‘One Day’: Hollywood Romance with a South Asian Twist

The Netflix adaptation of the 2009 novel isn’t groundbreaking. But Ambika Mod as romantic lead Emma is.

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Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod as Dexter and Emma in 'One Day' (2024)

Snigdha Sur


February 16, 2024


7 min

A British Indian woman lies on a field, turned sideways toward her best friend, a blond blue-eyed smiler with dimples. “You know what I can’t understand?” Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall) muses. “You have all these people telling you all the time how great you are...I’ve been telling you for years. So why don’t you believe it?” Emma Morley (Ambika Mod), in her 20s and working a job she hates, can only slightly nod. 

Audiences have already seen one on-screen version of One Day, the 2009 David Nicholls novel, which follows Emma and Dexter over 20 years on the same day, July 15. The 2011 film starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess more than returned its $15 million budget, collecting roughly $59 million at the box office. But critics and audiences called it a “disappointment,” especially in comparison to the novel. 

And so, the story is ripe for disruption. Netflix’s 14-part adaptation is longer, with Ambika Mod playing Emma in a story that asks us: what are best friends for? The casting seems like a minor change. But though we get similar beats — almost scene for scene — to prior versions, we find ourselves with something far more soulful.

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