Hindustan Times Feb 13, 2018 03:32 am
Angira Dhar, Vicky Kaushal in a still from Love Per Square Foot.
Angira Dhar, Vicky Kaushal in a still from Love Per Square Foot.

Love Per Square Foot
Cast:
Vicky Kaushal, Angira Dhar
Director: Anand Tiwari
Rating: 3/5

In a Mumbai jostling for space, two youngsters dream of owning a 550-square-feet house, but they don’t know how to transform it into a home.

This sounds clichéd, but Netflix’s Valentine’s Day special, Love Per Square Foot, is far better than usual Hindi films that want us to realise the value of family and love in the middle of a concrete jungle.

Sanjay Chaturvedi (Vicky Kaushal) and Karina D’Souza (Angira Dhar) represent the famous Mumbai spirit. They are sharp, fast-paced and tactical. For years, they have individually nursed their little wish of having a permanent nameplate outside their house.

A newspaper advertisement for a housing scheme for couples brings them together, but it may not culminate on a happy note.

The whole process of love-marriage-house takes place in reverse for them. It’s a journey that may change them forever.

It’s not the shining South Mumbai, but an area full of crumbling houses adjacent to railway tracks. You can hear your neighbour even if you don’t want to. Their life is not totally private as the person living on the first floor can cause more damage to the rickety apartment. The hardest part of life is not realising that it’s not a good one, but the understanding that it might not ever change.

Director Anand Tiwari spaces out his sub-plots with leisure. If he lets us enter the world of Sanjay’s software engineer with a peek into his exploitation at the hands of his female boss, he gives us the glimpse of Karina’s inner happiness with a slow motion shot of her chicken dance.

Tiwari, who is one of the pioneers of the web series explosion in India, focuses on creating charming moments even if they come at a cost of looking tonally different. Probably it’s his experience in web series that makes him think in episodes. Love Per Square Foot is definitely funny, but it’s uneven too.

Vicky Kaushal and a terrific Angira Dhar (Remember Bang Baaja Baaraat?) save the day with their spontaneity, charm and understanding of the space. They make sure that the audience feel the drama yet not forget the theme. Their love story is entwined with the house. It’s breezy but with serious intentions and dollops of everyday humour.

They couldn’t ask for a better supporting cast. Raghubir Yadav, Ratna Pathak Shah, Supriya Pathak, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Gajraj Singh and Brijendra Kala display fantastic comic timing. They eliminate any chance of going overboard and repeating one of their previous roles by remaining true to the set-up. A nuanced sense of middle class values and the paradoxes attached to them make these characters endearing. I wish Tiwari could have focussed more on them than stretching the exploiting boss angle.

I wouldn’t blame Alankrita Sahai, who played the insecure, conniving boss, though. She makes her presence felt. It’s a different matter that you don’t ask for it all the time.

Love Per Square Foot doesn’t delve deep into matters of the heart, but it’s a feel good film for sure. Angira Dhar makes a promising debut and Vicky Kaushal shows his lighter side. Anand Tiwari handles romance with proper care and maturity. Love Per Square Foot is youthful, urbane and lovable.

Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha

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