Love at 5th Floor (previously known as Happily Ever After), a five-part mini-series written, directed and produced by Aditi Banerjee is now streaming on MX Player.
The multilingual series (in Hindi, English, Kannada and Punjabi) was crowdfunded by over 100 people and is the directorial debut of Aditi Banerjee.
The show centred around the lives of three women in urban India in which the wife of a cheating husband, a young mother tempted by an online chatroom and an older polyamorous woman explore the world of love, desire, friendship and separation.
The web series stars Dilnaz Irani (Jodha Akbar, Decoupled, Aarya, Guilty Minds), Rachna Gupta (Web Series debut, youngest ever NSD graduate), Virginia Rodrigues (Seasoned theatre actor, Kannada film actor, Mahira), Vivek Kumar, Vaibhav Deep Chopra, Kafeel Jafri.
The mini-series is around 1 hour and 40 minutes, with each episode ranging from18 to 24 minutes.
The series was officially selected at Montreal International Film Festival 2020, Toronto Film Channel-2020, Lift Off Global Network- Paris- 2020. It won two awards, Exceptional Merit at Depth of Field International Film Festival and Award of Excellence at WRPN Women's International Film Festival.
The writer-director-producer Aditi Banerjee shares her joy about the launch of the web series. “The women in this series are relatable, strong, vulnerable and fallible. They break stereotypes associated with 'modern' Indian women and conventional ideas of a homemaker.Love at Fifth Floor explores this world where many of us live, and nothing is simple. It is an invitation for people to take a pause, question and be able to look at life around them with a fresh perspective.”
She adds, “The release is a big step for this labour of love. It is to give back to the hundred-plus people who made this happen through crowdfunding, the cast and crew who trusted me with my madness and now for the audience to make it their own”
The series is shot by Prahlad Gopakumar (Dhh- National Award-winning film, Sonchidi by Amit Dutta), Sound Designed by - Vipin Bhati (Jodha Akbar, Dhanak), Edited by - Lavanya Ramaiah. OST is by - Atul Giri ( Independent Songwriter/ Singer based in Norway), BGM by Siddharth Gautam ( Lal Singh Chadda), edit advisors were Unni Vijayan, Hansa Thapliyal, Gouri Patwardhan
One day at the fifth floor of an apartment complex, a shocking video on a laptop, a tryst with the webcam, and an ugly confrontation with the family throw the lives of a young mother, a CEO, and a polyamorous professor off gear.
Nalasha Apartments is like any other ordinary apartment in urban India, but with the extraordinary stories of three very different women. One evening, the successful CEO of a company, Anya Roy discovers a video of her husband having sex with another woman. In the neighbouring house, young and feisty Ikjot struggles to be a responsible mother and encounters her sensual self again through the world of online chatrooms. Opposite Ikjot lives an older woman- unmarried and polyamorous. Uma is a professor from a conservative Kannadiga family with not-so-conservative choices.
Anya finds it hard to confront her husband while living and working with him, Ikjot has a moral dilemma of being in love with her husband while discovering a new world online and Uma has a mysterious past that affects her. Each of them is vulnerable in their own way. The story unravels as these three women deal with love, desire, pain and separation. As they do that, their lives intersect and some unlikely choices and friendships emerge.
The intention behind the series is to have a series about women, with lightness and normalcy and show a slice of life. The women in the show are relatable, strong,vulnerable and fallible. They break the stereotypes associated with both 'modern' Indian women and women who are homemakers. It attempts to move away from a simplified look at women's desires.
The drama is understated. The worldview emerges from extensive research with real women in urban India and is informed by my work as a documentary filmmaker. The idea was born out of people sharing very intimate experiences online- on Facebook and Quora. The times we live in are intriguing- at one end there is isolation in urban settings, and on the other end there is deep intimacy on the internet. This series looks at both sides of urban reality. People in urban India are multilingual and culturally diverse, as portrayed in the series. The characters are varied- in language, background and appearance.
This series is a small step towards equal representation of women on and off-screen. Today, even in Hollywood the screen time that women have where they speak or are physically visible is very low. The number of women in technical roles is small, all over the world. While equality is something we aspire to, as an industry, we are far from it. This project is driven by a largely women cast and crew. At the core of the series lies love. Love is never only about love, it is hate, it is desire, it is boredom, normalcy, and excitement. The wish is to explore areas that pose moral dilemmas, for which answers are not black and white. To create conversations and thoughts about love, power, sexuality and desire that are open and not preachy.
About Aditi Banerjee:
In her decade-long filmmaking practice, Aditi Banerjee has worked as a director, writer, producer and teacher. Her filmmaking is not bound by genres, it is ever-growing and changing. Her work has been telecast on National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Al Jazeera and Fox and has won awards in India as well as abroad. She recently made an independent, crowdfunded mini web series 'Love at Fifth Floor', which has travelled to Paris, LA and Toronto and has now been released on MX Player. At present Aditi is developing an original idea for an OTT platform with India's largest subscriber base.
Aditi has a post-graduate degree in Film & Video Communication from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, M.A. in English Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University and a B.A.(Honours) in English Literature from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University.