Navarasa is a 9 episode Indian anthology armed with an interesting idea and premise. However, the execution is a little shaky at times. Much like other anthologies of its kind, there are some duds along the way but those duds far outweigh the outstanding chapters on display here.
In its simplest form, Navarasa depicts 9 short films, each targeting a different emotion and revolving a story around that. The first chapter tackles anger, the second laughter and so on and so forth.
The ensuing result is a show that manages to gain a great tonal balance across the different chapters while showcasing the talents of different Indian filmmakers. Some of the episodes – like chapters 4 and 5 – tend to stagnate and flatline into mediocrity while others (most notably episode 3) throw in a whole bunch of sci-fi mumbo jumbo to disguise from the paper-thin plot.
It’s not all bad though and aesthetically at least, this anthology looks great. There’s some creative editing, beautiful cinematography and some pretty good directing too. Unfortunately where Navarasa slips up is where it matters most – with its story. There just isn’t enough here to really sink your teeth into and as soon as the chapter you’re watching picks up a good sense of speed, it comes to an end.
With each chapter ranging from 25-40 minutes, Navarasa is a very easy show to pick up and watch. Your mileage will vary with this one though, especially given the range of different stories being told – and the quality therein.
Most of these films are slow burns too, with the subsequent reveals drip-fed over time with tiny slivers of foreshadowing.
As an artistic piece though, Navarasa does a pretty good job showcasing some real Indian talents. However, the anthology is ultimately weighed down by an overwhelming feel of mediocrity. There’s nothing outright bad about this project but equally nothing that really stands out as excellent either. A few of these chapters are hits but the overwhelming majority are misses which is a real shame.