Netflix dropped its first Hindi original film this past Valentine’s day. “Love Per Square Foot” is a Ronnie Screwvala production, directed by the man behind the web series “Bang Baaja Baraat,” Anand Tiwari.
The film stars Vicky Kaushal, who starred in the hit film “Masaan,” and Angira Dhar of “Bang Baaja Baaraat.” Critically acclaimed actor Raghubir Yadav is also on the cast as Kaushal’s father. It stars talented actresses and real-life sisters Ratna Pathak Shah and Supriya Pathak as Dhar and Kaushal’s mothers, respectively.
Kaushal and Dhar play Hindu IT engineer Sanjay Chaturvedi and Catholic bank loan officer Karina D’Souza. The duo meet by chance one day at the wedding of a co-worker and though they are dating other people, there is a spark between them and the dialogues flow naturally. In an effort to escape their frustrating lives at home, both dream of getting their own place to live on their own but neither can afford it.
Like New York City, real estate in Mumbai costs more than the average joe can afford. The over-priced cost of living, the nagging middle-class parents, the marriage-obsessed moms, and marrying for obligation instead of love are all issues that any 20-something will relate to. Sanjay and Karina just want out so they can finally live by their own rules. Both actors fabulously portray this inner battle of the love of their dreams and succumbing to their parent’s expectations.
With complicated love lives, of course, the sane thing to do is pretend to be a couple so they can register in a lottery for married couples only to get a flat in a new construction that’s offering a couple’s discount. Like any other Bollywood movie, pretending to be a couple leads to real love, though there is trepidation about admitting to it. Shocker. Karina and Sanjay fall in love quite innocently with shared auto rides and by just being honest with each other.
Falling in love was never a part of their plans because Sanjay is having an affair with his boss who is engaged and he wants the apartment so the couple can move in together. Meanwhile, Karina is engaged to a “good” Christian boy who expects her to be a stay-at-home wife, but she doesn’t want to live with his parents. The apartment was her dream; to start a new life with her partner. These subplots are integral to the main story but they lack depth and don’t add anything but unnecessary, masala-filled complications.
How the story ends is predictable but there are some surprising twists to get there. Though the lead pair performed well, I hoped the storyline gave more weight to the Pathak sisters. Both of these actresses are immensely talented and their skills could have been put to better use to show a larger range of emotions. On the other hand, there was a chance that giving them a meatier portion of the pie would take away from the lead. The music didn’t overpower and was well-placed in the film. They even have an adorkable version of the chicken dance.
For Netflix’s first venture into Indian films, “Love Per Square Foot” is a light-hearted and fun film. The streaming service is expanding their reach to the Indian audience with new shows made in India and a new comedy show starring Indian-American actor and comedian Hasan Minhaj.
How people consume entertainment is changing and Bollywood filmmakers like Screwvala are not falling behind.
“How, where, and when great stories are watched, is changing every day. Our younger audiences chose their mediums. We love to disrupt and innovate in this space, and this is a first of its kind for South Asia,” said Screwvala. “We are thrilled to come together with Netflix and break new ground by reaching film-lovers around the world directly with Netflix.”
Screwvala’s attempt was sweet, relatable, and, fun with just the right amount of masala-filled drama. Overall “Love Per Square Foot” was an adorable film that was fun to watch.