The alchemy of love is so unfathomable that it can change lives in ways that are least expected. Directed by Indrani Ray and produced by Tanvi Gandhi, Love In the Times of Corona establishes that truth. The film is a paean to celebrating love’s omnipresence and asserts that love transcends time and space.
Streaming on Voot Select in India, Love In The Times Of Corona qualified for an official entry into the Chicago South Asian Film Festival. I grabbed the wonderful opportunity to watch this gem of a film that speaks volumes about the mature storytelling by Indrani Ray who has also scripted the narrative.
The name says it all. Set against the backdrop of the pandemic, the film is an anthology of three shorts centered on three women. Stuck indoors during the lockdown, they undergo a process of honest introspection that makes them find their strength in their vulnerabilities.
A Short Hello
The first short, starring Dipannita Sharma, takes us into the day in the life of a divorced woman. Loneliness is her companion. Humming to herself, she performs mundane chores around the house. The moment of epiphany arrives when she reminisces about the bygone days. Reflecting on the happy times of the past, she thinks about rekindling the love once again by reaching out to the person she had wronged.
Tea and a Rose
Adil Hussain and Natasha Rastogi play the parts of Mr. Sen and Mrs. Khan. They are neighbors in their late fifties, and both have lost their spouses. Meeting over a cup of tea during the lockdown, they share a moment of warm companionship. Can they allow love to blossom so that they can weave a lasting relationship?
Dinner In Lockdown
Malvika Singh (Shibani Dandekar) is a psychiatrist who lives with her husband Nirvik (Shekhar Ravijani) in a posh house. While setting up a fancy virtual dinner, she comes to terms with the fact that their seemingly perfect relationship is just a facade. It is time to accept the truth and face the consequences.
Meticulous storytelling and brilliant performances grace the film
It is a fine ensemble of actors who deliver their best within a limited time frame. Dipannita Sharma is in a new avatar. Without mouthing a single line of dialogue, she brings her character alive by beautifully portraying her emotions. Natasha Rastogi essays her role with true finesse. From an actor of the caliber of Adil Hussain we can expect nothing less than perfection, and he does so by warming our hearts with his pleasing demeanour. Shibani Dandekar is convincing as the woman stuck at a crossroads, having to make a decision about her marriage. It is nice to see music composer and singer Shekhar Ravijani in this short, and he surely contributes his fair share.
It is Indrani Ray’s directorial debut, and she has ventured into a truly creative path. The theme of love is among the most explored ones in cinema, but it is the way the narrative is handled that makes it unique.
We get glimpses of three relationships, and in each of them, there is a moment of discovery. Among those feelings that rise to the brim are those of love, longing, joy, camaraderie, and regret. There is no judgment passed, and the journey ahead for the characters is left uncharted. Be it sweet or bitter, it is simply that momentous encounter with the truth that looms large and gives each of the stories a realistic fervor.
Love In the Times of Corona was directed virtually in its entirety, and Indrani Ray deserves a big round of applause for skillfully maneuvering the project to create the right cinematic effects! Being an avid lover of black and white photography, it is my personal feeling that an aesthetic value has been added by filming the scenes in a black and white frame, with of course a few seconds in colour as each story ends.
The film, with its gentle flow, feels like a precious treat. It is something akin to that experience when your favorite chocolate melts in your mouth and you enjoy every moment of it. Team Love In the Times of Corona, take a bow! Indrani Ray, we want more from you!
(This article was featured in Women’s Web )