Shashank Khaitan has emerged as one of the most successful young filmmakers and writers, thanks to his massive hits like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Good Newwz and Dil Bechara. Following his huge success in commercial cinema, the director-writer has now ventured into digital space with Netflix’s anthology Ajeeb Daastaans. Shashank says that directing and writing a short film for the web gave him more freedom to write multi-dimensional characters, unlike the commercial cinema space.
Produced by Karan Johar, Ajeeb Daastaans comprises four shorts that dive into the complex themes of fractured relationships and human emotions such as jealousy, entitlement, prejudices and toxicity. Khaitan’s short film, ‘Majnu’, starring Jaideep Ahlawat, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Armaan Rahlan, follows the story of a newly married couple who is caught in a battle of affection as the entry of a young new male employee leads to a series of strange events. Fatima plays a young bride who is stuck in an unhappy marriage and always vying for love and attention. Jaideep is a thuggish politician, who thrives on exercising power and vengeance and is extremely possessive about his wife.
Shashank said working on a theme about flawed relationships was a unique experience for him as it was the first time he made something so unusual yet realistic.
“The exciting thing was I was writing characters that I don’t write in normal commercial film setup. We often get stuck in commercial films because we don’t want to write too many flawed characters in that space. We want them to be straightforward. So it was exciting for me when I wrote Fatima and Jaideep’s characters for this short film. They were multi-dimensional characters and we could have a lot of fun with them. The best part was they were all flawed characters, and that’s the beauty, that you chase imperfection rather than chasing perfection,” Shashank said.
Shashank said the medium of the short film helped him explore a writing style that was completely different from films. “I have written all the scripts of the films that I have made so far. So for me, the process of making a film was not new but the writing style definitely changes when you make a short film. You need to immediately think of scenes where you have to establish your characters as well as give a sense of conflict within two-three minutes into the film. Basically, what you do in two hours, you have to do that in 30 minutes,” he added.
Further talking about the film, he said, “It explores the dynamics of three characters, their interpersonal relationships and how they keep evolving with each scene. Jaideep, Fatima, and Armaan’s characters all want love on their own terms and the space to express themselves but are trapped within the norms of society, much like a lot of people around us."
Ajeeb Daastaans is set to release on April 16.