Anthology: Ajeeb Daastaans
Cast: Fatima Sana Shaikh, Jaideep Ahlawat, Armaan Ralhan, Nushrratt Baruccha, Inayat Verma, Abhishek Banerjee, Aditi Rao Hydari, Konkona Sen, Shefali Shah and Manav Kaul.
Directors: Shashank Khaitan, Raj Mehta, Neeraj Ghaywan and Kayoze Irani
Written By: Shashank Khaitan, Sumit Saxena, Uzma Khan, Neeraj Ghaywan
Rating: 4 Moons
Following the success of Lust Stories (2018) and Ghost Stories (2020), Karan Johar presents the brilliant anthology Ajeeb Daastaans from his web production company Dharmatic Entertainment. Directed by Kayoze Irani, Neeraj Ghaywan, Raj Mehta and Shashank Khaitan, Ajeeb Daastaans showcases four diverse stories exploring human flaws and emotions like jealousy, entitlement, prejudices and toxicity, which are often entangled at the heart of a relationship.
Starring Fatima Sana Shaikh, Jaideep Ahlawat, Armaan Ralhan, Nushrratt Bharuccha, Inayat Verma, Abhishek Banerjee, Aditi Rao Hydari, Konkona Sen, Shefali Shah and Manav Kaul, the films raise questions that will leave you with a dilemma between what’s right and what’s wrong as the lines get blurred.
Directed by Shashank Khaitan, Majnu is a short film based on lust and revenge. Lipakshi (Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Bablu (Jaideep Ahlawat) are an unhappy married couple looking for their own reality in a web of lies. Their life goes upside down when Rajkummar (Armaan Ralhan), the educated and handsome son of Bablu’s driver, enters their boring married life.
Fatima as dissatisfied, young, married Lipakshi is as convincing as it gets. She adds the much-needed charm and glamour to her role. Jaideep as influential goon Bablu is on point with his role, as always. With his rowdy and rough look, he brings his best to the platter. However, it is Armaan Ralhan as Rajkummar who takes the cake with his game-changing performance. Majnu matches the meaning of its name but is filled with shocks and twists, just like one would expect from Shashank’s directorial. The filmmaker is simply excellent in his direction. With the backdrop of scare, terror and suspense, he accounts for chills.
Raj Mehta’s Khilauna is an unexpected tale of the scary class distinction in India. The short film is based on how a house help Minal (Nushrratt Bharuccha) manages to keep her seven-year-old sister Bini (Inayat Verma) happy despite living a poor life in the world of riches. Minal along with her partner Sushil (Abhishek Banerjee) dreams of smashing societal differences between the rich and the poor but faces life-threatening consequences because of her younger sister Bini.
Nushrratt plays the role of a maid in the most natural manner. Her dialect is correct and body language perfect. Inayat brings in the innocence of a young girl along with heart wrenching drama. Abhishek, as a dhobi, is nothing that he has played before. He does full justice to his role and adds suspense to the story. Raj’s direction is commendable. Even with an open ending, the filmmaker leaves the audience with a bombshell.
Neeraj Ghaywan’s short film Geeli Pucchi brings something new to the old tale of same-sex love. The film is based on a Dalit factory worker Bharti Mondol (Konkona Sen) and a Brahman data accountant Priya Sharma (Aditi Rao Hydari). While both these women work in the same office, the difference in their treatment knows no limit because of their caste. However, to Priya all that matters is Bharti’s companionship and love but not at the cost of accepting her own truth.
Aditi and Konkona present a great performance together. Their chemistry seems effortless with pinches of fun, laughter and friendship. And while Neeraj tries his best to show something unique, Geeli Pucchi lacks conviction at some points. However, with great writing and A1 acting, the short film manages to hold the fort.
Kayoze Irani’s Unkahi is without doubt the best of them all. Based on Natasha’s (Shefali Shah) complicated relationship with her husband who fails to make their deaf teenage daughter his priority, the short is based on the several emotions a person goes through without speaking a single word. Natasha, fed up with her always busy husband, meets a deaf photographer (Manav Kaul) who speaks to her with his eyes and the two soon fall in love. However, their story does not take the expected turn.
Shefali’s and Manav’s touching chemistry speaks a thousand words. Special mention of Manav’s expressions must be made. Kayoze takes us to a world where eyes do the talking and leaves the audience emotional with the tale. The winner of Ajeeb Daastaans has to be this heartwarming yet heartbreaking tale of Unkahi.
In totality, some stories take you places, but these 4 will take you somewhere you never thought you’d go to. Somewhere Ajeeb, maybe! Watch Ajeeb Daastaans to explore the strange world that leaves you between the right and the wrong and of course, the choice is yours!
PeepingMoon gives Ajeeb Daastaans 4 Moons!