Mumbai, 19 Feb 2018 10:00 IST
Updated: 19 Mar 2019 18:00 IST
A scintillating cast, relatable plot, and a cheesy, but pleasant romance make this film immensely identifiable.
Your reviewer is at the stage of his life when his parents suggest marriage, not as the next logical step, but as the only way to access a home loan. So, it is natural that he followed Sanjay Chaturvedi (Vicky Kaushal) and Karina D'Souza's (Angira Dhar) practical deal to con a housing scheme with a little more than natural interest.
The story could not have been set anywhere but in Mumbai. A city that boasts of the most expensive real estate in the world, Mumbai is also home to teeming millions who live out their days in cramped autos, buses, trains and apartments, but dream of their own special piece of land.
Sanjay and Karina, employees of the same bank, have this in common. Sanjay, a software engineer at the bank, is having an affair with his boss, Rashi Khanna (Alankrita Sahai). His father (Raghuvir Yadav) is set to retire from his job as a railway announcer at Dadar station, and his mother (Supriya Pathak) is looking for a bride for her son. Sanjay, meanwhile, dreams of his own house that will convince the selfish Rashi to leave Kashin (Arunoday Singh) for him.
Karina has a better life living in Bandra with a pious Catholic mom, Blossom (Ratna Pathak Shah), and engaged to Samuel Misquitta (Kunaal Roy Kapur). However, she dreams of more; independence from her mother's nagging, and a little more romance than Sam has to offer.
After they (Sanjay and Karina) hit it off at a colleague's wedding, they connive a marriage of convenience. Neither of them can afford a house, but can together access a housing scheme loan for their own space in Mumbai. 550 square feet of carpet area in Mumbai is enough of an incentive to find a way past every other emotion.
Director and dialogue writer, Anand Tiwari, creates a wonderful world of characters — flawed, funny, and unique in their commonness. Their dreams, fears, and charms are identifiable and form the USP of the film.
Tiwari allows the story to move seamlessly from the quirky practicality of Mumbai's dwellers to the inescapable romance that is budding. It does segue into the typical romance through the middle, but the complications of the plot do make for some interesting turns.
What is heartwarming though is the bits of interaction between the families stuck in these inhospitable living conditions.
Supriya Pathak as the cajoling, sweet mother, and Ratna Pathak Shah as the Catholic aunty are perfect. They are ably supported by Raghuvir Yadav's singing railway man, and a brilliant ensemble cast that is spot on.
Angira Dhar is fantastic as the charming dreamer Karina. Her natural flair and a very expressive face make for a charming combination. Vicky Kaushal continues to deliver another fine performance as Sanjay Chaturvedi. He walks the tightrope between exasperation and naivety with elan. The chemistry between the two is another factor that raises the level of the scenes.
Tiwari and dialogue writer Sumeet Vyas deliver an impressive film peppered with dialogues that are real. From the touch of Goan English to the little-slice of life incidents, the scenes feel relatable and compact.
Although the screenplay sags a bit through the middle as the film transitions from a comic romance to a complex one, the capable acting keeps you glued.
The film's only flaw is that it takes the way of the familiar romance after a while. But everyone deserves some space for that. Even those struggling in cramped one room apartments in a city bursting at its seams.
Love Per Square Foot was released directly on Netflix on Valentine's Day (14 February).