Translated, “Ajeeb Daastaans” means “funny stories”. Not humor in the form of silliness, but a sad impression when fate comes with irony, surprise, or strangeness, until someone laughs at his fate. Best Movie Site
The first story (Majnu) opens when Babloo (Jaideep Ahlawat), right on his wedding day, reveals that he married Lipakshi (Fatima Sana Shaikh) without love and purely for business (Lipakshi’s father is a board member). As the years go by, the lonely Lipakshi seduces the men around her, but Babloo still avoids her. Then comes Raj (Armaan Ralhan), a handsome young man who becomes Babloo’s new accountant.
Predictably, a forbidden love grows. But Shashank Khaitan as the director and scriptwriter, has prepared some twists. First, a twist that changes the perception of Babloo, making him a tragic figure. The dynamics also change through a series of tricky events that can outwit expectations.
The second twist, even though it adds entertainment value while exhaling the message of “eat the rich” as a form of revenge, ends up sacrificing other issues that are no less important and have been built from the start. Even so, as an opener, Majnu provoked interest in the next dish, which unfortunately, almost killed enthusiasm. Movie Review
Khilauna directed by Raj Mehta tells the story of the hard life of a housemaid named Meenal (Nushrratt Bharucha), and her sister, Binny (Inayat Verma). Even though it contains several issues (power abuse by men, social inequality), its substance is drowned out by a twist that is forced to be present just for the sake of shock value, and ignores logic related to characterizations. At this point, Ajeeb Daastaans seems like an anthology that only relies on twists.
Luckily, the last two segments broke the negative image. Directed by Neeraj Ghaywan whose name was raised after the success of Masaan (2015) and written by Sumit Saxena, Geeli Pucchi talks about caste, gender, and sexual identity. Bharti (Konkona Sen Sharma) is a factory worker forced to bury his dream of filling a data operator position, even though he is an outstanding graduate. The boss cited his inability to process Excel as the cause, but everyone knew the real reason was caste. Bharti is a dalit (low caste group that is forbidden to touch).
The position was given to Priya (Aditi Rao Hydari). Bharti and Priya are like polar opposites. Priya is feminine, from a well-known caste, meets beauty standards, while Bharti, who is strict and seems unfriendly, is often not considered a woman (before Priya’s arrival, the company was reluctant to provide women’s restrooms). Even though they are opposites, in the end they are friends, based on the same fate as women. Until one afternoon by the lake, as Bharti stares at Priya (which becomes even more meaningful thanks to Sharma’s non-verbal acting), their relationship develops into a romance.
Accompanied by beautiful melancholic music, Ghaywan presents a spectacle that is far different from the two previous stories. A lowkey, talky, substance over style drama. Bharti is a woman, low caste, and gay. However, his fate and that of Priya are not the same, because Bharti is a marginal among the marginalized, and this film is a bittersweet picture, which brings him together with that reality. If according to crowd-pleaser films, kindness will break down any barriers, not with Geeli Pucchi as a reflection of reality.
Ankahi takes a similar approach. Simple but piercing. It’s even simpler, because this segment by Kayoze Irani carries a familiar theme, namely family and love. Natasha (Shefali Shah) is upset with her husband, Rohan (Tota Roy Chowdhury), who refuses to learn sign language in order to interact with their daughter, Samaira (Sara Arjun), who will soon lose her sense of hearing.
Until a meeting with a deaf photographer named Kabir (Manav Kaul), brings back the happiness and fire of Natasha’s romance that has been extinguished for a long time. Sweet. That word perfectly describes this closing segment. The two main characters build romance without verbal speech, but that doesn’t mean they don’t “talk”. Instead of words from lips that (according to Kabir) are full of lies, they communicate through sign language, eyes, and most importantly, the heart.
Geeli Pucchi and Ankahi are not capped off by the surprise “WTF!” or tragedy, but produces a much stronger bitterness, because the characterization of the protagonist, as well as the process he goes through, is worked out in depth. Discrimination, dilemmatic romance, are things that almost everyone has experienced in various shapes and sizes. The situation that the main character faces feels close (no bloodbath, no bigger-than-live con). As a result, despite falling in the second segment after taking off well, Ajeeb Daastaans still managed to make a smooth landing. Top Movie