I fell in love with 7 Days within the first few frames.
Roshan Sethi’s directorial debut, starring Miracle Workers costars Karan Soni and Geraldine Viswanathan, is an alchemical romantic comedy, a marvelous blend of writing, performance, and production that will charm from the opening sequence until the final frame.
Co-written by Sethi and Soni, the film spends one week with Ravi (Soni) and Rita (Viswanathan), who meet for a socially distant first date arranged by their parents but end up quarantined together as COVID-19 grinds life to a halt in March 2020.
The title comes from Ravi, a hopeless romantic intent on finding love the way his parents did, married within seven days of laying eyes upon each other as part of an arranged marriage. In Rita, he finds a traditional Indian girl who shares his values, doesn’t drink or eat meat, and won’t hug him too tightly when they part ways. Or so he thinks.
Sequestered together in the early days of the pandemic, Rita and Ravi get to know each other as only close roommates and partners do. They learn each other’s habits, ticks, proclivities, and secrets. They have dance parties and disastrous attempts at cooking, and they talk and text late into the night with no choice but to grow closer with every shared word.
Even when they’re isolating, Rita and Ravi are all each other has. Credit: Cinedigm Entertainment Group
Rita was written with Viswanathan in mind, and the Blockers star imbues Rita with a generous spirit that keeps her from veering into bloated Cool Girl territory. She plays masterfully off Soni’s restive aura, making the film more of a buddy-comedy than a love story for much of the first act. Later on, Soni spends swaths of the film alone, playing mostly off the eclectic set and Ravi’s abject discomfort — and a Zoomed in Zenobia Schroff — to spectacular effect.
7 Days was shot in almost as much time (eight days) on a ranch in Palm Springs, adding strongly to its verisimilitude. Everything from the details of a real, lived-in home as the backdrop to the actors’ existing rapport adds depth to Rita and Ravi’s blooming relationship. Jeremy Mackie’s cinematography is breathtaking in capturing the cluttered set and small cast, giving the authentic sense of both entrapment and wonder roiling around in our heroes’ hearts. In short, every element of this film serves its prime directive: to unite two disparate and unlikely companions in a time of immense uncertainty — to create a pocket of safety and comfort when they don’t even realize how badly they need it.SEE ALSO:Netflix’s ‘Social Distance’ is a tribute to the technology keeping us sane
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Through Ravi, Soni explores his own Indian identity in a way that none of his roles to date have allowed — and without getting tangled in the emasculation and stereotyping of older Hollywood depictions of South Asians. He’s entirely secure in how he identifies, proudly waving an Indian flag as his Zoom background and tearfully recounting his favorite Bollywood movie to Rita in an exceptional monologue. Ravi and Rita’s diverging paths and relationships to their culture feel distinctly fleshed out, informed by lived experience rather than a desire to simply check boxes on page and screen.
Sethi and Soni bookend the film with testimonials from actual couples, including their own friends and family. Most of these are arranged or semi-arranged marriages, but refreshingly the film does not take a particular stance on the institution. Ravi believes in it firmly while Rita rejects it, but they can’t help seeing each other’s point of view while exposed to each other 24/7. Though it reads most easily as a romance, 7 Days is about intimacy in its purest form, and how quickly and strongly those bonds can be forged.