Mumbai, 12 Mar 2020 8:30 IST
The film, directed by KL Prasad, is still worth watching for the compelling performances.
Screenplay starts with a couple arguing about divorce. The wife, who seems very angry and aggressive, is hell-bent on the divorce. The husband, on the other hand, seems to be a passive guy. The argument ends when the guy agrees to the divorce, but on a condition. He wants that they spend a day together at a secluded farmhouse that he has recently bought.
The scene is shot in such a manner that we only see shadows and hear the voices of the couple. The general human tendency is to support the passive partner in any argument. Using this psychological trick, the director makes us root for the husband from the beginning. But as the film progresses, we get to see more layers of the husband-wife relations and realize that things are not as black and white as we had imagined.
Gautam (Vikram Shiva) is a famous film director while Radhika (Pragathi Yadhati) is a housewife. She accuses him of having compromised on all the values that he stood for, in his bid to become a successful director. He was once a student union leader who used to raise his voice in support of farmers and people from the lower strata of society. However, since becoming a successful director, he has abandoned all the values that had attracted her to him in the first place, she says.
Director KL Prasad, who also plays an important character in the film, handles these conversational scenes with a lot of maturity. And through just their conversation he reveals the many layers of their relationship. We learn who they were before marriage, how they fell in love and got married, the kind of relationship they had, and how things have changed over the years.
Both husband and wife are flawed, and that's what makes us root for them. It also makes it difficult for the viewer to take sides in this argument. But instead of being just an argument between husband and wife, the film also tries to shed light on serious social issues like rape, male entitlement and farmers' suicides.
Screenplay has only three characters and all three artistes have done a fine job in their respective roles. Vikram Shiva, who plays the husband, is quiet and there is a constant sadness on his face. He plays his character with restraint.
Pragathi is excellent in the wife's role. Her character was more difficult to play as it has both extremes like calm and aggression. Not much can be revealed about Prasad's character, as that would be a spoiler. But he, too, delivers a dedicated performance.
In the first hour, Screenplay keeps you hooked by mainly focusing on the couple's conversations, as they fight and recall their earlier days. But in the second half, the film changes track and tries to create an element of suspense through the character played by Prasad.
But to do so, the film makes narrative choices that don't make much sense. There are a few logical loopholes that one can't overlook. Also, the final revelations are underwhelming. One cannot understand why Gautam would go to such extremes to persuade his wife.
The film is also strictly average technically, especially the camerawork and production design. It has a very daily-soap-like setting. Screenplay starts on a promising note, offering something new. But then it ends up as another run-of-the-mill drama because of the conventional climax.
Screenplay was screened at the Third Eye Asian Film Festival at Mumbai's Ravindra Natya Mandir on 5 March 2020.
Related topicsThird Eye Asian Film Festival
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