Ajeeb Daastaans on Netflix is an Anthology of four short stories, each with a different aspect of relationships. While the key theme of the movie is ‘ajeeb’ in its own way, the movie also takes to social commentary. If you ask us, you are probably not going to want to stop. Over 2 hours 22 minutes long, you will see how these ‘daastaans’ are layered and beautifully written.
Ajeeb Daastaans Cast: Jaideep Ahlawat, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Armaan Ralhan, Abhishek Banerjee, Nushrat Bharucha, Konkona Sensharma, Aditi Rao Hydari, Shefali Shah, Manav Kaul, Tota Roychoudhary
Technical Department: Produced by Karan Johar, Ajeeb Daastaans has four directors on board: Shashank Khaitan, Raj Mehta, Neeraj Ghaywan, and Kayoze Irani. It is written by Shashank Khaitan, Sumeet Saxena, Neeraj Ghaywan, and Uzma Khan.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Where to watch it: Ajeeb Daastaans is now streaming on Netflix. (April 16)
Ajeeb Daastaans plot
The movie narrates four tales. ‘Majnu’ features Jaideep as local goon Babloo and Shaikh as Leepakshi, the daughter of an MLA. It is a loveless marriage, but not for reasons you might think of. On one hand, Leepakshi tries to pull off antics by finding love outside marriage, she also seems to get her loverboys in trouble. Babloo, her husband, though does not want to do anything with her, wants to ensure that the ‘garima’ and ‘seema’ is maintained. The way this story ends is the twist we don’t see coming. This is directed by Shashank.
Mehta’s Khilauna with Nushrat as the house help Meenal, Inaya Verma as her sister Binny, and Abhishek as the ironman Sushil. In the search for happiness, the three are put through rather cruel situations. While Meenal is simply trying to get herself some electricity and her sister some free food, she is pushed above and beyond.
Geeli Pucchi by Ghaywan narrates the story of Bharti (Konkana) and Priya (Aditi). While Bharti is a Dalit factory worker trying to rise above her ranks, Priya is almost the opposite. Without getting into too many details, Priya swoops in as the new data operator, the job Bharti has been eyeing. How it all ends is the highlight!
Kayoze’s Ankahi is the story of a couple, Natasha (Shefali) and Rohan (Tota), parents to Samaira, who is slowly losing her ability to hear. While Natasha learns sign language for her, Rohan doesn’t. With constant arguments and differences of opinion, Natasha finds solace in Kabir (Manav), who also uses sign language. The story pretty much plays around its title, Ankahi, and that’s where the beauty lies.
First things first, it is absolutely overwhelming how every story from this Netflix anthology makes an impact. While Majnu talks about how lust, love, and desire lead to, it is the engaging performances from both Shaikh and Ahlawat that win us over. When you go through it, you see how it also makes an attempt to break stereotypes around gender and families. A stark commentary on how honour is of utmost importance, everything else seems to take a backseat. In a scene where Leepakshi tells Raj how he can eye her around all day and yet, talks about honour is exactly the kind of hypocrisy that needs to be called out.
A surprisingly terrific performance comes from Nushrat, where she unearths various layers to her character Meenal. Though Khilauna is a story that we may find in many households, it isn’t the representation of the rebel that the upper class pushes the lower into. Apart from abuse of power, it also sheds light on the class disbalance, both intertwining and how. While we talk about human rights, this story shows what people also do in its name. In this strong narration about class, we see light moments between the trio of Nushrat, Inayat, and Bannerjee, and they are beautiful. The background score in this story, in particular, had my heart. Though a rather uncomfortable story, the makers don’t market it as a sob story, and the music helps.
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The third story sees Konkana and Aditi, and while it talks about the caste system, it is their performances that elevate the story. There’s a scene where Konkana’s Bharti says, ”Humme koi defect nahi hai jo tumhe theek karna hai” and it has my heart. In passing, the short manages to give out so many lessons about caste, class, and also gender. With so much going on, you need a breather, and that’s what the final story, Ankahi gives you.
Shefali and Manav sure did have my attention, but that is all I was looking forward to. But in more ways than one, Ankahi is the most feel-good yet unsettling story. While on one hand, Manav’s character Kabir says things like ‘Mujhe lagta hai log aaj kal khus hona bhool gaye hain’, he also says things like ‘tumne toh ankhon se bhi jhoot bol liya’. And that, is beautiful, and also something only class actors like Shefali and Manav can manage to do.
Everything about Ajeeb Daastaans is likable, including the supporting cast members, and everything else that comes. For someone who feels that cinematography is important, it is also something that kept me hooked. The introduction edit for Ajeeb Daastaans is also beautiful, so much that I couldn’t fast-forward the beginning credits.
Ajeeb Daastaans Highs
The cast of every story is an absolute highlight for me. While Ankahi is one of my favourites, Geeli Pucchi also leaves a long-lasting impact. The best part about Netflix anthology Ajeeb Daastaans is how it leaves you thinking. While it raises questions, it doesn’t explicitly do so. There is something for everyone in Ajeeb Daastaans, and a little that everyone will relate to in every story. Not to forget, as each story ends, it leaves you with a surprise ending! Also, one might think that the Ajeeb Daastaans cast is tailor-made for every story we hear.
Ajeeb Daastaans lows
There isn’t a lot to not like about the movie. A quick rewatch did make me question if it is overtly complicated? Without giving away any spoilers, Khilauna’s ending is open to perception. Just maybe, some stories don’t need to come to a full circle, and that would have been okay!
Should you watch it?
You should definitely not miss out on watching the movie and this Ajeeb Daastaans review is proof. With absolutely beautifully written stories and well-directed shots, the movie has raised the bar quite high. With so many layers to each story, I felt both overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. Almost nothing about Ajeeb Daastaans on Netflix is not so ajeeb, and yet, it leaves you with a smile, or often, a tear in the eye. Kudos to the cast of Ajeeb Daastaan and the entire team!
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