Movie Review: Love Per Square Feet Is An Ode To Basu Chatterjee!

Directed  by: Anand Tiwari

Rating: *** ½(3 and a half stars)

 Not too many people  write love letters these days. So let’s  celebrate this  love letter from actor-turned-director Anand Tiwari toBasu Chatterjee. Tiwari’s Love per Square Foot , released  on Netflick and  to be released in theatres in April, falls in the space  of those bitter-sweet dramas  about the housing space that we saw in the 1970s.

 You know, Basu Chatterjee Piya Ka Ghar, Bhim Sain’s Garonda  ,  Rajinder Singh Bedi’s Dastak.This is Basu Chatterjee’s universe  unplugged,  updated and remixed, of train commuters, auto riders and  bus travelers falling in love on the road.

With  lot of sex, rather , sexy suggestions of sex, thrown in.In one sequence when Vicky Kaushal’s Sanjay Chaturvedi  is  close-dancing Angira Dhar’s Karina she refers to  the stir in his pelvis region.As he mumbles his explanation his  phone in his pocket rings. She meant that only.

What else could it be.

 Quirkily captivating  Love Per Square Foot  has an endearing cast of charming actors who  plunge into the plot in pursuit of  a space where one can  pitch the tent of one’s post-tenancy dreams. There is an edge of desperation  in Sanjay Chuturvedi and Karina d’Souza’s decision to form a marital alliance in order to procure a joint housing loan.

Vicky Kaushal, who is rapidly  occupying the space for the workingclass hero where Ayushmann Khurrana already has a hold, is every inch Sanjay Chatuvedi who wants nothing more than  a home of his own away from his  well-meaning but annoying parents. Newcomer  Angira Dhar has a Zarina Wahab/Vidya Sinha kind  of  casual grace to her  personality.

The couple’s journey from self-interest to love is  well-charted,though portions of the narrative are enveloped in an uneasy uncertainty.But then there is  Sanjay Chturvedi’s predatory female boss, played with lip-smacking, nail-clawing, lipgloss-melting relish by Alankrita Sahai. In the way she attacks her employee’s pelvic premises in her office,  this woman is clearly a HarveyWeinstein in the making.Truly entertaining if somewhat alarming in her naked selfabsorption.

 But the film and its enchanting narrative propensity clearly favour the older actors. Raghubir Yadav as Vicky Kaushal’s bathroom-singer of a father is  delightful, as is Supriya Pathak as his doting devoted wife.And Ratna Pathak Shah as the leading lady’s harried Catholic  mother with her anxieties and biases brings the house down.

 The  film’s most likable sequence has Ratna  visiting Rahubir and  Supriya to fix up  her daughter’s wedding.To entertain his future samdhan, Rahubir bursts into Yeh nayan darey darey on the harmonium. Ratna is enchanted.  “I’ve heard your voice before…were you on  radio?”  This is where  we get to know that Raghubir was  an announcer on  a railway station .

In  Love Per Square Foot  dreams  come  a long way from their origin in the City Of Dreams as we  get to know character  whom we’ve met,  or have seen  on the road in passing, or probably heard talking  across  a thin wall in  a cheap hotel room.

Admirably no one in this film about defeated dreams wastes time feeling  sorry  for him or herself.

 These are people on the go…never mind where they’re going .At one point  in the story Karina drops in  unannounced at Sanjay’s house.

 “Could we sneak into  your room?” she whispers at his  door.

“I don’t have a room,” he smiles with a gleam  in his eyes that  could be tears. But it is not. Who has the time to cry when the real-estate agent waits with the  key to your kingdom?

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