Coffee Shop is one of the episodes of the series New York Stories aired on HUM TV. Comprising thirteen episodes, each telling a different story, the series is based on the lives of South Asian expatriates residing in New York. Written by Larry Pontius, directed by Mehreen Jabbar and co-directed by Deepti Gupta, Coffee Shop is a light-hearted comic episode that revolves around three friends, Fatima, Saba and Nandini. However, the focus remains more on the latter two throughout, played by Diksha Basu and Farah Bala.
While Saba is an organised and hard-working girl with more focus on her job and less on her looks and her man-to-be, Nandini is stylish, flirtatious and someone who performs tasks with alacrity instead of by managing them. Attached to their office is a coffee shop which they visit to buy coffee which they can enjoy sipping during work. It happens that both the friends fall for the man serving at the shop, named Rizwan. This character performed by Rupak Ginn is made an attraction for Saba and Nandini owing to his charming smile, seeing which both the friends start devising ways to approach him. While Saba remains a little reserved and controlled in the pursuit, Nandini openly flirts with the man, but all in vain. Surprisingly, Rizwan shows indifference to Nandini’s efforts and expresses his likeness for Saba. This results in the girls’ friendship being threatened by an outsider, the engendered jealousy depicted through humorous situations such as Nandini taking all the credit for the assigned office tasks and Saba spilling a whole garbage bin over Nandini. However, Saba, without caring about her friend’s envious attitude, goes out on a date with Rizwan on his request. What follows is full of surprises, ironies and comic situations – for which the episode is a must-watch.
The strong script keeps the viewer hooked till the last scene despite revolving around only three to four characters and using minimal locations
Coffee Shop is a simple work with a strong script which keeps the viewer hooked till the last scene despite revolving around three to four characters only and using minimal locations – mostly an office cabin and a coffee shop. It is what one can call comedy in the real sense of the word, for it is “feel-good”, has sarcasm in its dialogues and is rich with hilarious scenes. Saba’s character is executed marvellously by Diksha Basu, for she does justice to the shy character by stammering at times and showing bafflement. On the other hand, watching Farah Bala in a comic piece is an experience entirely different from watching her in Larry Pontius’s serious drama, Neeyat. She presents herself as a mature actor whose every dialogue is delivered with impressive enunciation. Rupak Ginn does have a charming smile and proves himself the perfect choice for the character. Other performers with guest appearances in the episode are Deepti Gupta herself, Reena Puri, Tommy Schoffler, Noshir Dalal, Andrew Prokopenko, Sara the cat and Mohammed Ahmed (whose voice has been used only).
Coffee Shop does hide a few bitter realities underneath, such as falling for appearances and calling grapes sour, but the episode presents itself as pure entertainment in such a fine manner that one does not feel like critically analysing it. Its beauty lies in watching it as a comedy only, and a comedy of menace.
The writer is a student of English Language and Literature at GCU, Lahore and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org