A Compelling Anthological Treat
Ajeeb Daastaans is an intriguing anthology film tackling themes surrounding love, betrayal and passion. Split across four different short films, this Indian picture certainly has a lot to offer – although its execution is a little hit or miss at times.
The first film is arguably the weakest of the bunch. If you can get past that though, the rest of the movie opens up in the best possible way.
The first picture opens with “Majnu”, a pretty heavy-handed film that follows a politically charged arranged marriage. Here we see an ice cold husband called Babloo telling his new bride Lipakshi not to expect love between them.
We then jump forward 3 years to find Lipakshi desperate to find passion and love. Eventually she finds that in the form of a new man arriving at the house.
The second film, “Khilauna”, changes the perspective of love between spouses to that of siblings. Our protagonist is Meenal, who works in a variety of different middle-class homes as a servant. She’s desperate to pay for the education of her kid sister Binny, who has big dreams for the future.
This one is by far the most thematically interesting, tackling issues surrounding class and sexism with an undercurrent of rage and bitterness. The editing in particular is really well done, with a compelling hook and a nice resolution at the end too.
“Geeli Pucchi” then shifts the perspective slightly to a narrative about two women, Bharti and Sharma, navigating the murky world of discrimination and societal expectations. With a run-time of nearly 45 minutes, this movie is given plenty of time to breathe.
The final movie, “Ankahee”, tackles a few different stories with the central theme of communication playing a huge part in this. To be honest, this one’s best jumping into blind so I won’t divulge much about the story. Suffice to say though, the ending is pretty hard-hitting, with a suitably sombre and thought provoking conclusion.
In fact, sombre and thought provoking perfectly sums up this Indian anthology. Although there are meaningful themes of love, relationships and comradeship, a lot of the movie is steeped in a heavy dose of poignancy. These stories don’t always end with happy resolutions, and it can make for a bit of a difficult watch at times.
With any anthology like this, the quality is always going to feel a bit hit or miss. The opening short in particular is pretty rough around the edges, while the slow burn feel of the third picture could put some people off.
Despite its flaws, Ajeeb Daastaans is an anthological treat and well worth your time.