Directors: Neeraj Ghaywan, Raj Mehta, Shashank Khaitan and Kayoze Irani
Writers: Neeraj Ghaywan, Sumit Saxena, Shashank Khaitan and Uzma Khan.
Edited by: Nitin Baid.
Cinematography: Jishnu Bhattacharjee, Pushkar Singh and Siddharth Vasani
Starring: Konkona Sensharma, Aditi Rao Hydari, Nushrratt Bharuccha, Abhishek Banerjee, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Jaideep Ahlawat, Shefali Shah and Manav Kaul
Streaming on: Netflix

Anthology movies are at present in style. The benefit of the format is that in most anthologies, there’s no less than one stand-out entry. Like Zoya Akhtar’s quick in Lust Stories or Dibakar Banerjee’s in Ghost Stories or Avinash Arun’s in Unpaused. In Ajeeb Daastaans, that movie is Neeraj Ghaywan’s Geeli Pucchi. Even although the quick doesn’t match the searing brilliance of these earlier ones, it’s the clear winner on this patchy four-film assortment.

Geeli Pucchi means moist kiss. The time period signifies the tenuous connection that two girls in a small city in North India make with one another. Bharti Mandal, performed by a terrific Konkona Sensharma, is the only lady engaged on a manufacturing facility ground. She’s good, formidable, robust. When a co-worker insults her, she retaliates. But not with a slap. Bharti punches him within the face, like a boxer in a hoop. We are instructed that she will get into fights each two or three months. We are additionally instructed that the manufacturing facility has no bathrooms for girls. But Bharti doesn’t complain – both about that or her poisonous co-worker. Her rage simmers simply beneath the floor. Bharti is feminine, Dalit and homosexual. Which means she is marginalized 3 times over. Her expertise and talent alone won’t ever be sufficient to get her forward.

Priya Sharma is the alternative. Neeraj emphasizes Aditi Rao Hydari’s porcelain magnificence and Aditi expertly nails Priya’s naivete, her fixed patter and her child-like eagerness to be mates with Bharti. As the upper-caste ‘Sharma ji ki bahu,’ Priya is allowed to work however not allowed to stroll to the manufacturing facility. Priya has privilege, which she is blissfully unaware of however she is in reality, extra trapped than Bharti. Briefly, the 2 discover heat and a hesitant intimacy – there’s a beautiful scene through which Bharti cooks hen for Priya who isn’t allowed non-vegetarian meals at her husband’s home. But finally, Bharti comes to comprehend, the chasm between them can’t be bridged.

Caste and gender have at all times performed a starring position in Neeraj’s cinema however right here he additionally throws in sexuality. He and author Sumit Saxena create a layered story which retains twisting with beautiful subtlety. Watch out for the small print – like how the phrase ‘chudail’ binds the 2 girls or the way in which Bharti’s face hardens when she understands that she’s going to at all times be an outsider or the excellent use of a metal tea mug. The background rating by Alokananda Dasgupta enhances the complicated feelings embedded within the story – loneliness, need, resentment, revenge. And the top will depart you each conflicted and happy.

Debutant director Kayoze Irani additionally tells a narrative a few tenuous connection. Ankahi is a few housewife, Natasha, struggling to maintain her life on monitor as her daughter loses her listening to. Her husband, who appears to be in denial, claims that he’s too busy to study signal language. As their bond is diminished to screaming matches and silences, Natasha finds refuge in friendship with Rohan, a hearing-impaired photographer. Their relationship performs out in fairly gardens, cafes, comedy golf equipment and his fantastically furnished condominium. The jagged edges listed below are solely within the feelings however Kayoze sustains a beautiful heat and Shefali Shah and Manav Kaul are fantastic. These two are such seasoned gamers that with minute expressions, they converse volumes. The ending jogged my memory of Jason Reitman’s 2009 movie Up within the Air.  I hope after watching this, extra administrators consider Manav as a romantic lead. Oodles of appeal are ready to be tapped.

The different two tales on this assortment – Majnu by Shashank Khaitan and Khilona by Raj Mehta – appear to have been conjured up in a parallel universe from Neeraj and Kayoze’s. The first is a purposefully pulpy story a few thuggish political chief who’s compelled, as he says, right into a ‘gatbandhan ki shaadi.’ He abandons his spouse on their wedding ceremony night time, so she proceeds to flirt outrageously with each man who crosses her path. At one level, she squeezes a bicep and suggestively asks, ‘gym jaate ho?’ There aren’t many actors who could make writing like this look good. Fatima Sana Shaikh fails as does the often fantastic Jaideep Ahlawat. This is the uncommon occasion when he appears to have dialed in his efficiency.

In KhilonaNushrratt Bharuccha provides her greatest shot at taking part in an alluring housemaid who’s making an attempt to maintain herself and her daughter. The story, additionally by Sumit Saxena, makes an attempt to touch upon class divisions or as somebody places it – Kothi wale aur katiya wale – however the plot is simply too amateurish to land.

The dastaan in Ajeeb Daastaans is plural, which took me again to Abbas Tyrewala’s movie Jhootha Hi Sahi through which characters stored describing issues as ajeebs. There are loads of ajeebs right here too. But what stayed with me was the expression in Bharti’s eyes within the final shot of Geeli Pucchi.

Watch Ajeeb Daastaans for that. It’s obtainable on Netflix.

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