In the history of first dates, there are arguably a number that went better.
Indian-American twentysomethings Ravi (Karan Soni) and Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan) are on an awkward arranged first date when the coronavirus lockdown hits. With his transportation home unavailable, Ravi finds himself having to shelter down in Rita’s apartment. And almost immediately, the façade that Ravi presented on the date as a young traditional Indian woman eager to find a husband crumbles. Ravi, awkward to the point of not being very self-aware and anxious to get married, is disappointed and the two enter into an uneasy truce as they wait for it to be safe for Ravi to head out and they can get back to their separate lives.
I know that as we are (hopefully) coming out of the coronavirus pandemic, the last thing anyone would want to do is spend another hour and a half trapped indoors. But 7 Days isn’t really about coronavirus or the lockdown as it is more interested in exploring the tension that young Indian-Americans face when it comes to marriage. Do they follow their parents’ traditions of arranged courtships that quickly lead to nuptials or do they follow a more western path to the alter? The screenplay – by Karan Soni and director Roshan Sethi – gets thematic mileage out of the two discussing their various thoughts on relationships. These characters could have pretty much similar character arcs if they were trapped together inside due to a large snowstorm rather than a viral pandemic.
The man problem, though, is that 7 Days wants to be a non-traditional rom-com, but it always seems to be steering back into the familiar trappings of the genre. The film opens with clips of a number of Indian couples talking about how they met each other in a way that immediately recalls Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally. Additionally, there are a number of beats lifted out of the standard rom-com playbook.
But it is with the third act that the specificity of the mechanism trapping them together – the cornavirus lockdown – really comes into play. It is also here where the film suddenly becomes more interested in plot rather than exploring its characters’ two opposing viewpoints. The shift is perhaps inevitable; we have seen the characters express their beliefs to each other and now it is time to see how they will act upon what they learned about the other. But it is a turn that shifts the tone of the film a few shades darker and feels a bit awkward.