Ajeeb Daastaans Review: An emotional ride but not without the bumps; Konkona & Aditi’s segment stands out

Ajeeb Daastaans is complex, earnest but not so ajeeb after all. Manav Kaul’s performance definitely deserves an award
Ajeeb Daastaans Review Ajeeb Daastaans Review: An emotional ride but not without the bumps; Konkona & Aditi’s segment stands out
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Movie Name: Ajeeb Daastaans

Ajeeb Daastaans cast: Fatima Sana Shaikh, Jaideep Ahlawat, Armaan Ralhan, Nushrratt Bharuccha, Abhishek Banerjee, Inayat Verma, Konkona Sen Sharma, Aditi Rao Hydari, Shefali Shah, Manav Kaul

Ajeeb Daastaans Directors: Shashank Khaitan, Raj Mehta, Neeraj Ghaywan, Kayoze Irani

Ajeeb Daastaans Stars: 3/5

Ajeeb Daastaans Platform: Netflix

There are a lot of things that I felt while watching Ajeeb Daastaans, but what remained constant through the narrative was of the feeling of despondency. Which is when a line from Kayoze Irani's segment Ankahi came to my aide. Manav Kaul plays Kabir, a photographer in the short. When Shefali Shah’s Natasha tells him, “I think the photographs you click have a little sadness in them.” To that Kabir responds, “What people see in my photographs, it says less about me and more about them.” That’s what Ajeeb Daastaans and the four filmmakers manage to do, help you relate. Directed by Shashank Khaitan, Raj Mehta, Neeraj Ghaywan and Kayoze Irani, this anthology talks about humans, our relationships, and the baggage that organically comes with it.

But that’s not it. Ajeeb Daastaans deals with several topics right for unrequited love, to loyalty, sexuality and most importantly caste. These are stories that one could relate with, but sometimes it even gets too ambitious in their narrative. Mehta’s Khilauna starring Nushrratt Bharuccha, Abhishek Banerjee and Inayat Verma tries to highlight the unfair gap between the rich and the poor, but all it does by the end is make you uncomfortable, and not in a good way. The characters seemed one dimensional and lacked depth.

The upside about Khilauna is the editing. Sruthy Sukumaran brilliantly shuttles between the present and the past, not once letting it hamper the flow. Bharuccha does a good job as Meenal, though I wish certain stereotypes around a maid’s character could have been done away with. Banerjee’s performance constantly reminded me of his similar outing in Amazon Prime video’s Unpaused. Verma, just like in Anurag Basu’s Ludo, was the star of the segment. 

Shashank Khaitan's Majnu is a story about betrayal, love and redemption (in the same order), and more or less lives up to its theme. The story revolves around a couple (played by Jaideep Ahlawat and Fatima Sana Shaikh) who end up together because of a business alliance, and their struggles to find happiness for themselves. However, Armaan Ralhan turns up as Raj - a twist in their not so fairy tale - which turns their lives upside down. Now was it for the better or bad is for the audience to decide. Babloo’s (Ahlawat) truth seems more or less expected, and it seemed the writer took an easy way out there to explain the lead couple’s situation. The end was definitely unexpected. 

Dialogues stay true to the milieu and it’s characters, with Fatima’s “Babloo ghar se bahar hai toh andar ka Shah Rukh jaga hai?” being my most favourite. The song “Bhavra” is beautifully written by Khaitan, and thankfully helps to take the story forward rather than just using it as a prop. While Ralhan and Shaikh lived up to their characters, it seemed Ahlawat was struggling to connect to his part. 

Neeraj Ghaywan's Geeli Pucchi probably has the most layered characters. It deals with the subject of caste, sexuality and ambitions effortlessly showcased through the friendship that Bharti (Konkona Sen Sharma) and Priya (Aditi Rao Hydari) forge in the film. Bharti is shown struggling with her personal and professional disappointments, when Priya walks into her life promising a friendly alliance that will last forever. However, it's soon unveiled that Bharti was the only true friend in that relationship. But that’s not all, there is more to the story and kudos to Ghaywan for brilliantly compiling them altogether in this approx 40 minutes short. As far as the performances are concerned, Konkona’s eyes speak louder than words, and all her close ups do complete justice to that. She has even got the body language right. Aditi effortlessly personifies Priya’s insecurity, exuberance, confusion and guilt. It's a shame that she is so underrated in the industry. 

Last but not the least is Irani's Shefali Shah and Manav Kaul starrer Ankahi. There are multiple stories woven in one here. Ankahi is about a lovelorn Natasha (Shah), about a beautiful mother-daughter relationship and also about an association whose fate was clear right from its inception. While the story or the theme wasn't unique, the performances were. There are some beautiful scenes between Shah and Kaul that encourage a smile, especially the one filmed in Kabir’s art gallery. Like always Shefali stands out, but if there was an award for best actor in the entire anthology, then Manav Kaul definitely takes the trophy home. 

To sum it up, Ajeeb Daastaans is a mix bag of good and not-so good stories, but it’s attempt is earnest, which definitely deserves a mention. If you are looking for happy endings then this one is not for you, but if you have a taste for hard hitting narratives then you should give this a watch.

Also Read: Raat Baaki Hai Movie Review: Rahul Dev impresses in this run of the mill and pointless thriller

Anonymous 4 weeks ago

FLOOOP

Anonymous 4 weeks ago

I liked the first story where the husband wife reconcile in the end .the other three have several loopholes .