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Feels Like Ishq Review: It Feels Right , Light  & Bright

Feels Like Ishq (Anthology  of  6 Stories)

Seasons
Director
Plot
Short films follow young adults as they navigate the gamut of emotions that come with finding romantic connection in unexpected places.

Rating: ***

Feels Like Ishq Review: The  element  of  surprise  in this ambrosial  anthology is  that there  is  no surprise. It follows  the   course of  six   love relationships with an indulgent smile and a genuine love for that  bewildering emotion called love.

Feels Like Ishq feels right,  light and bright. It is  not  an anthology consumed by passion or eager to  juice  serious attempts  out of the  fruits of  virgin passion. A strand of innocence runs through the stories . In one  of  the stories  the  boy halts in his tracks and asks the girl, “So…do we  kiss now?”

Cute. The meet-cute encounters and  the  strikingly  svelte silhouettes of first love  run through the stories. The exception is t e first story Save  The Dayte(sic.) about a runaway  bride  whose best friend Avani(Radhika Mohan) and the wedding planner Jay(Amol Parasher) get together in a convertible(with a bottle  to  go, of course)   to get the bride back before the shubh mahurat ends. Sadly the story’s  shubh mahurat never arrives. This one feel strangely strained with  Radhika Mohan doing a Kangna and Tapsee combined, and Amol Pareshar  trying to find a grip over the  slippery  goings-on. I wish Radhika  would  speak her dialogues  more clearly. As  for  director Ruchir Arun,  there is  a spark here. But it’s mostly lost  in  a babble of  overacting and  ‘F’  words.

Tahira Kashyap’s Khurrana Quaranteen Crush is more confident  about its  intentions.  Her story  is  about a  virginal teenager Maninder(Mihir Ahuja, earnest) who  hasn’t even got his own phone as yet,  and must woo  the new girl(in braces, why?)   in the  house  across the  lane Nimmi(Kajol Chugh) on his mother(Kavita Pais, amusing)  ’s phone. Despite the  ‘Bra’ jokes being too in-your-face the  two youngsters  in this film with their social-distancing antics  give the story  a fresh fertile feel missing  in  some  of the  other stories. As a  bonus we  get songs by  the director’s star husband Ayushmann Khurrana, though they(the songs) don’t feel right. It’s like having sex just because there is  a box of condoms in  the drawer.

The  third story Star Host has a very sincere young hero Aditya(Rohit Saraf)  taking on a  vacationing guest  Tara(Simran  Jehani)  while his parents are on  a pilgrimage.  Of course   the inevitable   happens. Directors Anand Tiwari makes  good use of the Mahabaleshwar visuals . The conversations feel right and one sequence  to do with a pair of boxer shorts is smile-worthy.  But dialogues like, ‘Let bygones be bygones…bye, I’m gone’ don’t really say anything  except that the  director is  trying to be  clever. The actors playing  Saraf’s best friend and  the female restaurateur  are  impressive.(No  elaborate  credit details were provided  by Netflix in spite of repeated requests).

Danish Aslam’s  queer film She Loves  Me She Loves Me  Not  has an endearing female lead Sanjeeta Bhattacharya. But the material is as  muddled as the  protagonist and  the storytelling has  serious  pacing problems. While  Sanjeeta’s Muskan  will make you smile(this girl is  a find) the supporting cast is  quite awful. There is Muskan’s boss who  pronounces Cannes with a ‘s’ and Muskan’s love interest (played by  Saba Azad) who is supposed to be hot and mysterious on paper  but is anything but that on screen.The  dialogues don’t help.  “Never judge  a lesbian by her  cover” ? Huh???I did like Muskan’s mother’s one-liners,though.

My favourite   of the anthology is Interview  , a  burgeoning workingclass romance between two young people waiting to be  interviewed  for the same job as a sales  representative. This  story resonates  with  an understated tragic  grandeur. The  lead pair Zayn Marie Khan  and Neeraj Madhav  is  persuasive  in  bringing out the  inherent  dignity  of that under-ambitious   section of  the  middleclass   which  thinks a  salary  of  Rs 15,000  is a windfall. Director Sachin Kundelkar  gives this story a feeling of distant despair and  obtainable  hope. I  want to see this  couple in a full-length  feature  film.

The  final story Ishq Mastana left  me scratching my  head. The female  protagonist Mehr(Taniya Maniktala from  Mira Nair’s  A Suitable Boy)   is  a designer-activist. The hero Kabir(Skand Thakkur)   is a rich spoilt brat who  agrees to a protest-date( he  meets  her while she is demonstrating in a protest march)  as  a “rebound fuck”:  he is just been dumped by his  girlfriend. By the end  of the day Kabir is singing protest songs  and  accompanying the  khadi  gang to their next  barricade breaking mission. Reform is  welcome. But  not when  it feels like  a rabbit being  pulled  out of a hat. Jaydeep Sarkar’s  direction is not bad.But the  story lacks conviction.  “I  don’t protest to change the world. I do it so that the world doesn’t change me,” says Mehr to Kabir.  Go  figure.

Feels Like Ishq has  a whole lot of loopsholes  and  flaws.  But it gets by.The  series is smart-looking and  reasonably intelligent when  it isn’t busy being trendy and  cool.

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