Netflix’s latest anthology series, Feels Like Ishq, is a breezy and pleasant take on the plethora of emotions experienced by young lovers as they slip over peels of unforeseen attractions in the most unlikeliest of places.
The series takes you through six very different tales that are drastically different in setting but curiously similar in the vibes they radiate.
It starts off with Amol Parashar and Radhika Madan led ‘Save The Da(y)te’ that features the duo searching for a runaway bride in Goa while bickering about legitimacies of marriage in modern times.
The second entry, ‘Quarantine Crush’ is set in Delhi during the first lockdown in which a high schooler, Maninder (Mihir Ahuja), falls head over heels for his Canada return neighbour, Nimi (Kajol Chugh), as she isolates herself, in the house opposite his, for 14 days. He ends up coming up with odd solutions to make conversation and fuel this cross roof romance.
Next up is Rohit Saraf as Aditya in ‘Star Host’ where he puts up his beautiful Mahabaleshwar property up on a BnB website for couples to book when his parents leave on vacation. Hoping to save money for his own trip to witness the northern lights, he unexpectedly bonds with his guest, Tara (Simran Jehani), who shows up alone for the retreat after a breakup.
A corporate office setting plays host to Tarasha (Saba Azad) and Muskan (Sanjeeta Bhattacharya), as they bring forth a same sex love story to light in ‘She loves me She loves Me Not’. The attraction is subtle at first as the 23-year-old bisexual yet insecure Muskan cannot take her eyes off of the fierce Tarasha when she joins. However, overcoming these hindrances to confess feelings is what forms the crux of this narrative.
The penultimate romance brews between two rival candidates for the same job in ‘Interview’. The less qualified out of the two (played by Neeraj Madhav) is nervous and asks for pointers from a rival (played Zayn Khan) to which she kindly obliges. The race to get the job is soon overshadowed as the effortless chemistry between the two comes to light.
Finally, the last film titled, ‘Ishq Mastana’, focuses on an enthusiastic activist Mehr (Tanya Maniktala) and Kabir (Skand Thakur). Recently broken up and looking for a rebound, Kabir follows Mehr to a protest but ends up warming to her more than he expected.
The characters and their portrayal in Feels Like Ishq are its biggest strength across all stories. The organic, natural, and quirky yet relatable people that experience these upheavals of love are a joy to watch.
Highlighting dialogue delivery, expressions, body language, and the subtlety of emotions, the actors hit the nail on the head in every scene. The stark difference in their personalities aren’t overshadowed by the fact that they all go through similar experiences.
From Mihir Ahuja’s puppy faced Maninder to Tanya Maniktala’s overzealous Mehr, everyone is able to maintain their individuality.
There is a lot to praise in Feels Like Ishq, starting off with its brilliant set of directors — namely Anand Tiwari, Ruchir Arun, Tahira Kashyap, Sachin Kundalkar, Jaydeep Sarkar, and Danish Aslam — who have seamlessly blended their respective stories into a perfect concoction of heart-warming entertainment. Much credit for this also has to go to the creative director of the entire series, Devrath Sagar.
The screenplays are light, fun, and easy to digest. Furthermore, the cinematography and the editing surprisingly act as a major assets to the overall experience as every film features clever use of on-screen chats and social media pop ups, brilliantly articulated transitions, and scenic still and drone shots (where possible).
Love as a theme, motif, and symbol is represented in a stellar way. Feels Like Ishq doesn’t really promote or glorify romance as much as it questions it albeit in a healthy way.
Never across any of the stories does a character actually say the elusive four letter word, but lives it via the scenarios they’re in. The series does the audience a favour by being woke in its representation. One could argue that it uses love as a pretext to touch upon topics of communication, marriage, stalking, self-discovery, sexuality, politics, rivalries, and more.
Furthermore, the music and songs sprinkled across these heartfelt tales are a welcome addition, and do not take you out of the zone they create.
The screenplays use another common theme besides love to convey a message which can feel a bit repetitive at times. Every film features two people of quite opposing views on life which they project onto each other, which may come across as preachy.
Even though the writing is light and relatable, it is not consistently good across the board. There seems to be a pattern of starting on a happy note, introducing a negative, and concluding on a positive. Amidst this, some instances fall flat which are saved by the actors in the frame.
The fourth wall break in ‘She loves me She loves Me Not’ is also a tiny aspect that is not necessarily required. It is probably there to vocalise bisexual and gay feelings that the protagonist processes. However, it feels forced and too blatant to vocalise those thoughts.
Also, it is respectable that the films highlight great issues mentioned in the positives, but their short runtime and a desire to conclude happily often leave those issues hanging in mid air or present a very forgetful reasoning to get past them.
Feels Like Ishq has its flaws and inconsistencies but they are easily forgivable amidst the relatable and woke representation of love, making it a great watch overall. It will definitely take you on an earnest journey that may bring back those teenage stomach butterflies and trigger some happy memories, making you feel cosy throughout.