There is something in the air of February that has a cozy little feeling to it in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, a day when couples look to spend quality time with each other while singles are on the lookout for love. And while I do not quite believe that love needs to be compartmentalized in a single day, I can’t help but think that the vibe of the day is warm and tender if I were to think about it. The vibe of the day is extended even to the OTT world wherein the platforms either promote some of the choicest content in the romantic space or launch shows around the theme of love. And if it was The Romantics last year from the prestigeous production house of YRF, it is Love Storiyaan, a 6 part anthology documentary from the house of Dharma and lead by Soumen Mishra who I believe is doing a stunning job with the production house.
As far as anthologies are concerned, we have been witness to the Modern Love franchise which is centered around the theme of love based on news letter clippings. But the concept of anthology documentaries is quite a new genre in itself, and I liked how Amazon Prime has been pushing boundaries with the documentaries that are being churned out on the OTT giant. And I decided to bring in this Valentine’s Day by watching and reviewing Love Storiyaan(based on real life stories of the India Love Project) that promised to be six happily ever afters that would gently tug the strings of my heart. So then does Love Storiyaan manage to impress, let’s find out in our standard Anthology template. Here I must say on a side note that the music in each of the stories is beautifully composed and acts as a common thread in uniting the tales in the universal language of love!
An Unsuitable Girl
As they say opposites attract in a sea of love but how far would love go to breaking barriers and stereotypes? Set in Delhi, Mumbai and parts of Kerala, A story of a real-life couple Aekta and Ullekh who are poles apart from their upbringing and backgrounds wherein a chance encounter online allows love to bloom. The twist? Aekta is a mother of two having burnt her hands in the institute of marriage previously. Would love still find a way home? The screenplay here is heartfelt tactfully exploring the personalities of the two individuals, both of whom carry a baggage of sorts with respect to their families. Yet, the power of love as we call it is often positive that travels three-fourths of the path across the globe, thereby uniting lovers in the least expected situation possible. And that is what transpired in this beautiful tale that had me invested in the individuals and their journeys with a wide smile on my face. The cupid in the tale being the two canines just had my heart even as I found a few tears trickling down my cheek by the end of the short. On a side notez I enjoyed the back and forth version of the love stories that oscillated between the documentary and the dramatized version. Director Hardik Mehta has such finesse in his storytelling that allows the viewers to engage with the characters in the most heartwarming way possible. And yes, Aekta and Ullekh have my heart❤.
Love On Air
Can love blossom when we least expect it and at the most unassuming settings? The setting shifts to the beautiful landscape of Shillong in the North-East wherein we are introduced to a sweet couple – Nick and Rajani as they account their love story over the radio. As usual, love has a different sort of a baggage here with Nick being a Christian and already opting out of his previous marriage while Rajani being a Hindu and dating someone else. A chance encounter involving a visually disabled woman deciding to play cupid by coaxing Rajani to play a prank on Nick over the radio, sets the tone for the rest of the drama to follow. And it is the smaller tender moments that truly touch your heart in the warmest way possible, particularly the bits also involving Rajani’s parents wherein her mother is the cutest! But what is love if you don’t have to drown in a sea of fire? Love is never easy and it takes a lot of work day in and day out which is showcased in the slightly rocky relationship of Nick and Rajani. But the finale is just so emotional that would make even a heart of stone melt while embracing the magic of love. Director Vivek Sonni is subtle and nuanced in his approach while allowing the story to unfold in a layered manner without compromising on its emotions. Also, Nick and Rajani have my heart❤.
What is more beautiful in love than watching a couple growing old together while being beside each other in a beautiful tale of love and companionship? Set in Kolkata and parts of Bangladesh, a story of a real life couple Sunit and Sharmila(aka Farida), all of 71 and 73 years of age respectively, as they go on a bittersweet nostalgic ride by re-visiting the places in theur homeland where love blossomed between them for the first time. The twist in their love story is attributed to their religious differences that did not set well with their respective families, both of which were well off. But who can win against a couple who are madly in love with each other? The story here is so relevant especially in times that we live in, where religious intolerance in slowly creeping in the veins of people across the globe. With wars transpiring everywhere, this love story filled with sacrifice is an inspiration to many, of sticking by one another which would overcome multiple obstacles along the way. The design of the narrative itself was emotional given that there was a nostalgic connect as the old couple revisited the places and their homes while reuniting with their families that once did not wish to talk to them. There is always time for a fresh start I guess? Director Shazia Iqbal(whose short film Bebaak on Jio Cinema I would highly recommend) is so graceful in bringing out the unfiltered emotions of this emaculate love story that stays with you, long after the short has ended. One of the most beautiful love stories that I have been witness to! Also, Sumit Sir and Sharmila Mam have my heart❤. I could promise my eyes welled up multiple times throughout the narrative.
Raah Sangharsh Ki
Does Love differentiate between the caste of a person before deciding to let sparks fly? Set in Madhya Pradesh, the story of a real life couple Subhadra and Rahul who fall in love in the most unassuming setting while working for an NGO for the tribal folks. The twist in the tale? Subhadra belongs to the Dalit community who is unfortunately looked down upon in our society even today. I liked how the story touched upon the educational aspects of the couple while highlighting the fact that nothing really matters when love finds a way to blossom. Even the hardships of the couple were appropriately highlighted while I wished that the story would be allowed to linger on for a little more time. Director Akshay Indikar brings forth this relevant love story with utmost sincerity and honesty thereby ensuring that this love story feels like a warm hug. Also, Rahul and Subhadra have my heart❤.
Can love break boundaries and does distance allow love to thrive in a stronger manner? Set in parts of Russia, Afghanistan, Kashmir(for shooting purpose) and Kerala, a story of a real life couple Homayon and Dhanya who happened to fall in love with each other against the geo-political setting of Afghanistan during its then Taliban rule in the 90s. The story here is warm while addressing an important facet of love, that love can indeed transcend into boundaries while distance makes a person long for love even more. I liked how the story unfolds, focusing on the two individuals till the point that they are married, to suddenly changing the setting by unfolding the drama in the war-torn country of Afghanistan. The struggles of the setting never got in the way of love, instead making the bond stronger even when hope was fast diminishing in the darkness of uncertainty. And this story was also an epitome of how love would always manage to win against even a collective form of hate. Director Archana Phadke beautifully highlights the importance of the relationship between the individuals. Also, Homayon and Dhanya have my heart❤.
Love Beyond Labels
What is love if not for inclusivity? Even as we fondly talk about the love story of some wonderful people around us, love is always inclusive and never differentiates between the individuals based on their sex. Set in Kolkata, a story of a real-life couple Dipan and Tista belonging to the LGBTQIA community who cross paths and fall in love. I continue to believe that the community is often looked down upon usually due to the stereotypes based on their representation in cinema. But at the same time, I do see times changing for the better(even if it is marginal) where there is awareness and acceptance creeping in. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for folks trapped in a body that would often be a sort of a prison. And the story here highlights the tale of two such beautiful souls who went through this dilemma before finding solace in each other. The story is nuanced while continuing to be emotional wherein you consistently root for the individuals to meet at the end. And this happily ever after was one to savour and cherish. Director Collin D’Cunha is sensitive in dealing with this beautiful love story while not compromising on the underlying emotions that account for a warm embrace at the end, may with a tear or two as well. And, Dipan and Tista have my heart❤.
Love Storiyaan comprises of 6 heartfelt happily ever afters filled with joy, tears and inclusivity that would gently tug the strings of your heart on Valentine’s Day thereby making it a brilliant watch. Available on Amazon Prime and Highly Recommended.