The latest anthology on Netflix has complexly beautiful tales that come with a twist compulsorily- the best part of the film
Anthologies are rare. But in the recent times, we’ve had many of them. Not all are enjoyable. The stories in Ajeeb Daastaans are actually ajeeb, in a pleasant way. The common thread is the unpredictable twist, something that brings in the wow factor.
Watch the trailer here:
Four short stories explore the surprising ways in which unexpected catalysts inflame the uncomfortable emotions simmering under fractured relationships
Majnu by Shashank Khaitan stars Fatima Sana Shaikh, Jaideep Ahlawat, and Armaan Ralhan. Written by Khaitan himself, the story seems pretty straightforward- a love triangle. But there’s more to it than what meets the eye. With its extremely stylised production design, what you see may not be extravagantly exotic for the content, but definitely makes for a rich viewing. Hats off to also the costume and makeup team working in sync with camera and other visual technicalities. In terms of content, the story gives you doses of extramarital affair, gender preferences, choices of a woman, crime, betrayal- all packed in less than 30mins. It’s a powerful watch.
Khilauna by Raj Mehta starring Nushrratt Bharuccha and Abhishek Banerjee also evokes a wow factor, but of a totally different kind. Get ready to have goosebumps in this one written by Sumit Saxena. The main key of the plot is what you ‘may’ predict but you’ll be taken aback by the twist, more with how things shape up rather than who actually does it. It’s also surprising how the film carries vivacity along with an eeriness, quite unusual for a film. The class difference and the metaphor of a toy has been brilliantly used.
Geeli Pucchi by Neeraj Ghaywan has Konkona Sen Sharma and Aditi Rao Hydari in the lead. It’s written by Ghaywan and Sumit Saxena. The story is so interesting and strong that you feel it has potential to be converted into a stand alone full length feature film. Shades and layers are infused with so much ease that you just can’t stop marvelling the genius writing. The main narrative becomes the subplot which then becomes the main one and the plot move effortlessly, conveying so much in undertones. Complex human relationships and human psyche is what is at play here. A wonderful venture by the Masaan man.
Ankahi by Kayoze Irani is the apt justification of ‘last but not the least’. The film is written by Uzma Khan and Sumit Saxena. When you have Manav Kaul and Shefali Shah in such challenging roles, you know it’s a right choice made by the makers. They just can’t go wrong. If you are sensitive about human relationships, this one is sure to choke you. The sign language in the film conveys much more than what is intended. Marvellously. Right and wrong. Truth and lie. Want and desire. It is all painted like a mature poem here.
Every story leaves an impression. Although different, they are all connected through the complicated nature of relationships, where what seems wrong to the society has been given a flip side to breathe. The stories majorly work for two reasons- none of the stories walk on a singular line of action. There’s always something running parallel to the main line. Also, the actors have lifted the stories to a new height. It is here that you understand of what worth is an actor.
Fatima Sana Shaikh should definitely get more roles. She’s shown in the recent past that she’s indeed versatile. She performs with grit and power. Jaideep Ahlawat comes with both a surprise and a hard earned faith. The surprise is in his character. He nails it in a manner that you would not see any other actor playing this part. Armaan Ralhan also has a strong screen presence. He suits the role and brings in the surprise element.
Abhishek Banerjee owns every role he is in. Here also, he makes his mark. His body language is just so perfect that you believe he irons clothes at your residential crossroad. Nushrratt Bharuccha gives you a pleasant surprise. You wouldn’t believe it is the same actor who has appeared in casual roles so far. With this one, she across as a fierce tigress, a true performer. Inayat Verma, the little girl who you last saw in Ludo has also performed fantastically.
Hats off to Konkona Sen Sharma. What an act! Deserves standing ovation for sure. Body language, mannerisms, the way she speaks- it’s a role played with utmost perfection. Not a single flaw in how she plays the part. She is phenomenal. Aditi Rao Hydari also has shades and by being true to her character, she gives you enough chances to understand the story and absorb the nuances of it. The depth has been brought by the collaborative effort of both of them.
Coming now to Manav Kaul and Shefali Shah. They complement each other in a way that you feel they have been acting together since childhood. You praise them not because they emote in sign language majorly. But because they get across the vulnerabilities and also the strengths of the characters with fine grace. Two supremely talented actors make a simple story so profound and meaningful that you stay glued onto the screen even after the film has ended. Tota Roy Chowdhury also lends abel support to the film, something that makes the leads appears more delightful. A great job by him.
The songs appear in almost every film. And they suit the narrative brilliantly. The lyrics have been penned thoughtfully. The score also has no problem at all. Sets the mood, highlights important junctures, and gives the plots definition and meaning.
Cinematography although done by different people, right from the first film to the last one gives you a sense of one complete film. Pushkar Singh for Majnu, Jishnu Bhattacharjee for Khilauna, Siddharth Diwan for Geeli Pucchi, and Siddharth Vasani for Ankahi. A job well done, because you are transported to the worlds of the stories instantly. Also you notice thise little movements of the camera to highlight someone’s pain and happiness. You smile there. Production design (Parichit Paralkar for Majnu, Mukund Gupta for Khilauna, Kazvin Dangor for Geeli Pucchi, Aditya Kanwar and for Ankahi) is right on point.
Editing by Nitin Baid for all the films is just right. Kudos to the man for making the affair so charming. The length of the films is correct. The flow is maintained satisfactorily. Special mention must be given to him for how he managed to go back and forth in the limited time space. The thrill and suspense is achieved only through sharp work here.
Thanks to OTT that we can have content like this now. With impeccable acting and amazingly written content, this one would remain one of the best anthologies to come out so far. This one is a lesson to aspiring filmmakers on so many aspects of filmmaking. This is one great venture.