Not surprisingly, this year’s Tribeca Film Festival featured films that directly deal with the global pandemic that is changing our world. Roshan Sethi, the director and co-writer of 7 Days, was directly inspired by the creative depression he was feeling during lockdown, so he wrote this film in less than a week in the summer of 2020. The cast and crew of about eleven people then went into full covid-bubble mode, found a ranch near Palm Springs and shot the film in August during a heat wave. This not only speaks to the dedication this crew had to their craft, but it’s also a delightful story of how even during tough times the urge to tell stories and connect with people can inspire us to act. Roshan and his producing partners Mark and Jay Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed) found lightning in a bottle with this story and ran with it, providing audiences with this beautifully sweet tale about two strangers who get trapped together during the pandemic lockdown.
A modern-day pandemic romance, 7 Days stars co-writer Karan Soni (Deadpool) as Ravi alongside Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers) as Rita, two single Indian people who are being forced to go on dates with other Indian people in order to find their parent-approved soulmate. The film opens with very candid and charming zoom-style videos of some of the real parents of the cast and crew talking about their own arranged marriages. Even though the concept of arranged marriages is not always the easiest for Western cultures to accept, the stories they are telling in the beginning are charming and touching. We then cut to our two protagonists sitting awkwardly on their first date. It’s clear they are lying through their teeth to each other, just to appease their parents and it’s also clear this date isn't going well. After some more painful, but hilarious moments they go back to Rita’s apartment and pretty much come to the conclusion that they aren't right for each other - and then the lockdown is announced. Ravi is now stuck living in the apartment with Rita for seven days while the world around them is shut down. As the film navigates the hilarity of the situation it also goes deeper into these two characters, their different perspectives on life and what drives them. On the surface they seem like polar opposites - Ravi being the straight and conservative type, while Rita is the more boisterous wild child. As the film progresses and the vulnerabilities of each character are revealed, the relationship morphs into something other than just awkward animosity and truly draws the audience in. The witty dialogue bolstered by a strong chemistry these two actors share on screen keeps the energy moving forward, even when the slight fatigue of being in one location for so long begins to set in.
This film wasn't in awards contention at the Tribeca Film Festival, but it did win Best Narrative Feature at the Bentonville Film Festival later in the summer. It truly is a prescient movie that hits pretty close to home as far as pandemic experiences and lockdown go but is nonetheless a delight to watch. Roshan Sethi is not only a screenwriter, but also a physician at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, which seems to give him a keen insight into the human experience that may be different from other artists. He spoke in the virtual interview about how for him the lockdown was all about love, connection and loneliness and it was something he felt like he had to write about. In less skilled hands this film could have been in danger of being too depressing, but Roshan quite brilliantly turns his directorial debut into a heartfelt story about what true human connection is and how it can shape us for the better.