By Erin Chew, AsAmNews Staff Writer
During the Pacific Arts Movement San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) this year, a number of films produced during the COVID-19 pandemic were showcased. One of the most memorable films shown was 7 Days, which was the centerpiece film for the Opening Night of SDAFF as well as the 3rdi International South Asian Film Festival this weekend in San Francisco.
The film is the directorial debut for Roshan Sethi – who in fact is an overachieving Asian training to be a resident doctor and making a film pretty much at the same time.
The story revolves around Ravi ( played by Karan Soni) and Rita ( played by Geraldine Viswanathan) who dutifully go on an arranged blind date. Rita is a liberated Indian American woman, who agrees to go on a blind date with Ravi just to appease her own mother. Ravi is more of an awkward, conservative and obedient son, who is really banking on finding a “good” Indian woman to be his wife, and follows his mother’s arrangements.
After their first date, their phones blow up about the pandemic and the world shutting down. Being two different people they are stuck staying together for a week where they learn to look beyond each other’s differences, deal with each other’s personality and lifestyle quirks, enjoy each other’s company, and finally fall in love.
It is an interesting and unique rom-com, which has elements of comedy, cringe-worthy moments, heartwarming scenes, and all happening during pandemic lockdowns – very relevant for how the world is today.
Director, Roshan Sethi, discusses what it was like creatively when the film was made back in 2020, during the heights of the pandemic and lockdowns.
Sethi: I was actually a resident physician and I just finished my residency in June 2020. Karan Soni, my boyfriend who is in the movie, was waiting for all his acting projects to come back, but because of the pandemic, nothing was being filmed or produced. So during this hiatus, we felt like we wanted to create something and hence we made 7 Days.
We made this film which was shot in only one location (Palm Springs) and something which could be shot in a very limited period of time. We only had two actors on camera so we could meet the strict COVID restrictions at the time. It was difficult but fun at the same time.
The film revolved around the arranged blind dates/marriage industry, which is huge in many Asian cultures, specifically South Asian cultures. In India, there are dating websites that are all about parents putting up images and profiles of their children in the hopes of finding a match.
Sethi: Both Karan and myself are children of arranged marriages. We have both seen relatives and friends go through this experience on being on these websites, where the parents create their profiles and seeing them connect – in some cases long-lasting love relationships and in others not being successful – so we thought it would be funny and interesting to explore this as the premise of our film.
In America and in the Western lens, this practice of arranged blind dates/marriages is frowned upon and not validated as being a concept at all, but as Sethi states, it is not about showing whether the arranged system is good or bad, but focusing on how it can work and that love isn’t always instant and can develop with time.
Sethi: Personally, I do have a lot of respect for arranged marriages. I think the whole Western conception of love is pretty silly if you look at it – that love is something that happens to us, that we are struck by a thunderbolt and that there is only one person that we have lasting compatibility with, and that person is your soulmate.
All these ideas are pretty implausible, where the Eastern/Indian ideas of arranged marriages is all about building on the love over time and that love is sweet but also practical – as long as both side’s parents agree with it.
7 Days had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in June this year and at the SDAFF won the Best Narrative Feature award. It also opened the 3rdi International South Asian Film Festival Friday, November 12 in San Francisco.
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