With OTT finding firm footing, experiments are the order of the day. Anthologies have already started gaining steam. After Lust Stories, there was also Ghost Stories earlier this year. Now on ZEE5, there is an anthology of four romantic thrillers helmed by reputed directors. Two of these short films, lasting around 30-40 minutes each, are now out digitally. Let’s take a look at the first story, Arranged Marriage.
This one comes to the point right at the beginning. There is a gay couple, Ali Fazal and Omkar Kapoor (Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2) and their relationship is going through a roller coaster ride as former’s cousin (Patralekha) is getting married to the latter. They believe that it may actually work out for them eventually since it’s all in the family and hence no one will find out. However, things take a drastic turn when Patralekha, who doesn’t have a high opinion about Ali – especially since he is gay – starts suspecting her husband of being either impotent or gay.
Director Pradeep Sarkar, who has set the short film in Kolkata, neither takes an overtly sensitive approach towards the subject at hand nor does he go all out to bring on a hardcore commercial appeal. Instead, he takes a middle of the road approach, though there are a couple of tracks that do puzzle you a bit. (Spoilers ahead) Firstly, Patralekha visits a brothel no less for her sex education 101 and there is a forced scene of another topless woman that arrives out of nowhere. However, what is even weird is to see the kind of ‘medical advice’ that comes from an ‘angrezon ke zamaane ka doctor’ who believes that homosexuality is a disease that can be cured.
What does catch your attention though are performances by Ali and Omkar. Ali, the man of all seasons, picks this character also quite well and brings on his trademark acting style in place. He is quite good, especially in the scene where he gets drunk and calls Omkar in the dead of the night. On the other hand Omkar keeps it low and brings in a subtle performance, which was needed for this subject. Patralekha is fair, though one would have expected her character graph to be fleshed out a bit better.
All in all, Arranged Marriage does manage to make its point that homosexuality is not a disease, though a bit more conviction, especially in the last 10 odd minutes, could have made this into an even more interesting affair.