7 Days (2021) seemed to be a cute, naive love story, with its timely setting and pandemic undertones to gently stir the pot. When the credits roll, it becomes clear that it’s not only a soul-stirring comedy, but thanks to the chemistry of Karan Soni and Geraldine Viswanathan, 7 Days (2021) wins big.
Director Roshan Sethi opens with testimonies of a few couples who got their marital vows in the utmost respect for the Indian tradition. That translates to barely knowing each other, and making a decision of a lifetime out of sheer pragmatism. While they might strike us as dinosaurs in the era of swiping left and right in order to find the takeaway love, one cannot deny that these people found their common language eventually.
Sethi then cuts to Rita and Ravi. They’re not a happily married couple, but two strangers “enjoying” an awkward picnic in masks, gloves and no physical touch. Ravi’s a Mommy’s boy, a die-hard traditionalist who strongly believes in the idea of meeting women who were approved (or even selected) by his parents. His date follows the rulebook too, but it’s hard not to see it as a facade for what resides deeper.
While the director hints that the pandemic’s been around for a while, the circumstances get even more harsh just when the picnic wraps up. One coincidence leads to another, and Ravi, against every principle he’s ever lived by, stays the night at Rita’s place. And then another day, and another – right in the devil’s lair.
Having these entirely opposite characters shut inside one flat sparks numerous occasions for laughs. It’s no secret that Karan Soni and Geraldine Viswanathan are comedy treasures, a fact they’ve proven in the largely underappreciated series Miracle Workers (2019-). It’s no wonder that the script of 7 Days (2021) relies in its entirety on their joint effort. Under the patient eye of Roshan Sethi, Soni nails the pedantic, overly sensitive dude, who applies his own filters to withstand the surrounding world, meanwhile Viswanathan transforms from dorky and quirky into full-blown I-don’t-carism in a split of a second.
Imagine the horror of an awkward first date that takes days. Sethi points our attention at the friction points – details that pile up and lead to an ultimate failure of a relationship. For Rita and Ravi, it’s the anti-magnetism that floats in the air, to the extent that Ravi continues his online hunt for love while still staying at Rita’s place. Yet no matter how bitter the situation gets, or what obstacle appears on the horizon, Rita and Ravi always find a way to make us laugh, like in a good ol’ sitcom.
Pardon me though, for I believe calling 7 Days (2021) a sitcom would be unfair and diminishing in regard to the film’s cultural context. Sethi does rely on the chemistry of his actors, but the script also points to the way tradition binds modern people in the most bizarre of ways. There are parents forcing their views on the children, and these children living parts of heir lives in hiding, far from the judgmental parents living thousands of kilometers away. In this exploration of how technology crawls into the old-school ways of living, Sethi really wants to bridge the gap between the past and presence. 7 Days (2021) does not condemn tradition, but it confidently calls for its revision.
Where Sethi manages to compel us the most is the way these two worlds collide, and are forced to exist on new terms. Surely, tradition bows before the pandemic’s shadow. Ravi and Rita need to adjust, find a way to survive these few days despite the uncomfortable situation. With the breath of the uncontrollable threat on their necks, the two embody all the fears we had regarding stay-at-home times, however, 7 Days (2021) also leaves us with a warm feeling of “it’s gonna be alright”.