Six short stories of around 30 minutes about finding love in the unlikeliest of places make up this Netflix anthology series that tries so hard to be cute that it’s often flimsy.
Love, as we all know, comes in various shapes and forms and often most unexpectedly. There are no mature stories here, but there is a concerted effort to check the boxes. So naturally one episode covers LGBTQ love while another looks at working people and a third is set in a small town.
Ruchir Arun directs Save the Da(y)te. Written by Monisha Thyagarajan, it’s a silly story about Avni (Radhika Madan) who teams up with wedding planner Jay (Amol Parashar) to bring a runaway bride back to her nuptials. Rather than fervently searching for the bride, Avni and Jay spend a great deal of time debating the pros and cons of love, marriage and everything in between.
Their squabble resembles discussion board posts, and they interact like childhood buddies even though they are virtual strangers. Fortunately Parashar’s performance offsets Madan’s overacting and the episode’s girly hysteria.
In Quaranteen Crush, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana directs a script by Ghazal Dhaliwal. A sweet story set during the Covid-19 lockdown, it features Kajol Chugh and Mihir Ahuja as neighbours.
Teenager Maninder develops a crush on his neighbour Nimi, who is in enforced quarantine. They bond over food and music until Maninder has a sudden understanding about how his behaviour and actions verge on the illegal. This intimate coming-of-age story starts warm, fuzzy and funny and ends with optimism and a cautionary note.
When his parents leave him home alone, Aditya (Rohit Saraf) is quick to convert his grand hill station residence into a B&B. When his first guest turns out to be Tara (Simran Jehani), a nervous phobic woman nursing heartbreak and a big attitude problem, Aditya has to pull out all stops to earn a good rating. Saraf’s onscreen charm and Anand Tiwari’s direction give soul and spirit to Star Host.
It’s time for an office romance in writer Sulagna Chatterjee’s She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not, directed by Danish Aslam. As the out and proud Tarasha and the timid and closeted Muskaan, Saba Azad and Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, respectively, share an affectionate chemistry as their characters find love in the workplace.
The most well-etched and emotional segment is Sachin Kundalkar’s The Interview. It follows two young job applicants who meet on interview day. The more experienced woman guides the newbie and offers him tips to overcome his insecurities. Neeraj Madhav and Zayn Khan breathe life into their simple and compassionate characters in a story laced with loss, regret and fear and tied up with hope and kindheartedness.
Jaydeep Sarkar’s Ishq Mastana features Tanya Maniktala and Skand Thakur who make a date to meet during a protest. Their opposing intentions and politics eventually align when defences and facades drop. Better performances would certainly have served this story in which, unlike the other five, has previously acquainted characters.
The Netflix release appears uninspired at times. There is an overuse of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link as a backdrop, and some of the inexperienced actors are unable to keep up with their more practised counterparts. The scripts are also not equally perceptive but all rather sentimental, which should appeal to romantics who believe in meet-cutes and love at first sight.
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