Ajeeb Daastaans is a Hindi anthology of 4 short films released by Netflix on 16th April 2021. Shashank Khaitaan, Raj Mehta, Neeraj Ghaywan and Kayoze Irani are the respective directors of four stories namely Majnu, Khilauna, Geeli Pucchi and Ankahi. The anthology is produced by Karan Johar. The film’s cast includes Jaideep Ahlawat, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Nushrratt Bharuccha, Inayat Verma, Abhishek Banerjee, Aditi Rao Hydari, Konkona Sen Sharma, Shefali Shah, Manav Kaul.
Each story brings a shocking/heartbreaking feel to the audience. From the title song itself, we can clearly understand that the movie is a female-focused Anthology. According to public opinions, Geeli Pucchi and Ankahi is the heart of the anthology as Majnu and Khilauna were not up to the mark.
The first Film of the Anthology, Majnu(lover) tells the story of a couple who has led a loveless marriage life. There is also a saying that Majnu has got little inspiration from the Mirzapur series. The talented actors Fatima Sana Shaikh(Lipakshi) and Jaideep Ahlawat(Babloo) were not at all utilized to bring their full potential in this film.
The film deals with a wealthy old man who is absent in bed and lacks romance is forced to marry a young beautiful woman who is tired of her husband’s behaviour searching for love and flirts with almost every man she meets. The film becomes more enthusiastic with the entry of Babloo’s driver’s son who works as an accounts manager. The film has got a revenge twist at the climax and it may deserve a one-time watch
The second film, Khilauna (Toy) tells the story of a housemaid Meenal (Nushrratt Bharucha) who works in homes of a housing colony to pay the school fees of her little sister(Inayat Verma). They live on the outskirts of the colony stealing electricity.
This film wanted to show clear discrimination between the rich and the poor. But the director has sexualized Meenal instead of humanizing her which is a great drawback. When they lose power connection Meenal tries to get it back by working at the home of the colony Secretary where also she is treated sexually. However, the film has got a terrifying twist at the climax which may not be digested by the family audience.
Listed third in the anthology but deserves first place overall is Geeli Pucchi (Sloppy kisses). Here also the main theme is caste discrimination which still exists in many localities in India.
The film speaks about the life of a Dalit lesbian woman Bharti (Konkona Sen Sharma) who works as a factory worker who dreams of an accountant job in that office. She never even stand a chance to prove her capability as an accountant even though the fact that she is qualified for the job only because is a Dalit (Lower Cast). Even when the job vacancy is available, it is given to Priya (Aditi Rao Hydari) who is a brahmin. At first, Bharti hates her but slowly due to Priya’s soothing attitude towards her make Bharti fell in love with her.
The film has a got a positive review over Majnu and Khilauna. Konkona Sen Sharma delivers great acting throughout the film. After all the film got a dream come true climax for Bharti.
The last film in this anthology, Ankahi (Untold) deals with upper-middle-class housewife Natasha (Shefali Shah) who is struggling to maintain peace in her family. Her small family consists of a teenage daughter who is losing her hearing and a husband who is busy with work and never have time for his child.
The story goes on as she accidentally bumps into a photographer, Kabir (Manav Kaul) who is hearing impaired, the two develop a friendship that blossoms into love, all while communicating using sign language. Ankahi also gets good reviews unlike the first two and the casting is also perfect. The film has got a heart-breaking climax and was perfectly presented by these two great actors (Shefali and Manav) with just expressions.
As the name suggests Ajeeb Daastaans is a collection of Weird Stories. It has main a theme of fractured love and a sub-theme of discrimination too. In the anthology ‘Geeli Pucchi’ and ‘Ankahi’ make an impact, ‘Khilauna’ and ‘Majnu’ end up being shockingly bad. According to us, the film is a unique, one-time watch Hindi Anthology.
IMDb – 6.8/10
Times of India – 3.5/5
Our Rating – 3/5