Film Review: Dus Kahaniyaan


Film: Dus Kahaniyaan

Directors: Apoorva Lakhia, Hansal Mehta, Jasmeet Dhodi, Meghna Gulzar, Sanjay Gupta, Rohit Roy

Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Sunil Shetty, Nana Patekar, Neha Uberoi, Dino Morea, Arbaaz Khan, Anoop Soni, Amrita Singh, Aftab Shivdasani, Neha Dhupia, Apoorva Lakhia, Mandira Bedi, Masumi Makhija, Rohit Roy, Anuradha Patel, Manoj Bajpai, Dia Mirza, Tareena Patel, Jimmy Shergill, Sudhanshu Pandey, Naseruddin Shah, Anita Hasnandani, Vishwajeet Pradhan, Anupam Kher, Mahesh Manjrekar, Parmeet Sethi, Minissha Lamba, Shabana Azmi

Producer: Sanjay Dutt and Sanjay Gupta

Rating: 3/5

After a series of dazzling blockbusters last month comes a film that is a kaleidoscope of stories, emotions, experiences and poignant moments. Sanjay Gupta’s ambitious and pet-project, ‘Dus Kahaniyan’ walks the razor edge of being a melting pot of different genres but comes up as a finely balanced array of diverse stories told with panache.

‘Dus Kahaniyan’ is an anthology of ten films by six directors which run one after the other and are separate entities in themselves. On a macro level, although they seem to be connected by a similarity in vision, each film is a dedicated voice of its maker in his/her own style.

The best attribute of this assemblage is the fact that it lives upto its name. It is about stories, and that’s all. The seemingly intriguing experiment of putting together ten stories and not connecting them visually or otherwise holds a simple desire to tell powerful stories with a human interest. Stories that reach out and speak heart to heart. Each story, though in a different genre is about humans and humanity, love (not necessarily romantic) and relationships. This is what makes the improbable experiment palatable.

Thoughtful deliberation in the selection of stories has ensured that the resultant package is a melange rather than a pot-pourri. Touching all shades of life and exploring a wide variety of human emotions in different situations makes for a complete experience even though a compartmentalised one.

If there is ‘Matrimony’ laying bare the widths and depths of relationships there is ‘Rice Plate’ questioning the basis of all beliefs that we term basic to our lives. If ‘High on the highway’, ‘Rise and Fall’ and ‘Zahir’ portray the bizarre sense of humour life has in a surreal style, there is ‘Gubbare’ and ‘Pooranmashi’ depict the sensitive and vulnerable side of the same life. Supernatural too enmeshes itself to complete the circle that life represents with a sensually scary tale in ‘Sex on the beach’ and a melodramatic tale of destined lovers in ‘Lovedale’. ‘Strangers in the night’, by far the best film of the lot, surpasses all by entwining beliefs, marriage, trust, humanity, relationships in a gripping combination to make a supremely interesting moral lesson.

Each film in this combination package has its own form. Those directed by Sanjay Gupta are slick and typically stylised. Meghna Gulzar, once again, delivers a sensitive tale of two women whose fates deliver a deadly blow accenting the precariousness of choices one is allowed to make and questioning how much freedom does a woman really have. Rohit Roy makes his superb directorial debut with a brilliantly cast Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi in ‘Rice Plate’, a tale subverting religious orthodoxy in an ever-so-gentle way. Hansal Mehta’s ‘High on the Highway’, a tale of twisted fates, is tantalizing in the sway it holds over you with its tease and shock. The only two films that disappoint in this ensemble are Apoorva Lakhia’s ‘Sex on the beach’ and Jasmeet Dodhi’s ‘Lovedale’. Whereas the former lacks a strong motive and impact, the latter lacks innovation and depth. Despite the two, the overall impression the films make is meaningful with moments and messages and treatment all geared towards telling a story well.

Despite the unique differences in each film, the slickness of cinematography, editing patterns and story-telling bespeak Sanjay Gupta who is known for his racy style of film-making. As is claimed he has given substance more importance and the array of films here successfully depict that the marriage of technique, style and story is a happy union after all and each existing individually exist incomplete. 

The unusual yet tried-before experiment of putting assorted stories together is a brave attempt at taking onerous creative liberties and risking one’s market credibility. Any experiment in Bolly-land typically attracts only those initiated and the acclimatized to experimental cinema. ‘Dus Kahaniyan’, though, has a richer experience for the average uninitiated Joe than most sub-standard fare floating around does. The reception of this experiment could be the litmus test of how open or mature the audiences getting. 

If you revel in the smaller things of life rather than enamoured with the obvious, if novelty with quality attracts you more than pomp, show and empty colours then probably Dus Kahaniyan is for you. Try it, if for nothing than just for the sake of it.