After anthologies like Lust Stories, Ghost Stories and Unpaused, it seems directors are enjoying the-to-three-hour watch and offer variety in content. Yet another anthology, Ajeeb Daastaans will be releasing on April 16 on Netflix. Backed by Karan Johar it brings together a team of known directors – Shashank Khaitan, Raj Mehta, Neeraj Ghaywan and Kayoze Irani, to dish out a strange combination of ‘stories’ and has an ensemble cast of proven gems of OTT, from Shefali Shah of Delhi Crime to Jaideep Ahlawat and Abhishek Banerjee in Paatal Lok to Manav Kaul last seen in Saina and Nail Polish, seasoned actress Konkona Sen Sharma, and some in never-seen-before avatars such as Fatima Sana Shaikh, Nushrratt Bharuccha and Aditi Rao Hydari.
Produced under the digital branch of Dharma production, Dharmatic creations, Ajeeb Dastaans, offers twists in all the four stories, a thing that goes hand-in-hand with its twisted characters.
In the story, Khilauna, directed by Raj Mehta, Nushrratt will be portraying the role of a single mother mother struggling to make both ends meet, the most unglamourous character she had ever portrayed on screen. Talking about her role, she jokes, “The director had made me mop floors at my own house to get into the skin of my character. I use to talk to my house help to expose myself to their way of talking.” Opposite her, Abhishek, who had his fair share of real-world-problems while playing a migrant worker in the anthology, Unpaused, commends the child actor, Inayat Verma. He adds, “Inayat has amazed us the way she played her character and both Nushrratt and I were in awe when she delivered her shots so easily. I believe as an adult and an actor at the same time, somethings need to be unlearned or forget while playing a character which is easier for a child.” As far as his role of a washerman is concerned, he says what he took home as a lesson was how to fold his clothes.
With the anthology, Kayoze Irani, son of Boman Irani, steps into direction with his short story, Ankahi. While he confirms that he always wanted to work behind-the-camera than on camera, he calls his Student of The Year and other movies experience as an actor a learning curve in many ways. While Shefali and Manav had to learn sign language to portray their roles, Kayoze calls it a delight to work with the actors who were encouraging each other. He adds, “I said yes to it for my directional debut because Ankahi is about unsaid emotions. It proves that communication doesn’t need to be verbal and a lot can be said without words.” About her experience, Shefali adds, “I had already told Kayoze that the closing shot be on him for he was doing a great job. I on the other hand wasn’t confident about my sign language and was it going right. Needless to say, I enjoyed playing this role.”
The story, Geeli Pucchi, is Neeraj Ghaywan’s long-held word and idea which came to reality with Ajeeb Daastaans. And choosing the best to say this story, he has Konkona Sen Sharma, who plays a factory worker and Aditi Rao Hydari, a house-wife who is still unsure how to embrace her homosexuality. Aditi says, “I enjoyed playing this character which explores the intersectional realities of the two women and bringing those emotions to life is not possible unless you understand them. Konkona and have approached our characters differently and brought our own energies in to the act which was much-needed then planning and discussing it together.”
Jaideep Ahlawat can be seen in intense character in Shashank’s Majnu which revolves around three characters, and the strange relationship they have each other. The anthology overall is packed with some heavy dialogues, But the way ‘Majnu’ stands out, justifies the grandeur of its title. Revolving around love, jealousy, betrayal and guns are the characters, Jaideep, Fatima and Armaan Ralhan. After Ludo, Fatima is playing the wife again, but mind you, she takes no nonsense and is as fierce as she was in the climax of Ludo. She adds, “My character has the guts to say what she believes in and although we all have some societal limitations in the storyline, it would be fun for the audience to see how the twists unfolds.”