Obviously modelled on Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached, Tuesdays & Fridays is too besotted with the idea of delivering a standard Bollywood romance to ever really say something worthy of its own.
There’s a specific brand of millennial rom-com that has penetrated Bollywood of late. These are primed to be an update on the epic romances that Hindi cinema has been perpetuating for decades, involving mustard fields, Eurotrips, and endless pining. These films, on the other hand, promise to be more rooted in reality than escapism, as a way of reflecting the altered priorities of the younger generation and the decade they inhabit. The usual obstacles to the romance here aren’t external causes, such as disapproving parents, arranged marriage scenarios, or religious faultlines. Instead, they’re more internal – emotional baggage, commitment phobia, or just plain old indecisiveness. But the trouble is this: Despite the modern packaging, the romance depicted in these movies tend to be as unrealistic and ignorant of the times we live in.
Debutante filmmaker Taranveer Singh’s Tuesdays & Fridays is the kind of film that is a template. The film is set abroad, which is a shorthand for implying that its universe will be populated with protagonists who lead manicured Instagrammable lives for whom money is never an issue. The protagonists are Varun (Anmol Dhillon) and Sia (Jhataleka Malhotra), two attractive millennials who don’t have jobs as much as they have mysteriously successful designations: he is a “best-selling author” and she is a “lawyer” helping him out with the movie rights for his book. They’re naturally good at their jobs although working isn’t really a priority. And their love-story comes with needless complications of its own, mainly centred around the profound pretence of “commitment-phobia.” Varun and Sia agree to be romantic partners only on two days of the week: Tuesdays and Fridays. On the other days of the week, they’re just friends. And yet, their terms and conditions can’t really forestall the eventuality of them falling in love. This is the kind of film where two lovers pine because they can, not because they have to. Essentially, it’s a non-story masquerading as a love story.
A still from Tuesdays & Fridays
Obviously modelled on Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached, Tuesdays & Fridays is too besotted with the idea of delivering a standard Bollywood romance to ever really say something worthy of its own. Its idea of attraction, romance, and conflict are so vacant that it would have been dated even in the noughties. If the idea was to suggest the myriad ways in which millennials, ensconced in a language of casual flings in the age of unlimited options self-sabotage their own romantic lives, then Tuesdays & Fridays misses arriving at that by several miles. The premise is thin, the dialogue is laughably insipid, the acting is gloriously sub-par, and the cliches are plentiful. For instance, one sub-plot involves a gay guy pretending to be straight and another has Sia’s 18-year-old sister being desperate to lose her virginity.
A still from Tuesdays & Fridays
As Varun and Sia, both Dhillon and Malhotra are stilted. Dhillon seems rather uneasy in front of the camera and is terribly incompetent in the emotional scenes, turning in a performance that has him just existing in front of the camera instead of acting for it. Malhotra doesn’t fare any better, over-emoting to a point of exhaustion. The screenplay is so shorn of charm that it provides not even one single reason to warrant any investment in these two characters. And Dhillon and Malhotra’s performances are so mediocre and forgettable that they might have just set a new bar for dull debuts. To put it simply, the filmmaking feels like a parody of itself. But the film’s most unforgivable shortcoming is its ear-piercing soundtrack auto-tuned by Tony Kakkar that mistakes music for just unbearable noise. At this point, I’d pay anything for an app that fines filmmakers every time they source a needlessly remixed shrill soundtrack that sounds like a hate-crime.
Perhaps, the best way to describe Tuesdays & Fridays is that it is an Imtiaz Ali film without any personality.