Love Per Square Foot review: This Netflix film feels like a breezy Bombay version of YRF's Band Baaja Baaraat
Love Per Square Foot is what happens when you have an authentic setting, a stellar cast, the right intentions and good writing all mixed into one film.
castVicky Kaushal, Angira Dhar, Alankrita Sahai, Ratna Pathak Shah, Supriya Pathak, Raghubir Yadav, Arunoday Singh
Love Per Square Foot is what happens when you have talent, a stellar cast, the right intentions and good writing all mixed into one film.
Netflix's first mainstream digital-only film, Love Per Square Foot was released on the platform on Valentine's Day, and as much as the cliche-buster within me is protesting, this is quite the apt film to sit back and watch with your partner. It's a breezy, urbane and well-performed film that is truly an ode to love and Mumbai.
The universe in Love Per Square Foot is firmly rooted in the ethos of big-city Mumbai. Both its protagonists, Sanjay Chaturvedi (Vicky Kaushal) and Karina D'souza (Angira Dhar) have big dreams of owning a house in the financial capital (and subsequently attaining life-long success).
Sanjay's father (a worthy performance by the veteran Raghubir Yadav) is a retiring Railway official. He had dreams of becoming a singer but had to forego them for a more stable job. Along with his mother (played by the delightful Supriya Pathak), the three of them stay in a matchbox of an apartment in Dadar, which is the core of why Sanjay wants out so desperately.
Karina D'souza, on the other hand, is a thoroughbred Bandra girl (for the uninitiated, this means she speaks in urban Indian English sprinkled with a Marathi/Portugese tinge). She's engaged to a stable, rich boy (played by the ever-so-comical Kunaal Roy Kapur) on the insistence of her single mother (Ratna Pathak Shah, easily the best part of this film). Karina wants a place of her own, where she and her partner can have a life that is 50-50 (in terms of happiness and responsibilities), which is not a possibility once she married to the token "good Christian boy".
The scenes between Angira and Ratna Pathak Shah are a treat to watch for the performances are earnest, comical and (if you're familiar with people from Bandra) so very authentic.
Karina and Sanjay work in the same office and that's where they first meet. To the film's credit, it manages to balance the cheesiness of a typical meet-cute with a touch of realness. One of the reasons behind this is that both of them are involved with other people. However, they both enroll into a housing scheme on the sly, and when they realise their dreams are similar, they fall deeper and deeper (over time) into a world where they can't differenciate between love for each other and love for owning their own house.
Love Per Square Foot is to Mumbai what Band Baaja Baaraat was to Delhi.
The film brings to the fore careful nuances and quirks of the city that hasn't been overdone in the past. If Band Baaja Baaraat nailed the costumes, accents and representation of a real Dilliwaalah, Love Per Square Foot does the same for Mumbai. You'll often here Karina and her mother ending their sentences with 'men'; Sanjay spends most of his time travelling by local trains wearing his bag pack in front instead of the back (a typical Mumbai thing); and the opening credits of the film is a colourful tribute to the chaos of the city or the famed "Mumbai spirit".
Watch out for a funny scene involving Karina and Sanjay fighting for an auto by walking ahead of one another (Mumbai peeps, sounds familiar?)
One of the best things about Love Per Square Foot is the chemistry between its actors. Whether its between the lead pair (a refreshingly genuine connection between two actors who seem to have no frills) or between sisters Ratna and Supriya Pathak. These two have some of the best lines in the film, especially bringing out the stark difference from someone who hails from Mumbai versus UP. (I laughed the loudest when Supriya Pathak, a typical north-Indian mother, calls Ratna Pathak 'Balsam behen'. Her name is Blossom).
Having said this, Love Per Square Foot isn't a flawless film. For a digital-only release, it seems to have a theatrical hangover, with needless songs puncturing the narrative. It is baffling why the makers of this film felt the need to have lip-sync songs in the middle of an otherwise tight narrative. The soundtrack by itself isn't bad at all, but when stitched together it takes away the charm of an indigenous film. The songs also lead to the film being far longer than it should have been, and you feel it stretching towards the latter half. An hour in, and you can see the narrative speeding to tie loose ends and you end up not relating to some of it.
Nonetheless, Love Per Square Foot has its heart in the right place. It's an earnest, well-shot, well-written film meant to be watched with popcorn, and not cynicism.
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