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Ankahi Kahaniya – Like most Netflix anthologies, this one is watchable but simplistic!

A film about love and loneliness in a big city

Source: SIFY

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Tuesday 21 September 2021

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Movie Title

Ankahi Kahaniya – Like most Netflix anthologies, this one is watchable but simplistic!

Director

Saket Chaudhary, Abhishek Chaubey, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari

Star Cast

Kunal Kapoor, Zoya Hussain, Rinku Rajguru, Delzad Hiwale, Abhishek Banerjee

From Ajeeb Dastaans (April) to Ray (June) to Feels Like Ishq (July) and now Ankahi Kahaniyan— it’s raining anthologies on Netflix!

Ankahi Kahaniya (Untold Stories) has three ace directors— Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, Abhishek Chaubey and Saket Chaudhary—helming their own stories. 


Ashwini Iyer Tiwari (Nil Battey Sannata, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Panga)

The first part, directed by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, deals with Pradeep (Abhishek Banerjee) who comes from MP to Mumbai to earn a living. Working in a clothing store called ‘Delight Wear’, he is lonely, watches his colleague seal clothes from the store to wear on dates, and dunks Parle-G in water for dinner.  

His life changes when someone brings a female mannequin in the store. His eyes light up and it seems like love at first sight. He names her ‘Pari, sings and dance with the mannequin, objects when she’s made to wear skimpy clothes, and takes her out on ‘dates’. This behavior gets him fired from the job and he returns to his village where he meets a woman who shows interest in him. The short story makes a case for loneliness in the big city.

However, the way his fiancé laughs off his obsession with the mannequin is a bit of a stretch. The film, on various occasions, tries to whitewash his unnatural attraction to the mannequin by bringing in other examples like his grandfather’s attachment to the radio. A wonderful performance by Abhishek Banerjee and the supporting cast elevates the film.

Abhishek Chaubey (Ishqiya, Sonchiriya, Udta Punjab)

The second part by Abhishek Chaubey has two young people stuck in impossible situations. Nandu (Delzad Hiwale), who works as an usher in a cinema hall, lives with an alcoholic uncle. Manjari (Rinku Rajguru) wants to escape the hell-hole of a house where patriarchy reigns supreme. Not allowed to go to college, her mother constantly is irritable and loads her with chores, there are lecherous men all around her, and her brother slaps her during petty arguments. Her only escape? Watching movies, and more recently, meeting Nandu.

Can they escape their constricting lives and live out their dreams? The performances are exemplary particularly by Rinku Rajguru.

Saket Chaudhary (Pyaar Ke Side Effects, Hindi Medium)

The final story is by Saket Chaudhary. A wife (Zoya Hussain) discovers her husband is having an affair. In an unconventional move, she seeks out the mistress’s husband (Kunal Kapoor) to ‘discuss’ the situation. Unwilling at first, Kunal’s character gets drawn in to her macabre idea of recreating how the affair between their spouses may have started.

Zoya Hussain’s self-assured act where she plays the wife as equal parts adorable and equal parts eccentric is the film’s highlight!

Like most recent anthologies, Ankahi Kahaniya also features stories with great potential, but stick to a very simplistic, unlayered storytelling. We have seen the work by all these 3 directors and know they are capable of much more.

Is it then the nature of the beast? Are anthologies unaccommodating of more layered storytelling? You would think so. But when you think back to gems of stories that have made a mark within the 20-30 mins (like Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa from the Ray anthology), you think again.

Anthologies are wonderful as we get varying perspectives on a single platter, but one wishes these perspectives were given more space to go deeper. 

Sonia Chopra is a critic, columnist and screenwriter with over 15 years of experience. She tweets on @soniachopra

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