Andaleeb Wajid’s 2016 YA novel Asmara’s Summer is the source for Prime Video’s latest youth-oriented rom-com Dil Dosti Dilemma.

Asmara (Anushka Sen) is a tone-deaf teenager from upscale Bengaluru whose life revolves around shopping and hanging out with her best friends Tania and Naina. The “Awesome Threesome” share snobbery, privilege and a limited worldview. Things go belly up when, to her horror, Asmara’s lies result in the cancellation of her summer in Canada. Her punishment is a staycation with her conservative grandparents in the compact middle-class neighbourhood of Bengaluru's Tibri Road.

Asmara's mother (Shruti Seth) wants to bring her spoiled daughter on track and have her connect with her own unassuming roots and earnest family values. But Asmara is determined to rebel against her grandparents and their gossipy community. Her grandmother (Tanvi Azmi) is concerned about “what will people say”, whereas her grandfather (Shishir Sharma) is more liberal in his outlook. Worried about keeping up appearances with her fancy friends, Asmara maintains a ruse that she is indeed in Canada.

Anushka Sen and Tanvi Azmi in Dil Dosti Dilemma (2024). Courtesy Ten Years Younger Productions/Prime Video.

Not only does the generation gap between Asmara and her grandparents narrow, but also her affection for Tibri Road and its residents starts growing, particularly towards Faraaz (Kush Jotwani) and Rukshana (Vishakha Pandey), the grandchildren of her neighbor (Suhasini Mulay). The smart and sassy Asmara finds new purpose and forges romantic as well as filial bonds.

While the focus is Asmara’s rite of passage, the narrative occasionally shifts to Tania (Elisha Mayor) and Naina (Revathi Pillai), who are dealing with their own first world problems. Some threads of the plot are left dangling, such as those about the boy named Nikhil, the nerdy intern Dhruv who challenges Tania to wake up and smell the coffee, an extramarital affair and a threat to the future of Tibri Road.

Writers Anuradha Tiwari, Bugs Bhargava Krishna, Raghav Dutt and Manjiri Pupala stay loyal to rom-com tropes with some smart one-liners here and there. “Jab dua kaam nahin aati, tab dhuaan kaam aata hai,” says a harridan with a hookah. (When prayers don’t work, a smoke is useful.)

Director Debbie Rao leans on filmy cliches in the use of neighbouring rooftops as the rendezvous for burgeoning romance, secret ballads as code for clandestine meetings and a thin plot for an elopement. While Rao brings out the best in her young cast, led by Sen with fitting support from Jotwani, Pillai and Mayor, Vishakha Pandey needed to turn it down a notch as the over-enthusiastic Rukhsana.

Sen and Jotwani make a cute pair – in spite of the height difference – and convincingly convey the playful flirtation of young love that’s trying to bridge social and class divides. Azmi and Sharma are on point as the textbook old-school grandparents.

Seven episodes later, one feels invested in the little wins, little losses and big gestures initiated and experienced by the characters. Dil Dosti Dilemma is a low-cal, feel-good entertainer that gradually draws you in, just the way Asmara is drawn into Tibri Road.

Dil Dosti Dilemma (2024).

Also read:

Asmara’s Summer: Is this a reason teenagers lie – so as not to look uncool?