Dating and finding “The One” is hard. So, just imagine how much harder that would be if your mother was setting you up on dates. Now ratchet that up one more level by throwing COVID into the mix. This is the basic premise for writer/director Roshan Sethi’s modest and charming first feature film, 7 Days.
Ravi (Karan Soni) is a young Indian man who is a momma’s boy and hopelessly romantic. He hopes to find “The One” with all the bells and whistles he’s seen in the movies. Ravi is also looking for a traditional Indian girl — smart, vegetarian, doesn’t drink, and does things the traditional way. One day he goes on a date that his mother set up with Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan), who presents herself as the nice Indian girl Ravi is looking for. Unfortunately, after an awkward and lackluster date, COVID throws a wrench in their plans. Ravi is forced to shelter in place with Rita at her apartment. Over the next seven days, the two’s expectations of a partner and their views on love and relationships are upended as they help each other through turbulent times while coming to see the other for who they really are.
Since the pandemic started, “pandemic romance” has been quite the popular theme — from Love in the Time of Corona, Locked Down, As of Yet, and countless short films, to name just a few. 7 Days has all the COVID film tropes — two people who’ve just meet forced to cohabitate, banging of the pots to honor front line workers, a little jealousy and lots of back-to-back room scenes to name a few — but what makes this cute opposites-attract story so endearing if the fact that it’s told through the viewpoints of two Indian-American young adults — not often represented in Hollywood — but still universal in its themes and relatability.
7 Days is an honest, heartfelt film about loneliness, desperation, and hope — something we can all relate to at one point in our lives or another. Whether you believe in soulmates or just think that you have to deal with what you get, dating and relationships are fodder for a good story. Especially in today’s modern society of dating apps and profiles, we’re all salespeople (or our mothers are). We’re trying to project what we think will give us the best chance of finding a mate. In Rita’s case, that means trying to hide the fact that she’s more Americanized than traditional Indian — eating fried chicken, drinking, and not seeming to have her life together while trying to hold on to an ill-fated “relationship.” While on the other hand, Ravi’s rigidity in his life’s plan and determination to be swept off his feet by the “perfect” traditional girl keeps getting him passed over, date after date.
Being sequestered in a house with no escape while with someone can make you learn a lot about yourself and them, opening up your eyes to unlikely friendships and relationships. Over the course of the seven days in lockdown, Rita helps Ravi loosen up, enjoy life, and embrace the uncertainties and unknowns in life, while Ravi shows Rita that she is worthy of love just the way she is. She’s avoidant and pushes people away, but Ravi’s awkward but genuinely kind-heartedness helps her open up to love and being loved. What really makes this story unique is getting a glimpse of how other cultures deal with dating and relationships but, in the end, shows us the common threads and themes that we are all content with because, at the end of the day, we’re all the same and want the same things we just might take a different route to get there.
7 Days was written and directed by physician Roshan Sethi, who also created the TV show The Resident, so the shoutout to front-line workers and newbie doctors makes sense — Sethi himself finished his residency during the height of the COVID pandemic. The story is modest and straightforward, but its warmth shines through in its sincere acting by Soni and Viswanathan. And add to that the fact that Soni is Sethi’s real-life partner and helped co-write the film, so his connection to the storyline really resonates.
The chemistry between the two leads was palpable and easy. Their comedic timing really compliments each other. The cute, little camera winks throughout the film and the combination of life’s comedic stylings and sincerity — a key trademark of a Duplass Brother’s production — make for a heartfelt unexpected love story that leaves you rooting for them in the end. The characters are likable and relatable, the story resonates, and in the end, this sweet rom-com about connection and healing leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside, and you see why 7 Days won Best First Feature at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards.