STREAMING: LAWS OF ATTRACTION – Journal
Tuesdays and Fridays
The desperation of the Pakistani public to watch anything from Bollywood is sometimes appalling and pitiful. Take into account Exhibit A: Tuesdays and Fridays, a film that sets a record low bar for dumb home cinema that sits at number four on the Netflix charts.
Released in February and produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali (what was the guy thinking?), This laborious story fixes its gaze on Sia (2014 Miss India first runner-up, Jhataleka Malhotra), a young lawyer who lives in Mumbai but flies to London for long periods of time, because she is so good that her business allows her to work online.
Her specialty is dealing with clients in the entertainment industry and, being the only handsome guy heroine in the office, she is quickly courted by a famous client. A bit in their dating period, Sia slaps him in the face in the middle of a media rally, and the distraught press calls her a “mysterious girl” who has ridiculed the actor. Yes, in case you were wondering, the press is not investigating because writer Taranveer Singh – who is also the director – felt it was an insignificant point in his story.
Now we can ask ourselves: as a lawyer, wouldn’t it have been better if she had canceled the adventure without damaging the image of her client in the press? Well, the writer provides an explanation very late in the movie, and it’s dumber – and more insignificant – than you might imagine.
The Tuesdays and Fridays produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali are overwhelmed by mundane writing and uninspired directing, while Karan Johar’s adult short film anthology Ajeeb Daastaans may not be groundbreaking but has magnetic performance.
Either way, her knight in shining armor is, once again, another new client Varun (Anmol Dhillon, the son of erstwhile actress Poonam Dhillon – what’s up with her and her clients anyway?), a supposedly beautiful catch that sweeps up and saves women’s day.
Varun writes novels with bad endings that the producers want to change because he hasn’t found true love. I imagine that, because you never see him write anything in the movie, but he sleeps with women who you wouldn’t bring home to meet his mother. For him, true love does not exist… yet. We all know there’s an “yet” to come at the end of the movie.
Varun is a great guy because the movie often gives him scenes that supposedly push that image through (they’re written that way, but executed without finesse). As Sia’s friend, whom he reunites in London, where (surprise, surprise) he also lives, Varun helps change Sia’s half-sister’s intention of losing her virginity to a dweeb.
Sia, although she is close to her sister-in-law, has a non-existent relationship with her father (Parmeet Sethi), who left them to marry another woman; her mother (Nikki Walia), meanwhile, finally decided to remarry a nice boy. Somehow, Sia and Varun decide to test their growing attraction, and the heroine, being the intelligent lawyer, sets some rules that favor the end of her relationship. Highlights of their contract are: they’ll only come out on Tuesdays and Fridays, and are free to be with anyone the rest of the week. There would be no kiss until the third date and, of course, given how progressive India has become, one can guess where that takes a relationship these days – especially in the movies.
Sia’s friend (Nayan Shukla) has always pushed her to be more physical around men; questions of the heart will follow… or they may not – and that’s the gist of this movie. The “ Tuesdays and Fridays ” deal is valid for seven weeks, after which Gen Z youth (they’re not millennials) can dissolve the relationship.
A few background stories are resolved, but they don’t make us feel anything for the characters. With banal writing, uninspired staging, passable performances and bad music, one wonders about the taste of Pakistani audiences – or lack thereof.
Karan Johar, it seems, has found a personal niche by exploring short topics and anthologies. Ajeeb Daastaans, produced by K-Jo, and which ranks No. 1 in Pakistan’s Netflix charts, is a nearly two-and-a-half-hour set of four stories about love, lust, angst and jealousy.
The first story is Majnu (director: Shashank Khaitan, Dhadak, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania), which reveals the story of an owner (Jaideep Ahlawat), his promiscuous and sexually repressed wife with whom he did not consummate his marriage ( Fatima Sana Sheikh), and the son of their driver (Armaan Ralhan), a business school graduate, whom she courted.
The second tale, Khilauna (director: Raj Mehta, Good Newwz), is about Meenal (Nushrat Bharucha), a cunning housekeeper who uses her feminine charms to entice the secretary of a wealthy man living in a posh locality (Maneesh Verma ) to give her a job with him. The secretary’s wife is waiting, so the house needs someone to do the chores. The job ticks off the guy from the local laundry (Abhishek Banerjee), who also happens to be Meenal’s lover (judging by the way she treats him, he’s not her friend). Meenal, however, has a one-sided agenda to woo the secretary: she wants to restore power to her hut. A silent witness to everything in this thriller is Meenal’s younger sister.
The third story is Geeli Pucchi (director: Neeraj Ghaywan, Masaan, Sacred Games) about a Dalit worker (back caste) working in a factory (Konkona Sen Sharma) who does not have many opportunities to climb the ranks. , and her somewhat innocent superior (Aditi Rao-Hyderi), with whom she shares a love-hate relationship with strong bisexual connotations.
The last of the bunch – also the best performed and directed – is Ankahi (director Kayoze Irani, son of Boman Irani; chubby friend of Student of the Year). This half-silent story is about a woman (Shefali Shah) who often fights with her husband (Tota Roy Chowdhury) because he does not reach out to their teenage daughter (Sara Arjun), who is losing his hearing. Fed up with fights, she befriends and then has a sexual adventure with a deaf photographer (Manav Kaul) with a lively personality.
Anthologies and short films are the latest trend in Pakistan and India these days, but often they are poorly designed or unsatisfactory; surprisingly, those in this film are cleverly crafted with deep sub-texts of angst, self-mockery, envy, and lust. In almost every story, you can sense a timely boiling point approaching ahead of time, but the big revelations – at least for me – are often easily deductible from the start.
There’s also a strong agenda of indulging one’s fleshly desires pushed into Bollywood fare these days – carnal desires, mind you, that have nothing to do with love and romance. In a movie like Ajeeb Daastaans, where the stories have adult themes, that’s somewhat acceptable. However, it’s not that their inclusion – sometimes represented graphically – is really necessary to tell these stories convincingly.
The anthology, on the whole, is good – especially because of the magnetic performances in Ankahi – but it’s not revolutionary, nor even this novel.
Streaming now on Netflix on Tuesdays and Fridays is rated 13+ (really, Netflix? I would give it 16+ for adult themes), while Ajeeb Dastaans is rated 18+ for sexual content and language.
Posted in Dawn, ICON, May 2, 2021