I love anthologies. They are succinct. You may sip them slowly. Or slurp them up in one go. I prefer mysteries but stories about love (ishq) never go out of season.
Feels Like Ishq has a few winners and some budding contenders.
Save the Da(y)te – Not cool enough for Instagram
Written by Monisha Thyagarajan, and directed by Ruchir Arun the film is about a runaway bride. Her glamorous best friend Avni (Radhika Madan) is flabbergasted when she can’t find the bride-to-be. The euphemistic social media influencer kidnaps the jaded wedding planner Jay (Amol Parashar ) to find the missing ‘Pranav ki biwi aur Chopras’ ki bahu’ before the band baaja and baraat arrive. Netflix viewers are gobbling up extravagant Indian weddings but this “short” exposes the neurotic backstory. What is the bride really afraid of? Or who is getting married hidden behind the beaded “sehra”?
We never find out, but we witness the girl with 50,000 followers throw another person’s phone into the water! And they forget to pick up the priest. In the end, it is a wild goose chase down the Mandovi river.
#Millennial da(y)ting issues?!
Quaranteen Crush – A delightful teenage friendship
Director Tahira Kashyap Khurrana and writer Ghazal Dhaliwal concoct a light-hearted plot. Teenager Maninder (Mihir Ahuja) is a budding rapper but has a humdrum life — no cell phones, low grades in English, no time to practice his guitar, tinda and kaddu sabzi for lunch, and making cheesy videos of his mother’s recipes.
His life takes a thrilling turn on the arrival of a Canadian visitor (Kajol Chugh). She is under a 15-day Covid quarantine in the house across from them. Maninder sneakily hijacks the young lady’s texts to his unsuspecting mother. He kills not two but four birds with one flourish. He passes on his lunch to her. They watch movies at night projected on the brick wall. They collaborate to make cute Punjabi/English rap music across the street. The ambiance of homes with open terraces conjured up my childhood memories of Punjab. As did the paper plane messages. Refreshing minus the dad’s profession!
Star Host – Magic of Mahabaleshwar
Aditya (Rohit Saraf) lists his parents’ cottage in Mahabaleshwar Chateau Tranquil into an Airbnb to garner a few extra bucks. He is not hurting for money but he needs to save up for his dream vacation. Aditya is taken aback when Tara (Simran Jehani) arrives alone, having broken up with her travel companion/boyfriend. She is bursting with phobias, allergies, and insecurities, and is out of place in the rustic mountain sanctuary. Aditya who is only interested in his payment and reviews is nonplussed by her attitude. But the scenic vistas spill into the characters’ spirits and they are humanized. A late-night dinner at the Parsi restaurant was an unexpected treat! Directed by none other than my favorite Anand Tiwari and written by Saurabh George Swamy, this short casts a spell!
She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not – Eternal angst
What’s worse than falling for someone straight? Falling for someone queer who is out of your league. The inimitable Muskaan has a crush on her coworker, the dazzling Tarasha (Saba Azad). They are faced with the eternal question. All crushes have asked ‘ Does she/he/they love me, does she/he/they love me not? A modern-day Jane Austen romantic conundrum, if you please.
Interview – Luck by Chance or Devise
There may be thousands waiting to give an interview for a sales job in India, but when Shahana with Tabu-like dancing eyes and an armful of helpful hints meets the inexperienced Rajeev (Neeraj Madhav), Lady Luck grins! How do they come together in the waiting room?
Shahana is quite a nerd. Her inspiration journal reminds me of my childhood diaries brimming with to-do lists. The couple venture into an electronics showroom to garner practical experience. He gets the job and she doesn’t. But both are winners. The girl who reveals her personal tragedy without talking about it finds a new love by chance.
Ishq Mastana – Upside Down/Outside In
Meher, an overenthusiastic environmental activist, is insistent that Kabir meet her friends. He appears to be distracted and wants to chill over a coffee. He is thrown in the middle of a hodge-podge student rally without his volition. The couple is thronged by many student activists chanting slogans, waving placards, and protesting. Barricades, cops, scuffles lead to police arrests. Kabir is very uncomfortable. Kabir and Meher are at odds. Their conversations are stifling and one-ended. The budding romance becomes even more improbable. At dusk, the environmental activists trek back from the outskirts of Bombay where the police van has dropped them. As they share sandwiches, chocolates, and apples, there is a surge of collective spirit. They break into an impromptu ghazal from Rock On 2 inspired by Kabir. This ignites a flame of love. Or does it? Ask Kabir.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Monita Soni grew up in Mumbai, India, and works as a pathologist in Alabama. She is well known for her creative nonfiction and poetry pieces inspired by family, faith, food, home, and art. She has written two books: My Light Reflections and Flow through my Heart. She is a regular contributor to NPR’s Sundial Writers Corner.