By the time I was watching the third short film in the 2021 Netflix short-film anthology ‘Feels Like Ishq’, my hands were on my head, exasperated with the pretentious emotions of a privileged brat of a girl doing her first ‘solo trip’ to make her ex-boyfriend ‘jealous’. Ugh.
Only two out of the six films were worth the watch, everything else made me hit the ‘fast-forward’ button, especially the first one starring Radhika Madan called ‘Save The Da(y)te’, where the makers try too hard to be ‘cool’, but the story is as old as old can be – bride gets cold feet on her wedding day and runs off to who knows where. It’s up to the best friend to find her before all hell breaks loose, so she catches hold of a guy (Amol Parashar) and the two go bride-hunting. Radhika was dazzling in her little cameo in ‘Ray’, another Netflix anthology, however, in ‘Feels Like Ishq’, not so much. While visually, the first short looks great, it’s shot in the scenic Goa, and the transitions are very artsy, but the story is just ‘blah’. The banter between Amol & Parasahar sounds scripted AF and is almost cringe-y. And the less said about the runaway bride, the better.
Okay, maybe we should take a break from all the negative opinion and talk about the best short film in this anthology. The fifth one titled ‘Interview’ was the clear winner of them all, largely due to lead actors Neeraj Madhav & Zayn Marie Khan, who play two rival candidates up for a sales job at an electronics showroom. While this short film had the simplest plot, it only goes on to prove that you don’t need complex twists or ‘cool’ dialogues to make a movie work. Zayn as a confident ambitious Mumbai girl and Madhav as a Mallu boy trying to make a living in the city of dreams are matched to perfection. The two light up the screen with their easy chemistry as two strangers who bond before their job interview.
The other short film that seemed heart-felt was ‘She Love Me, She Loves Me Not’. Again, its the easy charm of the two lead actors – Saba Azad and Sanjeeta Bhattacharya – that makes it an interesting watch. Although, the story is sweet and quite layered for a half-hour show. Sanjeeta plays the bisexual Muskaan crushing on her new pretty colleague Tarasha (Saba Azad) who is openly gay. While there are some exaggerated & funny moments in this plot, viewers might enjoy the quirky balance of funny stereotypes & serious insights into the lives of queer people. So on one hand, Muskaan tries to convey her sexuality by ‘dressing like a lesbian’, Tarasha talks of how her ex-girlfriend was an abusive prick and that all is not hunky dory with lesbian couples. It ends on a predictable but sweet romantic note and definitely felt like ‘ishq’.
‘Quarantine Crush’, the second short starts off cute, but soon gets boring. It’s about a young boy who crushes on his newly arrived neighbor from Canada, who he immediately looks up on social media and keeps staring at from his window. While the girl is self-isolating, the two strike up a socially-distanced friendship. A simple enough story, but the actors aren’t able to carry their roles off. Again, it all felt a little too scripted, like the first one. The last short ‘Ishq Mastana’ was the most pretentious and skippable of the lot; fast-forwarded most of it. Maybe some people think a protest rally is a fun idea for a date with someone they don’t know, but it just doesn’t hit right on the screen.
Overall, this anthology has a mixed take on love, even though a lot of it is overwhelmingly simplified. It’s a 6/10 from me.