Updated: September 25, 2021 12:58:09 pm
In the last couple of years, the top bosses at streaming platforms seem to have fallen in love with the format of anthologies. The audience is no stranger to this format as we have seen these in theatres, as well as on television. Films like Bombay Talkies, Dus Kahaniyaan, Darna Mana Hai explored the format in cinema but in television, the concept was quite prevalent in the 1990s with shows like Star Bestsellers and Rishtey. Years later, the format has reappeared on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video but with the barrage of anthologies that we have gotten in the last few years, has the quality stayed consistent? Just in the last few months, Ray, Feels Like Ishq and Ankahi Kahaniya released on Netflix. Before that, we saw anthologies like Ajeeb Daastaans, Unpaused, Ghost Stories, Lust Stories amongst a few others.
Here’s a definitive ranking of all the Hindi anthologies that have been released in the recent past from worst to best:
7. Ankahi Kahaniya
The latest release on Netflix, Ankahi Kahaniya is a collection of three shorts by directors Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Abhishek Chaubey and Saket Chaudhary. The first story by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari revolved around a salesman, played by Abhishek Banerjee, who develops affection for a mannequin. While the film makes you sympathise for the protagonist at the beginning, you start losing interest as soon as you are forced to confront his ‘real-life’ in the village, and the social perception of his apparent fetish. The story by Saket Chaudhary, starring Zoya Hussain and Kunal Kapoor, has a man and a woman discovering how their partners have been cheating on them. The idea of the film is quite reminiscent of Modern Love S2’s In the Waiting Room of Estranged Spouses, but the execution, not so much. Sandwiched between these two mediocre shorts is Abhishek Chaubey’s film starring Rinku Rajguru and Delzad Hiwale. The man and the woman here are drowning in their lives but a glance into each other’s eyes gives them a straw to hold on to. The film takes a Sairat-like turn but retains its individuality. The silences and the pauses speak in this anthology, making it a standout in this anthology.
6. Feels Like Ishq
The six short stories of Feels Like Ishq range from amateur attempts to delicate and genuinely sweet stories. Sachin Kundalkar’s Interview, starring Neeraj Madhav and Zayn Marie Khan, and Danish Aslam’s She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not, starring Saba Azad and Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, had enough substance to make you root for its characters. Ruchir Arun’s Save The Da(y)te, starring Radhika Madan and Amol Parashar, though a little frothy, was still a fun tale that works primarily because of its actors. The same can’t be said for the rest of the three stories.
5. Ghost Stories
Released in 2020, Ghost Stories’ four shorts by Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee explored the theme of horror and while some were praised for their nuanced take on the genre, others were criticised for bowing down to familiar tropes. Banerjee’s zombie-town story shadowed over the others with its unique take on the genre and its breathtaking execution. Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar’s shorts weren’t shocking enough for the genre as you can see the suspense from miles away. Anurag Kashyap’s short was the goriest of them all and managed to paint a horrifying picture in your head.
Prime Video’s Unpaused explored the time when our lives were paused during the first lockdown of 2020. Raj and DK, Nitya Mehra, Nikkhil Advani, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Avinash Arun’s stories examined how the lockdown and the pandemic affected the lives of people belonging to different economic and social classes. Raj and DK’s Glitch, starring Saiyami Kher and Gulshan Devaiah, explored the unpredictable nature of the virus and the loneliness that came with it because of the forced isolation. Nitya Mehra’s Chaand Mubarak, starring Ratna Pathak Shah, Shardul Bharadwaj, was a bit cliched with its end but was overall a sweet attempt in trying to convey the human connections that are formed during times of adversity. Nikkhil Advani’s Apartment, starring Richa Chadha, Sumeet Vyas, Ishwak Singh, explored the dangerous side of loneliness and Tannishtha Chatterjee’s Rat-A-Tat, starring Rinku Rajguru and Lillette Dubey explored how loneliness can sometimes bring people together. But the best out of the lot was Avinash Arun’s Vishaanu starring Abhishek Banerjee and Geetika Vidya Ohlyan. The story of migrant workers stuck in the city with no food and residence mirrored reality. Their tender moments in the highrise building made for a bittersweet tale.
Ray was based on the works of Satyajit Ray with shorts by Srijit Mukherji, Abhishek Chaubey and Vasan Bala. The four stories here were presented with a hint of surrealism that made the experience a little immersive. Chaubey’s Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, starring Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao, aced the lot as it told the story of a kleptomaniac ghazal singer who comes face to face with an ex-wrestler years after stealing his ‘lucky’ talisman. The performances, the setting, the music, and even the added element of the shop that absolves you of your guilt – everything worked in this short’s favour. Vasan Bala’s Spotlight was lifted by Radhika Madan’s presence. Srijit Mukherji’s Bahrupiya and Forget Me Not were admirable attempts but didn’t leave an impression like the others.
2. Ajeeb Daastaans
The four stories of Ajeeb Daastaans ranged from uniquely romantic to terrifying and offered an ‘ajeeb’ twist to seemingly regular circumstances. Raj Mehta’s Khilona, starring Abhishek Banerjee and Nushrratt Bharuccha, had a nightmarish climax and Shashank Khaitan’s Majnu, starring Jaideep Ahlawat and Fatima Sana Shaikh seemed like a chip off the old block but had a new angle to it. Kayoze Irani’s Ankahi was lifted with the mesmerising performances of Shefali Shah and Manav Kaul. But it was Neeraj Ghaywan’s Geeli Puchi that won the day here. Konkona Sen Sharma and Aditi Rao Hydari play two women whose friendship is just a bit more than platonic but the barrier of caste is the biggest hindrance on their path.
1. Lust Stories
With Lust Stories, we saw four interpretations of the theme by directors Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar. Karan’s short, starring Kiara Advani and Vicky Kaushal, shot Advani into stardom as she played a newlywed who is struggling to find bliss in her married life. Zoya’s short starring Bhumi Pednekar was a melancholic tale of a romance that was doomed to begin with. Dibakar’s short, starring Manisha Koirala, Jaideep Ahlawat and Sanjay Kapoor, explored the nuances of a long-term marriage and how relationships survive despite the loss of love and Anurag’s short, starring Radhika Apte and Akash Thosar, explored the idea of an open marriage and the delicate nature of monogamy. All in all, the four shorts here were impressive independently.
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