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RAD Review: Ajeeb Dastaan

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

Image Source: Netflix


The title, Ajeeb Daastaan, itself reveals the world of some weird stories in coherence with the actual song, kaha shuru kaha manzile hai konsi, naa vo samjh sake naa hum.

The four story small anthology on Netflix is nothing but a simple and improved storytelling of pre- existing subjects. This Karan Johar produced is a collection of stories reflecting the dualities that are ingrained in the society. It depicts the primary differences between the favored and detested, seen and unseen, spoken and muted facets of the complex ideologies etched in our minds. The first short of the four by Shashank Khaitan opens up with Ahlawat entering the room to reveal that the marriage is merely a political arrangement. And Lipakshi (Fatima Sana Sheikh) should not expect any affections from his husband.

Image Source: IMDB

Lipakshi’s sensual voice takes over in a greater part of the film: seducing, teasing.

Because she married for love, but her husband refuses to love her bluntly and has given his reasons. The plot starts to hold direction when the driver’s London returned brawny son, Raj, becomes the financial advisor because of the shortage of dialogues. Then the medium pace story revolves around the hunky guy drooling over Lipakshi to set forth a run for a new life. The performances delivered by both centric characters, Fatima and Jaideep, have comparatively descended from Ludo and Patal lok. Nevertheless, the direction and writing holds you with a string of underlying secrets and motives these characters hold. And the advertent cinematography is weaved to talk with your emotions smoothly connecting with the story. And the story ends with an explosion of revelations, hacking the accounts with not-so-hacking visuals, and the reason for the betrayal. The one primary thing that lets you gulp in the end is Ahlawat holding Sana Sheikh’s hand consoling her rather than a frenzy reaction. Now, the reason for an otherwise frenzy reaction lies behind playing the play button.

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Khilauna, the second medium-paced continuation on the subject of differences between patricians and commoners is a well-crafted whodunnit masterpiece. The story unfolds from the narratives of a housemaid (Nushrat Bharuccha) and a dhobi (Abhishek Banerjee) being beaten up for a crime at a perverted employer’s house.

The director, Raj Mehta, has played stupendously showing the marginal differences between two facets of societies. Both of these surreptitiously subverting facets have a primary motive of exploiting each other for personal gains or as a subtext defined in the film - “servants are toys to the privileged and masters are toys to the servants”. The 8-year old character stole the entire show for her tremendously perfect performance, lest how she reacts and learns things without knowing the differences between good and bad. Nevertheless, the ending before the screen goes off is on a much higher ghastly tangent to any of the four shorts, revealing the suspense.

Image Source: The Quint

Geeli Pucchi, directed by Neeraj Ghaywan is a not-so-small installment of the four-part anthology. The longest of all, and the most terrific, manages to justify its long duration for its multi-layer and spherical analyses on different seen and unseen subjects of society. The primary story revolves around the character of Bharti Mandal (Konkona Sen Sharma) for a desk job she needs at her workplace. The story acutes for different marginalities with the introduction of Priya (Aditi Rao Hydari), and sets forth in the revelation of homosexualities through a Geeli Pucchi. It tenaciously touches different demeaning subjects of society like marginal differences, gender discrimination, intra-gender differences, homosexuality all weaved perfectly with each other. Unlike the cursory ending of the previous two shorts, this one has a subliminal way of ending at the face of Bharti. And that would leave you in a dichotomy of your emotions fused

together yet acceptance of the hindsight.

The final short, Ankahi, is a small unsaid, and unheard poem of a small world revolving around Shefali Shah, her daughter with an amplifying deafness, a reluctant husband, and an outsider with whom she’s cheating on her husband. The polarities in the contribution of all very well life for their daughter is crafted commendably. While Shefali dives into the world of her daughter learning sign language, her husband is superficially trying to set up things with a cochlear implant — unknowingly ignorant to her daughter. And for this very reason, bitterness has evolved between the two.

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However, that is when Manav Kaul, an artist who is deaf meets her in an art exhibition. Further on, the performances by both Manav and Shefali are appreciatively marked with no dialogues in the verbal conveying medium. And the shots for sign language conversations are pinpoint perfect. Finally, the short ends with a long pause on both of their faces with a lesson that we believe is - “Someone’s problems can become a learning to another, and that another’s learning can bloom into illuminating other’s life”.

Overall, Ajeeb Daastaan is a medium-paced half-excellent half-moderate experience that is worth your subscription to Netflix and your time in comparison to any anthologies released in the past. The only new thing in this anthology is unconventional yet perfectly fitting ways of

direction, cinematography and multi-layered storytelling. And that would leave you in the disposition of your thoughts at least for a night and a week’s discussion over it, specifically for Geeli Pucchi.

Directed by

Writing Credits

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