Ankahi Kahaniya REVIEW: Abhishek, Zoya, Kunal, Rinku and Delzad’s nuanced performance in Netflix anthology is worth a watch

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Directors – Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Abhishek Chaubey, Saket Chaudhary

Cast – Kunal Kapoor, Zoya Hussain, Rinku Rajguru, Delzad Hiwale, Abhishek Banerjee, Nikhil Dwivedi, Palomi

Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3.5 stars

Stories of self-emancipation, urban loneliness, and struggling with self-identity often get missed in our fast-paced lives. We might claim to understand it, but more often than not we fail to understand where all of it stems from. It is usually dismissed as ‘pagalpan’ but no one really pauses to acknowledge the unsettled feelings, and hence, they mostly remain ‘untold’. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Abhishek Chaubey, and Saket Chaudhary, the three stalwarts come together for Netflix’s new anthology ‘Ankahi Kahaniya’ to tell three different untold stories. The common thread between the three stories? Lonely souls discovering surprising connections and companionship.

While the Abhishek Banerjee starrer deals with the loneliness and unsettling feeling one grapples with when they move to a new city, the second starring Rinku Rajguru and Delzad Hiwale focuses more on the feeling of being Alone despite being surrounded by people, wanting to break away and escape reality. The third story, with Zoya Hussain, Kunal Kapoor in central roles, deals with the feeling of abandonment in a loveless marriage and self-identity crisis.

Kudos to Ashwiny Iyer Tiwary for portraying the nuances of urban loneliness to Abhishek Banerjee’s character so beautifully and poignantly. From the prism of Pradeep (Abhishek), you get to experience how it feels to have no one around to talk to in a new city. To feel drained and exhausted with the daily chores, with hardly anyone to share your feelings with. Pradeep is a salesperson in a store in Mumbai, who is afraid of initiating any conversation, who watches videos on phone whilst eating, to put aside his loneliness for a brief period. Abhishek brings various layers to Pradeep with ease which is impeccable. You instantly feel emphatic and understand why he is perhaps more comfortable speaking to a mannequin, his ANGEL in disguise, than a real person. The excellence of each scene, backed by powerful dialogues, somber monologues, sets it apart from the other two stories. The cinematographer again needs a special mention for capturing the dilemma, the abstract sense of feeling empty with an empathetic approach.

 

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Next, we see Rinky Rajguru and Delzad Hiwali in a rather unique setup by Abhishek Chaubey. Nandu (Delzad) is a poor boy with an ailing father, who does various jobs to meet the day’s end. His reality is far grimmer than you can think of. He cleans public washrooms, sells vada pav, and works as a part-time ticket assistant at a single-screen theatre. On the other hand, we have Manjari (Rinku), who lives with her family but is almost an outcast. She finds a ray of hope and her ‘hero’ in Nandu and vice versa. Soon both of them bridge the gap and look forward to seeing each other on their movie dates, or strolls amid nature, in a desperate attempt to find solace and escapism from their harsh reality. They find a connection between themselves, the desire for a better future. The story paces well and gives us a glimpse of how the reality of one’s situation and the need for escapism, make you feel more abandoned than not. Rinku and Delzad are phenomenal in their portrayal and the screenplay works well too. However, I felt it could have been easily trimmed by 5-7 minutes which would have made it crisper.

 

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The last story by Saket Chaudhary stars Zoya Hussain and Kunal Kapoor and shows the reality of today’s marital situation. Saket tells us the complexities of a modern-day marriage setup with Tanu Mathur (Zoya) and Manav Kapoor (Kunal Kapoor), two individuals married to their respective partners Arjun and Natasha. Tanu finds out that Arjun has been cheating on her with Natasha, who happens to be Manav’s wife. In a desperate attempt to right her husband’s wrong and understand why this even happened, she meets Manav. Together, they try to dissect and understand what must have led to their partner’s infidelity. Through conversations and Tanu’s desperate attempt to save her marriage, we see a sense of abandonment she feels after years of marriage. Manav, on the other hand, is more practical and is emptier than you could see him from the surface. His failure has cost him his marriage which has been subtly exuded onscreen. Kudos to Saket for not over-exaggerating and showing infidelity as a crime. This is a new way of looking at something as serious as cheating. Zoya and Kunal mostly are speaking to each other throughout but the screenplay is interesting and keeps you invested. You understand the insecurities and the self-identity crisis the duo faces through their conversations.

The almost 2-hour anthology gives you a vivid experience that will stay with you for a while. Don’t miss it.

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