When the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was the growing expectation that movies would adapt with time. Filmmakers set stories against the backdrop of one of the craziest periods in history. We’ve gotten both horror movies like “Songbird” and heist films like “Locked Down,” but we haven’t had romantic comedies. Enter “7 Days,” which follows a date between two Indian young adults (Karan Soni and Geraldine Viswanathan) set up by their mothers. The only catch with this hopeful marriage is that the night of their date, the infamous lockdown that plagued us in March 2020, affects the characters.
That premise can lead you to various conclusions, which might make you think you know what happens. What makes “7 Days” stand out is how the journey winds up being something more important than the destination. Soni and Viswanathan are two of the funniest comedic actors on the rise today. They’re both great comedic performers who have a natural ability to improvise. Soni, who co-wrote the script with boyfriend/director Roshan Sethi, leaves room for improvisation. When both Soni and Viswanathan can simply riff on one another, it feels natural. Certain scenes and conversations as written can make the improvisations really land.
The direction by Sethi (who works as a doctor when he’s not directing) treats this pandemic with the seriousness it deserves. Forcing these two funny comedians to learn about one another in times of trauma is funny to see. There’s a rather organic flow to the story that allows us to believe these characters, warts and all. It makes the comedy feel natural, and the story has a warmth that’s quite appealing. Such a feeling of humanity in a real event is something none of these “corona films” have accomplished.
Unfortunately, the film falts in its incredibly brief runtime. Clocking in at only 87 minutes long, the pacing is all over the place with broad shifts in tone. These shifts lessen some moments of tense drama and heartfelt comedy. What’s being attempted here in terms of tonal balancing is certainly not an easy feat. The film leans so far into both genres that it’s hard to understand the points that Sethi wants to make. Besides the cultural aspects, he’s making us notice how this pandemic made us look at the ugly truths of one another. Those moments of honesty that happen later in the film are arguably some of the film’s strongest.
I don’t want to spoil these stronger moments, but they really took me by surprise. Even with knowing the outcome, there’s still a joyous quality in watching the journey unfold. Compared to the dower looks we’ve gotten at this pandemic on film, this is definitely more on the positive side. We have two capable leads that deliver performances that feel like real people in a real situation. Besides the woes of the pandemic, the cultural insights about arranged marriages were fascinating. The film juggles a lot here to explore some really interesting angles.
The film “7 Days” feels very experimental in the stylistic choices it wants to convey. When our two leads are simply sitting together and talking, it’s such an enjoyable watch. The end result isn’t anything original but makes the most of its premise. If anything, it showed me that I would love to see future films with this talent at the helm. Our finished product thankfully serves as a unique and diverting 87 minutes, even if it doesn’t always work.