Ajeeb Daastaans is a Netflix India anthology of four Hindu-language short films with a common theme: interpersonal relationships. Yes, it casts a large net, but the emphasis is primarily on romantic love, whether genuine or convenient or simply used to obtain what one desires. And, as in many anthologies, some short stories are unavoidably better than others.
“Majnu,” directed by Shashank Kaitan, opens Ajeeb Daastaans. Lipakshi’s (Fatima Sana Shaikh) wedding day has arrived. Babloo (Jaideep Ahlawat), her new husband, tells her that their marriage is essentially a business deal for their fathers. Also, that he loves someone else and can never love her, and that only he is allowed to have another relationship. Babloo is the head of some lucrative criminal enterprise because he lives in a sprawling mansion, is casual with a 9mm, and is quick to break someone’s leg over minor infractions. As a result, Lipakshi lives alone in a golden cage. Three years later, Raj (Armaan Ralhan) arrives at the house, dressed dashingly and in slow motion, to be Babloo’s financial manager. Lipakshi, clearly sexually irritated, tries to seduce Raj at any opportunity, but he refuses. She’ll do anything to avenge her cruel and heartless husband, no matter how bold she is.
The next film is Raj Mehta’s “Khilauna.” Meenal (Nushrratt Bharucha) and her younger sister Binny (Inayat Verma). They have have no parents, no electricity, and few opportunities. Meenal serves as a maid during the day while Binny attends school. However, at night, the older sister enjoys a little something with Sushil (Abhishek Banerjee), a street vendor. The storey begins with the three of them in a police station. The rest is a rerun: Mr Agarwal (Maneesh Verma) is a local magistrate whose wife has just given birth. He hires Meenal as a nanny and housekeeper. He rules his little street corner territory, threatening Sushil. Also, he may or may not reactivate Meenal’s illegal electrical hookup in exchange for — well, you know. It’s as if you’re sitting on an atomic bomb, waiting for it to explode.
“Gili Pucchi,” directed by Neeraj Ghaywan. The story takes place in a factory where Bharti (Konkona Sen Sharma) is the only female employee. There isn’t even a women’s bathroom in this man’s world. She desires a spot in the company’s office, but her employer refuses to promote her despite her competence and qualifications. Priya (Aditi Rao Hydari) is hired for the work Bharti wants and she notices her across the shop floor. What is the reason for this? Priya comes from a well-to-do family. They would have become more than just friends if Priya wasn’t already married to a man who wants a child. Moreover, whose parents consider those of Bharti’s social strata to be markedly inferior. Who knows what they would think if they — or the husband — found out Priya was homosexual.
Finally, there’s Kayoze Irani’s “Ankahi,” which stars Shefali Shah as Natasha. She plays a woman who is desperately trying to keep her family together. She has a strained relationship with her overworked. Moreover, an often cruel husband Rohan (Tota Roy Chowdhury), who is distant from their adolescent daughter Samaira (Sara Arjun). He claims that he is too busy to learn sign language because she is going deaf. Samaira tells her mother that she’s worried that her inability to hear would make it impossible for others to love her. Did I note Natasha is in bed with Kabir in the first shot of the short? Now, that’s a twist!
We strongly suggest you STREAM IT! Even when their scope exceeds their grasp, Ajeeb Daastaans are thematically ambitious and thoughtfully conceived, so each segment deserves a chance.
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