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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 18 June 2024

Prime Video’s Dil Dosti Dilemma is a compelling show about coming into one’s own

Adapted from Andaleeb Wajid’s 2016 novel Asmara’s Summer, the series is directed by Debbie Rao and stars Anushka Sen in the lead role

Shrestha Mukherjee Calcutta Published 09.05.24, 04:41 PM
Kush Jotwani and Anushka Sen in the series

Kush Jotwani and Anushka Sen in the series IMDb

How challenging can change be? Either it brings joy, or it strikes like a nightmare. For Asmara, the protagonist of Amazon Prime Video series Dil Dosti Dilemma, it is the latter to begin with. But change also opens up a window for new friendships, renewed bonds and a tug at the heart in Dil Dosti Dilemma, trending at No. 4 in India on Prime Video.

Based on Andaleeb Wajid’s 2016 novel Asmara’s Summer, the Debbie Rao-directed seven-episode series has Anushka Sen playing the lead role of Asmara, with Tanvi Azmi, Kush Jotwani, Shishir Sharma, Suhasini Mulay, Revathi Pillai, Elisha Mayor and Vishakha Pandey in supporting characters.

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Asmara is a witty, sparkly college-goer from an affluent family in Bangalore for whom it is all about living the good life. Makeup, fashion, partying and dining with her friends on her dad’s money is the norm till her mother Arshiya (Shruti Seth), frustrated by Asmara’s spoilt kid behaviour, cancels their family trip to Canada and packs her off to her maternal grandparents’ house on Tibri Road for the summer holidays.

The suburban Tibri Road locality makes Asmara squirm like a fish out of water. She has to deal with the dingy roads, old houses minus luxuries and most, of all, curious neighbours. While she struggles to fight off the disgust, to save her face she pretends to be in Canada on video call with her two friends, Tania (Elisha Mayor) and Naina (Revathi Pillai).

It is when Asmara learns to appreciate the humbleness of the locality, the warmth of its residents and the small joys of life that things start to change for her. After the initial hiccups, Asmara regains her lost affection for her grandparents – Nani and Nanu, played by Tanvi Azmi and Shishir Sharma. She begins to look forward to Nani’s cooking and Nanu supports her in her mischief-making, no matter how irksome it becomes for the neighbours.

Asmara strikes up a friendship with the bubbly Rukhsana, who secretly nurtures her passion for embroidery and wants to be a fashion designer. Asmara also finds herself falling in love with Rukhsana’s elder brother, Farzaan. She calls Farzaan ‘Dupatte-waala’ because he owns a clothes and accessories shop, and the two overcome their initial brusque interactions to quickly become confidants.

While the primary focus of the series remains on Asmara’s journey of self-discovery, there are subplots around the lives of Tania and Naina, each grappling with their own dilemmas. Certain areas such as the ones around Naina’s brother Nikhil, the nerd intern Dhruv who urges Tania to face reality and the mysterious woman intervenes in Asmara-Farzaan’s romance have been left unexplored.

Anushka Sen channels the innocence as well as the petulant side of an adolescent on the edge of adulthood as Asmara. Tanvi Azmi and Shishir Sharma are perfect as a much-in-love elderly couple, whom Asmara calls ‘couple goals’. Kush Jotwani is sharp and charming as Farzaan. Clad in Pathani suits, Kush ticks all the boxes for hotness alert. Suhasini Mulay injects moments of tension as Farzaan and Rukhsana’s cantankerous grandmother, breaking the show’s feel-good atmosphere for good.

Despite a predictable plot, Dil Dosti Dilemma is a tale of returning to one’s roots and challenging the stereotypes lodged in both elite and middle-class societies with reason and logic. Asmara doesn’t go through a character transformation but develops an appreciation of what life means beyond the urban bubble she lives in.

Through the protagonist relishing dates and raisins over packed chocolates, opting for both mini skirts and salwars suits, and joining the locals of Tibri Road in their fight to save the neighbourhood from being demolished, Dil Dosti Dilemma ends up being an engrossing story of embracing oneself and leading a life of one’s choice, no matter how noisy the world gets.

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