"Badrinath Ki Dulhania" writer-director Shashank Khaitan, who is foraying into the digital space with Netflix''s anthology "Ajeeb Daastaans", says it was exciting to write flawed characters, something that''s not always possible in the commercial cinema space. Produced by Karan Johar, the four shorts explore themes of jealousy, entitlement, prejudices and toxicity in modern relationships.
In Khaitan’s short film, "Pataal Lok" star Jaideep Ahlawat and "Dangal" actor Fatima Sana Shaikh play husband and wife with Armaan Ralhan playing the third wheel in the relationship.
“The exciting thing was I was writing characters that I don’t write in normal commercial film setup. Like in commercial films, we don’t want to write too many flawed characters, we want the characters to be straight forward,” Khaitan said during the virtual trailer launch press conference of “Ajeeb Daastaans”.
“So for me it was exciting when I wrote these characters for the short film. They were multi-dimensional characters and we could have a lot of fun with them. The best part was they are all flawed characters... And that’s the beauty, that you chase imperfection rather than chasing perfection,” the 39-year-old director said.
Ahlawat, who has been lauded for his parts in “Pataal Lok”, “Raazi”, “Raees”, “Bard of Blood”, said as an actor he enjoys playing roles that challenge him.
“I have never played a character like this before. When Shashank narrated me the story, for a brief period, I thought I may not be able to do it. Then I thought it is a better opportunity to say such a big thing in a short film and even though it is going to be difficult for actors to portray that onscreen, I was up for the challenge,” Ahlawat said.
His co-star, Shaikh, said she was thrilled to be playing a complex and interesting character for the first time.
“When a person is complex then they are endearing. My character is strong, but at the same time she is weak and vulnerable,” she said.
Khaitan said the medium of short films was quite interesting for him to explore and he thrived on the challenges it posed to him as a writer.
“It is interesting because the writing style changes, you need to immediately think of scenes that are established in your characters, and give a sense of conflict. Basically, what you do in two hours, you have to do that in 30 minutes,” he added.
Besides Khaitan, the other three short stories are directed by Raj Mehta of “Good Newwz” fame, Neeraj Ghaywan and Kayoze Irani.
The cast of the anthology includes Nushrratt Bharuccha, Abhishek Banerjee, Konkona Sensharma, Aditi Rao Hydari, Manav Kaul, Shefali Shah among others.
“Ajeeb Daastaanas” is set to release on April 16.