Ajeeb Daastaans: The best of Netflix India

One of the recent additions to Netflix originals, the four short films are no less than a work of magic

By Farheen Abdullah

KARACHI: When we listed down 5 Netflix India shows to look forward to in 2021, we expected good quality content, but what we did not expect was to be blown away by Ajeeb Daastaans in the way that we are. Released on 15th April and produced by Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment, Ajeeb Daastaans is a collection of four short films. Currently trending in countries across the world including Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, each short film is roughly 35 minutes long. The impact each leaves on its viewers, however, lasts much longer. It is close to impossible to review or comment on the collection without giving away some sort of spoilers, a fate that the project definitely does not deserve to meet. Yet, here is a half decent attempt at translating Ajeeb Daastaans’ magic into words.


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Directed and written by Shashank Khaitan, the first short film begins with a story that we have heard all too often. A couple stuck in a loveless marriage, where the man is in love with someone else but has been forced into marriage by his family to keep the family tree going. Fatima Sana Shaikh plays the role of Lipakshi, a young woman who is physically attractive to everyone but her husband, Babloo (played by Jaideep Ahlawat). However, the team makes sure that Majnu (crazy in love) does not end up being another story where the girl runs away with her lover and escapes a meaningless marriage. The short film takes its viewers on a rollercoaster of emotions, making them feel as if they can predict the next move, but leaves them stunned each time. The twists in the plot are genius, but also simple enough to keep track of. Power, class, sexuality, love, revenge all of these are explored in Majnu. The ability of the film to conclude on a note which perfectly ties in with the starting point of the movie is what makes it particularly enjoyable.


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Second in the series of short films by Netflix India, Khilauna (toy) is also the best that Ajeeb Daastaans has to offer. Perhaps one sign of a brilliant project is that it cannot be explained in words and just has to be watched, and that is what Khilauna by Raj Mehta deserves as well. One of the leads in the film is a child, Inayat Verma, but in no way is the film playful or ironically, appropriate for children. Khilauna is a haunting depiction of the world we live in, and the hurdles women have to face every step of the way. More importantly, the film is an important reminder of all that children notice and all that they are capable of. Khilauna ends on a particularly dark note, but that is the beauty of the film. It conveys the unimaginable in a manner which makes perfect sense.

Geeli Pucchi 

Neeraj Ghaywan’s Geeli Pucchi (sloppy kiss) steers Ajeeb Daastaans back into the direction of love and loss. But it also teaches a bigger lesson to its viewers, the lesson of loving one’s self and fighting for your rightful place in society and at work. Konkona Sen Sharma adapts the role of Bharti, a woman who operates machines at a factory otherwise dominated by men. Bharti is not only the best machine operator, she is also severely underutilized at her job. Her social status holds her back from exploring her true potential and she becomes a target of sexism and classism at her workplace. However, Bharti knows how to put her intelligence to use and works her way up the ladder in a way no one would have seen coming.


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The last in the series of short films, Ankahi (the unsaid) treats its viewers rather differently. Perhaps the only storyline out of the four which allows its characters to explore their relationships and thrive in new ones, Ankahi is full of surprises as well. Narrating stories of two deaf and dumb characters, the film relies heavily on using tools other than words to convey its message. Thus, facial expressions, direction and the appropriate use of sound steer most of the narrative. To say that the team hit the nail on the head with each of these would be an understatement. Shefali Shah does a fantastic job as the character who meets the audible and the deaf worlds halfway, yet loses herself in the process of caring for others. Out of the four short films featured in Ajeeb Daastaans, Ankahi is the only one that truly feels like a tragedy but proves exactly why the Netflix original is worth a watch and a treat for film enthusiasts.


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