Middle-Class Love: A surprisingly well-packaged, coming-of-age rom-com with a star turn by Prit Kamani
So a big hand for the writers who know not only the language of today’s youngsters, but they also know what the young feel. Standing tall in the rubble of half-formed aspirations is Prit Kamani as the enfant terrible of the Sharma family, the bane of his father’s existence.
It would be most inappropriate to introduce Ratnaa Sinha as filmmaker Anubhav Sinha’s wife. That she has her own distinctive directorial voice is amply proven by her sophomore film. A rom-com with a big heart and a huge takeaway that goes by the rather staid title of Middle-Class Love.
Luckily, Ratnaa Sinha, whose Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana was about a marriage gone wrong in a small-town, gets everything other than the title right. Middle-Class Love is set in Mussoorie. It shares some noticeable similarities to Mansoor Ali Khan’s Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, especially in the hill-station setting and the aimless young hero.
Yudi Sharma in Middle-Class Love (damn, that title!) will remind you of Sanju Lal in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. Then there is the campus hottie and the Plain Jane, played in Mansoor Khan’s film by Pooja Bedi and Ayesh Jhulka. Here, the two newcomers, Eisha Singh and Kavya Thapar, add a sheen of gravitas to what looks like a soufflé rom-com at the top but is actually a exposition on the Indian middleclass deep and simmering, yearning to get out of the life of drudgery. Except, that our parents never saw their life as drudgery.
And what does Yudi want to escape into? The shallowness of the life that he craves to life—partying, boozing, networking, dating— is carved into the screenplay with confident strokes. Not for a moment does the writing appear ersatz. I’ve seldom seem the shallow exchanges of the Gen-X so sagaciously recalled with not an iota of self-consciousness.
So a big hand for the writers who know not only the language of today’s youngsters, but they also know what the young feel. Standing tall in the rubble of half-formed aspirations is Prit Kamani as the enfant terrible of the Sharma family, the bane of his father’s existence. His father (a brilliant Manoj Pahwa) is at the end of his tether and his elder brother burns the midnight oil to keep the home fires burning.
Yudhi is lost in his own bubble, wooing the two girls, doing his best to get likes on social media. His rapper friend (Sanjay Bishnoi, easefully supportive) cautions Yudhi. Yudhi is arrogant, cocky, insufferably self consumed. Prit Kamani gets into every shade of his character with the relish of a child digging into his multi-scoop ice-cream scoop. From the self-centred superficialities of his existence initially to his rather sudden change of heart and reform in the second-half, Kamani displays the potential to be the Next Big Thing.
What is talent-starved film industry waiting for?
Middle-Class Love conveys a mood of imperious lightness at the top. But as we proceed, the narrative probes into parental disappointments about children not living up to their expectations.
Admittedly, the fairytale like picture-perfect ending, where Yudhi’s world is restored to its original place, seems too convenient. But honestly, at this juncture of life, I would rather have the comfort of the familiar than the discomfort of the unfamiliar in my cinema.
There is something special about Middle-Class Love. And it has to do with its young lead Prit Kamani. Watch him closely. We will be seeing a lot of him in future.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.
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