irani, Shashank Khaitan, Raj Mehta
Writer: Neeraj Ghaywan, Shashank Khaitan, Uzma Khan, Sumit Saxena
Producers: Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta, Somen Mishra, Rugved Mondkar, Sushant Tungare
Music: Tanuj Tiku
Cinematography: Jishnu Bhattacharjee, Pushkar Singh, Siddharth Vasani
Editing: Nitin Baid
Release Date: 16 April 2021 (India)
Released On: Netflix
Star Cast: Jaideep Ahlawat, Zia Ahmed, Sara Arjun, Abhishek Banerjee, Nushrat Bharucha, Ambarish Bobby, Shreedhar Dubey, Ajitesh Gupta, Aditi Rao Hydari, Amlesh Jaiswal, Rajeev Jha, Abhay Joshi, Anita Kanwal, Meenal Kapoor, Manav Kaul, Simran Nisha, Bachan Pachera, Neetu Pande, Arvind Pandey, Ashutosh Pandey, Gyan Prakash, Armaan Ralhan, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Mohammad Saad, Shefali Shah, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Aditya Sharma, Konkona Sen Sharma, Rakesh Sharma, Shabnam Vadhera, Parimal Vaghela, Inayat Verma, Maneesh Verma
Plot: Ajeeb Daastaans encapsulates four short films that analyze characters suffering from fractured relationships - it delves in deep, like a sharp knife, into each case study, observing the uncomfortable emotions that arise in these awful environments.
Review: Netflix’s ‘Ajeeb Daastaans’ understands the core of a toxic relationship - it understands privilege, jealousy and the void a relationship can bring.
We often idolize relationships as a beautiful production of the human race. But since cinema has changed with time, for which a lot of credit goes to the filmmaker who is ready to bring out the stories that needed to be shown that can be hard-heating or thought-provoking. And this recent release on Netflix, ‘Ajeeb Daastaans,’ is another addition to that!
Each story is as engaging as it can be, and each director seems to have a knack for assigning the right cast as well, with none of the characters feeling out of place - a usual problem that can occur in short films.
The first story focuses on Babloo (Jaideep Ahlawat), who had to forcefully marry a local politician’s daughter Leepakshi (Fatima Sana Shaik). The marriage is arranged, hence Babloo makes it clear on the first night that he does not expect love from her and does not wish to get involved in her. The condition makes Leepakshi seek love outside, which she finds in newly recruited employee Raj Kumar (Armaan Ralhan). This action of a woman seeking love causes the most common feeling of jealousy and brings out the violent consequences. The chaotic situation at last forms the strangely delightful story.
Directed and written by Shashank Khaitan, ‘Majnu’ plays with social standards, judgments, and presumptions from a married couple. However, ‘Majnu’ feels short in capturing its deepness. But, what holds the story the most is the performances of its talented cast such as Jaideep Ahlawat, who stands out, along with Fatima Sana Shaikh. In the supporting cast, Armaan Ralhan also delivers a good craft of acting.
The second short story ‘Khilauna’ focuses on an urban underclass young woman, Meenal (Nushrat Bharucha), who works as a maid to make ends meet, and her small sister, Binny (Inayat Verma).
Meenal shares a love-hate relationship with Sushil (Abhishek Banerjee), the local ironing guy, hate reserved for the day, love for the night. She takes a voluntary transfer from one family – trying for a child without success – to another, wealthier one with a child on the way. All because the man of the latter house can get her home an electricity connection. Khilauna plays with the contradictions of a divided society and how we are wired to think, but the stereotypical portrayal of a housekeeper is a mood killer.
Directed by Raj Mehta and written by Sumit Saxena, ‘Khilauna’ takes on the lower class's fight for their basic needs. The story speaks on modern-day reality, hence is thought-provoking and unsettling. Nushrat Bharucha is excellent in the role of Meenal, showcasing that she is beyond commercial cinema. The supporting cast of Inayat Verma and Abhishek Banerjee is equally good.
The third story ‘Geeli Pucchi’ follows the life of Bharti (Konkana Sen Sharma), the only woman working in an all-men factory. She is mistreated due to her class and social caste, as it is considered low. Bharti’s usually not-so-good life changes when a new employee and upper-class girl Priya Sharma (Aditi Rao Hydari) joins the factory. While the two are initially unalike, in their male-centric place of work they stay cooperative and talk about the fear and struggles of their lives.
The short story directed by Neeraj Ghaywan and co-written by Sumit Saxena has successfully exhibited a narrative of social class, physicality, and femininity. It tackles deep into the insides of social prejudice - some of the hardships they endure are open and straightforward to behold, while others are more secretive and intimate.
In the role of Bharti, Konkona Sen Sharma is blazing. On the other hand, Aditi Rao Hydari perfectly displays her role with a perfect blend of quietness and innocence. Viewers can easily connect to their portrayals.
The film’s fourth story is about a married couple Natasha (Shefali shah) and Rohan (Tota Roy Chowdhury). Their teenage daughter is slowly losing her sense of hearing. While Natasha is a concerned mother, she starts and adapts the use of sign language. While her husband Rohan is not ready to give the situation time and wants a quick solution.
Their marriage is going through a bumpy stage, and she seeks solicitude in a deaf-mute photographer, Kabir (Manav Kaul), who is good at sign language. Their relation does not have sound, yet it syncs suitably.
Directed by Kayoze Irani and written by Uzma Khan and Sumit Saxena ‘Ankahee’ focuses on things that are beyond the standard way of communication. One of the creative elements displayed by Kayoze Irani is the way the lead protagonists convey themselves flawlessly in the absence of verbal conversation, which helps you grasp their happening. The story takes a brief look at matrimonial flaws with affinity.
Shefali Shah for her excellent performance deserves special attention, as well as Manav Kaul; their chemistry in the film is perfect.
Overall, ‘Ajeeb Daastaans’ takes on a story that is an unsettling reality we live in. With any anthology like this, the quality is always going to feel a bit hit or miss. The opening short in particular is pretty rough around the edges, while the slow burn feel of the third story could put some people off. However, each story carries a different critical message that will give viewers needed thinking. Despite its flaws, ‘Ajeeb Daastaans’ is an ontological treat and well worth your time!