Star Cast: Abhishek Banerjee, Rajeev Pandey, Jay Uppadhyaay, Chirag Vohra, ‘TJ Bhanu’ Parvati Murty, Rinku Rajguru, Delzad Hiwale, Kunal Kapoor, Zoya Hussain, Nikhil Diwedi, Palomi
Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Abhishek Chaubey, Saket Chaudhary
What’s Good: Finally Bollywood is getting the hang of how to design good anthology films
What’s Bad: Why just three stories?
Loo Break: No chance!
Watch or Not?: Stop whatever you’re doing and watch it (unless you’re already watching this, then don’t stop!)
Available On: Netflix
Runtime: 110 Minutes
The first of three stories explore the transformational phase of a lonely-to-his-soul person Pradeep (Abhishek Banerjee), a clothing shop salesman, in a bustling city like Mumbai. He’s no more alone because he finds a companion, who literally won’t say a word even if Pradeep leaves his pee in the toilet unattended (sorry, for a shitty example). Why? You ask so? Because his partner is a mannequin. How this story will unpeel itself? Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari makes love look believable on-screen, no matter if it’s with a human or just a thing.
Second, comes in Sairat’s Rinku Rajguru playing the role of Manjari in a vintage Bombay (back then) set in the 1980s. Amid the soothing chaos of stamping tickets, clinking cola bottles with metal openers & ‘sabki pasand’ washing powder’s advertisement, we get our hero Nandu (Delzad Hiwale) working at a canteen of the city’s famous single screen theatre. While falling for each other, they somewhere also realise how escapism never flourishes into love. They both have one thing in common, but is that love? ‘Ishqiya’ director Abhishek Chaubey sketches ‘Ishq’ again giving it a different shade this time.
Lastly, life comes full circle for Saket Chaudhary who made his debut with ‘Pyaar/Shaadi Ke Side Effects’ & is now actually covering a strong side-effect in depth i.e. infidelity. Tanu (Zoya Hussain) somehow hunts down Manav (Kunal Kapoor), whose wife Natasha (Palomi) is having an affair with her husband Arjun (Nikhil Diwedi). They roleplay the entire incident which might have led their spouses to cheat on them. They uncover each other (literally) while uncovering the truth about their cheating partners. Will they end up with each other? It might not be what you’ve conveniently predicted in your head (or it might be?). Now, that I’ve successfully confused you, watch it to know.
Ankahi Kahaniya Movie Review: Script Analysis
The debut story hits the ball out of the park being undoubtedly the best of the lot. Diving deep into the isolation of a lonely man, Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain & Nitesh Tiwari’s story makes you believe in an idea whose one-liner explanation will either make you laugh or immediately detach from the thought of it. Here’s how it’s explained in a single line – ‘A companionless man seeking solace in a mannequin’, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and team not only align your thoughts with the characters but also feel for them. On a slightly different & crazy note, this is the closest Indian industry has gotten to Joaquin Phoenix’s Her. The idea of finding love at the most unexpected place has never been so beautifully stretched before.
The second one is based on a Kannada story ‘Madhyantara’ by Jayant Kaikini which means interval. There couldn’t have been a perfect title than this considering how the love story in this one ends at intervals of its characters’ lives. Rinku Rajguru’s Manjari & Delzad Hiwale’s Nandu find love in escapism. Do they really love each other or do they just adore the thought of escaping tough reality? Hussain Haidry & Abhishek Chaubey’s screenplay keeps the vintage Bombay as a strong supporting character. Also thanks to Avinash Arun Dhaware’s flawless camerawork, this might just be the most scenic representation of the city in recent times (the last best I recall is Ritesh Batra’s Photograph).
In the final story penned by Zeenat Lakhani, Saket Chaudhary has a lot of things to say about infidelity in a relationship in a very limited time. Despite being laden with way too many dialogues (some good, some meh) by Avinash Singh, it’s Eeshit Narain’s cinematography that adds the most impact. This story is a perfect marriage of dialogue-heavy screenplay (Zeenat & Saket) and aesthetically pleasing cinematography. The transition shots used to stitch the flashback sequences with current events earn many ‘wows’.
Ankahi Kahaniya Movie Review: Star Performance
I’d mentioned how Abhishek Banerjee was the biggest takeaway for me in 2018’s Stree and that fact remains the same. Though Hathoda Tyagi helped him garner immense critical claim, Ankahi Kahaniya gives him the wings to finally fly attaining his inevitable due. If you want to see why I’m so floored by his acting in this one, watch the way he smiles & cries at the same time in a confrontational sequence with a mannequin. A masterful performance by a master performer! We’ve three ‘Scam 1992’ celebs in this one, Jay Uppadhyaay (Pranav Seth), Chirag Vohra (Bhushan Bhatt) & the man behind the show’s viral theme Achint Thakker (giving the background score).
Both Jay & Chirag have nothing extraordinary to add as their roles aren’t in the blueprint of being remembered for a long time. Rajeev Pandey as Banerjee’s colleague at the store showcases every quality a jealous colleague could have, hence helping to build a sweet moment towards the end. Special mention for ‘TJ Bhanu’ Parvati Murty taking absolutely no time in strengthening the viewers’ connect backed by solid writing.
Rinku Rajguru continues to be what she’s best at and you just can’t get enough of her. Her strong suit of being natural helps her to develop a relatable character. Delzad Hiwale holds his ground in front of an immensely expressive Rinku. Delzad’s Nandu doesn’t get many dialogues but his easy-on-eyes (and heart) appearance benefits him to stay very well within the line of over-the-top drama.
Zoya Hussain was ‘love’ in Mukkabaaz and she continues to remain ‘love’ in this one too. Portraying a smart-dumb role, she gets nuisances on point and I once again request cinema-makers to help her landing more roles like this. Kunal Kapoor, the man who has denied to age, continues with his ‘as cool as ever’ trait in this one as well. Nikhil Diwedi & Palomi add additional support.
Ankahi Kahaniya Movie Review: Direction, Music
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari brings in the best of both worlds for this one as, despite a ‘beyond belief’ idea, she makes sure to squeeze in comical reliefs. There’s no proper closure to any of the stories, hence the title and Ashwiny’s ‘ankahi kahani’ speak the most to me. With movies like Udta Punjab & Sonchiriya, it’s a different ground for Abhishek Chaubey and he still manages to hit the ball out of the park.
Saket Chaudhary, returning after 4 years (Hindi Medium in 2017), gets backed by solid cinematography and screenplay, which helps in an intrigue-holding end to the anthology. Hesitation through close-up shots, contrasting behaviour via over-the-shoulder shots enhances the watching experience.
Scam 1992’s Achint Thakkar skillfully ranges from soothing to mysterious and drama with the background score of the first story. Naren Chandavarkar & Benedict Taylor in the second one underplay the BGM amid the vintage visual treat on-screen. Rishabh Shah orchestrates the third part of this anthology and just like the first two, there aren’t any major complaints.
Ankahi Kahaniya Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done, there’s always a moment between letting go and attaining closure, this has three of them. It’s a 3/3 (stories) for me as there wasn’t a single moment of dullness throughout. It might speak against your thought process, but it’ll do it in a way that you’ll have to listen to it.
Ankahi Kahaniya Trailer
Ankahi Kahaniya releases on 17 September, 2021.
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For more suggestions read our Bhoot Police Review!