One By Two
One by Two review: Superficial and bland!
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Friday 31 January 2014
One By Two
Abhay Deol, Preeti Desai, Lillete Dubey, Rati Agnihotri, Darshan Jariwala
The film appears to be clutter-cutting, but it's only superficially so.
Abhay Deol plays boring Amit Sharma with a boring name. That's what his ex-girlfriend calls him when he tries a drunken serenade to win her back. Moping and inattentive at work, the viewer is to believe that he is "the most talented worker" in the office, and the boss's successor. The office has a green lawn outside where Amit and his two friends (a constantly bickering boy and girl who will eventually?.you guessed it right) constantly sit and talk about (only his) life.
On the other end is Samara (Preeti Desai), who is an ambitious dancer. Now hers is an interesting character. Not shying away from feigning illness to beat a queue or to sleeping with someone to get to the top, her character has a shade of grey that makes her more human and real. Things take a turn in her life, when her estranged wealthy father enters her life.
Now, Amit and Samara haven't met yet. They're either involved in other relationships or moping over their ex-lovers. We're shown their individual journeys, often with some clever use of split screen.
He's all set to get married to a totally mismatched person (we're not explained why he doesn't protest strongly enough). Parallel to that, Samara is competing for the top prize at a dance reality show. While she moves gracefully, there's no real dance at all, which is glaring especially when we see her performing for the competition. The constant reference to her beauty is also super-cliched Bollywood stuff.
So yes, a rom-com that doesn't have nuanced, arresting characters is doomed to begin with. In this hellish mix of cliched characters, right on top is Samara's mother. This character played by Lillette Dubey, reinforces the stereotype that a woman could have a great kid, a mind-blowing apartment, and financial security, but she's doomed to be an alcoholic if her man has ditched her. And god forbid, if she's had a child out of wedlock, how can she be stable?
Among other cliched characters are the ?friends? of the hero and heroine who only talk about our central protagonists' lives. So the hero's friends always discuss his work, love-life, philosophy and even his farts. The heroine's solo friend doesn't utter a word about her own life.
About the only respite in the film are the livewire songs and the bit of shayari (poetry) we see. This poetry that sees the cops of Mumbai let out their inner poet is equal parts hilarious and philosophical.
And of course there's Abhay Deol, who is still great despite playing a bland character and farting through most of the movie. It would be easy to judge Preeti Desai and link her presence to being the producer Abhay Deol's girlfriend. But this actress has spunk, confidence, and enough screen presence to hold the viewer's attention.
Writer-director Devika Bhagat (has written Aisha and Manorama Six Feet Under) makes a film that's like an elongated sitcom. The film manages to stand initially, but goes quite berserk towards the finale, much like our characters.
The intention is to bring something unusual to the table, and the film does occasionally succeed in offering a few interesting moments, particularly the shifting equations between Samara and her mother. But otherwise it cannot keep you interested in either the characters or their lives. Sadly in the end, it turns out to be more clutter-inducing than clutter-breaking.
Rating: Two stars