(IANS Review) 'Love Storiyaan': Real love is so much more fascinating than movie mush (IANS Rating: ***)

Mumbai, Feb 15 (IANS) Love being in the air, we all having had our share of Valentine’s Day, it is the perfect time to delve deeper into the numerous aspects of love, creatively at that.

And who can be better that Karan Johar with his Dharmatic Productions team giving us a cute collection of stories (‘storiyaan’) suffused with the different flavours of six romantic liaisons from different parts of the country.

Released on Amazon Prime Video, ‘Love Storiyaan’ has endearing tales of unusual love blossoming in small and metropolitan cities, involving ordinary people — well, mostly. Dedicated to everyone who has ever loved, lost and was bold enough to fall in love again, the episodes feature inspired stories from Priya Ramani, Niloufer Venkatraman and Samar Halarnkar’s popular Instagram handle #IndiaLoveProject.

An anthology of six short films, this is as diverse as it can get. The construct is deliberately an attempt to look at the differences in social conditioning as also the politics that comes in the way of love from blooming.

It opens with ‘An Unsuitable Girl’, directed by Hardik Mehta, and co-written by Hardik and Mirat Trivedi. It is about a 40-year-old Punjabi divorcee Aekta from Delhi who falls for a Malyali man, Ulekh. The familiar charm unmistakably inherent in the two believable characters who meet in the virtual world as bloggers, is endearing.

Though they disagree a lot, their dissent brings them closer, even if the woman being a mother of two daughters, believes she is beyond the age when people fall in love. Her first marriage was arranged where she played the domesticated role of a devoted wife. She is hesitant the second time around because one of her daughters objects to their relationship.

What follows is a contrived development as the environs of Kerala beckon her. For Aekta, it’s always been her gut feeling that Ulekh is the man for her.

Sunit Kumar Saha and Farida (who becomes Sharmila later) meet in Dhaka and instantly get attracted to each other. Due to bitter opposition from both sets of parents, they move to Kolkata severing ties from their families forever. For the elderly couple, it is love and precisely nothing else that matters.

The ‘Prince of Chandpur’, Sunit, abandons his royal title for his love, Farida Khatun. She, on her part, sacrifices everything she had in order to be able to establish a home in a different country. She lapses into Bangla from time-to-time reminiscing about her youth. And finally, one day, the two decide to take the train to Dhaka to catch some last glimpses of the relatives who are left. Time has played a cruel role and most of their family has passed on.

Akshay Indikar brings to life the story of a gentle Bengali Brahmin, Rahul Banerjee, and a strong-willed Dalit woman, Subhadra Khaperde, who have the onerous task of uplift our society with their revolutionary fervour. Their journey runs up against several obstacles, but together, they are determined to make it.

In Vivek Soni’s story two radio jockeys (RJs) — Rajani and Nicholas — fall for each other in Shillong. A common friend and admirer, Mandira, makes them meet and it is friendship that unites the two first. Gradually, a shy Rajani falls for the flamboyant Nick. Their story hits a hurdle as his marital status as a divorcee and a father comes in the way.

In Archana Phadke’s short, there is an Afghan man, Homayon Khoram, who falls in love with an Indian woman, Dhanya Ravindran (who he thought reminded him of his Bollywood crush Rekha). They too overcome huge religious and cultural barriers to unite.

And as if religion and nationality weren’t enough, it is the Taliban’s control over Afghanistan in 1997 that makes them all the more miserable.

There is also a short on what’s becomes mandatory to portray on streaming platforms — a trans couple, Tista Das and Dipan Chakraborty. It is about their struggle to claim their identity. Collin D’Cunha and co-writer Soumyajit Ghosh Dastidar focus more on the difficult time the two undergo, but sadly, less attention is paid on how their love blossoms.

Jonita Gandhi’s track ‘Aashiyaan’, composed by Shantanu Dutta, sets the mood of the series.

The reason why the stories may work for some is solely because they are all real tales of love. They would make you want to fall in love. And be loved. The romance isn’t fictional and has a relaxed, comfortable, and at times laidback feel, despite the battles the two lovers have to toil with.

If your are looking for more, however, you may end up getting disappointed!

Series: Love Storiyaan (Streaming on Amazon Prime Video)

Episodes 6 (30-36 minutes each)

Directors Hardik Mehta, Vivek Soni, Shazia Iqbal, Rahul Badwelkar, Akshay Indikar, Archana Phadke and Collin D’Cunha



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