February 28, 2018January 9, 2019 4min readBy Tina Lapsia
One of the first ever original films on Netflix from India, “Love Per Square Foot” is a youthful rom-com about Sanjay Chaturvedi, a software engineer (played by Vicky Kaushal), and Karina D’Souza, a bank employee (played by newcomer Angira Dhar), and their ploy to apply for an apartment meant only for married couples in Mumbai’s elusive real estate market.
Directed by Anand Tiwari and also starring debutante Alankrita Sahai, Ratna Pathak-Shah, Supriya Pathak, Raghubir Yadav, Brijendra Kala, Arunoday Singh, and Ranbir Kapoor (in a guest appearance), the film certainly had potential to reach new heights and break Bollywood boundaries with the volume of cast talent, but was led down by eyebrow-raising plot contrivances, unnecessary musical interludes, and a couple of stereotypical characters.
“Love Per Square Foot” opens with the only good musical track in the movie (“Yatri Kripya Dhyan De”), which shone with witty rapping by the artist Mumbai’s Finest and beautifully complemented the brilliant shots of everyday Mumbaikar life shown throughout the number.
I became very hopeful for the film and its seeming depiction of urban life in India’s busiest city, but was soon let down by the introduction of a subplot involving Sanjay and his manipulative, annoying boss Rashi (Sahai). She is shown as someone who wants to keep her relationship with her boy-toy and “slave” (her words, not mine) a secret, especially from her lover/boyfriend Kashin Malhotra (Singh). A development later on in the film highlights Rashi’s hypocrisy and need for attention, but her character is just another representation of the overbearing and overdramatic female boss characters we’ve seen in Bollywood time and time again.
Sanjay and Karina meet at a mutual friend’s wedding, which, of course, wouldn’t have been complete without a dance number. I don’t know if India just discovered the chicken dance or something, but Tiwari and the producers somehow turn it into a desi-fied track as one of the multiple songs that unnecessarily lengthened the movie’s running time (but I guess that was just one of Bollywood’s unfortunate influences on the film). I really hope this doesn’t turn into the next dance phenomenon – the chicken song from “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” was already enough.
There was still a lot I enjoyed in “Love Per Square Foot,” thanks to the wonderful performances by the film’s most seasoned actors. The best moments come between Yadav (what a delight to hear him sing) and Pathak, especially in the scene where Yadav retires from his position as a railway announcer. Both play Sanjay’s devout Hindu parents living on a government paycheck with excellence.
Pathak Shah as Blossom, Karina’s single mother, definitely added depth and complexity to her character that most other actresses couldn’t, but her eccentric, broken-Hindi-speaking Catholic mom role represents Hindi cinema’s lack of comfort and stereotypes in representing non-Hindu characters. On that note, the (minor spoiler alert!) inter-religious marriage part between Sanjay and Karina and their families meeting was a poignant touch and could’ve been explored further, but things go a bit haywire as the second half of the film just sped through many important moments and overdid the ones it did spend time on in that filmy way it was trying to avoid in the first place.
“Love Per Square Foot” could have been a funny yet poignant dramatization of the real-estate crisis plaguing millennials in Mumbai, and dealing with familial pressures. Instead turns into a hasty rom-com where the housing situation fades away as a subplot.
In a way, this was like “Dostana,” as far as the pretending-to-be-a-couple-to-get-an-apartment element, but fortunately, that’s as far as the similarity goes. Kaushal and Dhar’s chemistry is sweet, but not electrifying.
Watch the film for a decent night in, the ensemble cast, and Ranbir’s one-minute guest appearance, but don’t hold your breath for anything revolutionary.
It’s always a flamboyant affair of colour, emotions and grandeur when Karan Johar directs a film, and his latest blockbuster “Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani” is as K Jo as it gets. After recently being recognised at the British House of Parliament for 25 years as a filmmaker, Johar is back to doing what he does best — bringing together families and star-crossed lovers, but this time with a modern touch. He makes a decent attempt at showcasing progressive ideals and feminist issues while taking us on this family-friendly ride.
“Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani” is a larger-than-life film revolving around the love story of a boisterous Rocky (Ranveer Singh) from a wealthy Delhi family, and Rani (Alia Bhatt), a sharp journalist from a progressive Bengali household. And of course, despite belonging to completely different backgrounds and lives, our protagonists, in true Bollywood fashion, fall hopelessly in love through a string of slow-motion gazes, warm embraces and some truly breath-taking song sequences in Kashmir’s snowy mountains. They are then forced to face their opposing families which brings along the family drama in the second half of the film.
The plot is not the film’s strongest point — there’s no real surprise about what’s going to happen next, and yet the film doesn’t fail to keep audiences engaged and pack an emotional punch. This is down to its strong acting, witty dialogues and K Jo’s classic, beautiful cinematography.
Ranveer Singh sinks into the skin of his character with ease – not only does he make the hall burst into laughter with the help of perfectly-timed gags but he pulls off those dreamy gazes ,expected in K Jo’s heroes, to evoke that typical, fuzzy-feeling kind of Bollywood romance. Alia Bhatt’s intelligent and undefeated character is no less a pleasure to watch on screen — not only does she look breath-taking in every shot but her feminist dialogues earn claps and cheers from the audience as she brings a progressive touch to this family drama.
Albeit, while Bhatt’s dialogues do their best to steer this film to the reformist drama it hopes to be, some of Singh’s gags and monologues on cancel culture bring out bumps in the road. The film could have done better to reinforce its points on feminism and racism without using the groups it tries to support as the butt of jokes.
There is also a case to be made about how long these Punjabi and Bengali stereotypes can go on with often gawkish displays of Ranveer’s ‘dilwala-from-Delhi’ character among the overly-polished English from Rani’s Bengali family. But it is with the expertise of the supporting cast, that the film is able to get away with it. Jaya Bachchan in particular is as classy as ever on screen; the stern Dadi Ji holds her ground between the two lovers, while Dada Ji Dharmendra, and Thakuma Shabana Azmi, tug at our heartstrings showing that love truly is for all ages.
Saving the best to last, it is the film’s cinematography that makes the strongest case for audiences to flock to the cinema. The soul-stirring songs steal the show with their extravagant sets and powerful dance performances that treat the audiences to the much-awaited cinematic experience of a K Jo film. While audiences may already be familiar with the viral songs, “What Jhumka?” and “Tum Kya Mile“, it was the family-defying fight for love in “Dhindhora Baje Re” that really gave me goosebumps.
Overall, the film does exactly what it says on the tin and is a family entertainer with something for everyone. It will make you laugh, cry, and cringe at times, but nothing leaves you feeling as romantic as some old school Bollywood with a mix of new school humour, in true K Jo form.
“Thank You For Coming” is a one-of-a-kind Bollywood film that is not only a through-and-through entertainer but also an inspiring story about a young woman, Kanika Kapoor (played by ace actress Bhumi Pednekar), who sets out to seek pleasure in bed; and, she’s not settling for anything less!
The film premiered at the 48th annual Toronto International Film Festival to an audience that was impressed with so many facets of the film — the comic timing of the impeccable cast, the subject matter of female pleasure, and the fantastic direction by debutant Karan Boolani — just to name a few!
“Ghoomer,” R. Balki’s latest directorial venture, had its world premiere at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2023 (IFFM), earlier this month, and the moment was nothing short of memorable. Lead actors Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, and Angad Bedi, were present to unveil their labor of love to the world, and all three were left speechless at the reaction of the global audience; the film received a standing ovation on opening night, leaving the team extremely emotional — a feeling that Bachchan tells Brown Girl is one he cannot put into words.
“Ghoomer,” tells the story of Anina (played by Kher), an exceptional cricket player who loses her right hand in an accident. Downtrodden and with no will to live, Anina finds a mentor and coach in Padam Singh Sodhi (played by Bachchan), an insensitive and brash failed cricketer who helps her turn her life and career around; Anina also has the unwavering support of her husband, Jeet (played by Bedi). Sodhi teaches Anina unorthodox techniques to make her mark on the cricket ground once again. Enter, ghoomer, a new style of bowling.
Balki checks all the boxes with this feature — his protagonist is a female athlete, the film is his way of giving back to cricket (a new form of delivery), and he highlights the idea that nothing is impossible for paraplegic athletes. The heart of Balki’s film is in the right place — Kher mentions that the film is meant to be more of an inspirational movie and less of a sports-based movie. One can only imagine the impact that a film like this would have on an audience that’s hungry for meaningful cinema.
And, to chat more about “Ghoomer,” Brown Girl Magazine sat down with the stars of the show. Bachchan, Bedi, and Kher came together to talk about their inspiring characters, the filming journey, and how their film aspires to change the landscape of cricket and paraplegic athletes in the country. It was all that, with a side of samosas.
Take a look!
The featured image is courtesy of Sterling Global.