The older generations have a common but a misplaced grouse against the millennials – that the avocado-eating hipsters, the Buzzfeed quiz addicts are lazy, narcissistic, lack direction and are always glued to their smartphones. Not only is this a misconception, the stereotype has often been portrayed on-screen. Particularly in Indian cinema, where they are shown as bratty grown ups with no sense of responsibility.
Love Per Square Foot, Netflix India’s original film and quite aptly released on Valentine’s Day, is a perfect tribute to the what millennials are *actually* like; the ones who are aspirational, hard working and willing to go the extra mile. Despite the snafued economy, they dream big but not so big that it’s unattainable.
Set in this reality, is the story of two middle class Mumbaikars – Sanjay Chaturvedi (Vicky Kaushal) and Karina D’Souza (Angira Dhar). They crave to get away from their matchbox-size homes and have a space of their own, something which the city quite unforgivingly withholds. A city which is bursting at the seams where real estate is high as the skyscrapers, owning a house feels like the burden of Sisyphus but not if you’re ready to sell your soul to the devil.
An innocuous advertisement about the sale of flats for young, married couples, ends up changing Sanjay and Karina’s lives forever. Sanjay, who works at the IT department of a private bank, is an average earner who lives with his overbearing parents. In a house without a room of his own, Sanjay manages to get snatches of private moments, where he often peers into other people’s houses whilst dreaming of his own. To him, getting his own place would be his biggest achievement.
Karina, who works at the loan department of the same bank, harbours similar sentiments. She stays with her mother in a rickety old house and a crumbling ceiling that never fails to throw some slaked lime over their heads. Karina wants to get married to her boyfriend (Kunal Roy Kapoor) but not live with his parents, instead have their own place. This plan, like their relationship, is one-sided.
After meeting at a party and getting to know each others’ aspirations, Karina and Sanjay agree on a marriage of convenience to secure that flat. And somewhere down the line, the two, predictably, fall in love. Soon enough you realise that the entire drama over the flat could be just a metaphor for the two to fall in love and get their lives back on track, the metaphorical birds who fly out of their nests while also defying those ‘millennial’ stereotypes.
Directed by Anand Tiwari, Love Per Square Foot is the non-mushy tribute to space and Mumbai. The camera often pans to the little bits that make the city what it is – the bone-crushing crowds at the local train station, the awning class divide that is evident in the placement of houses, and the nagging feeling to get out and breathe, only to find that there’s no space.
The actors, however, are the real talents here. Vicky Kaushal plays a regular boy but with not-so regular dreams. He’s sincere and yet beleaguered by his messed up relationship status. Angira Dhar, too, nails the regular Mumbai girl who gets down to brass tacks, and tries not to get swayed so easily.
Ratna Pathak Shah as Blossom, Karina’s mother, and Supriya Pathak, Sanjay’s mother, are a delight to watch, especially considering the two have an impeccable comic timing. With the two on screen, the film gets its own lease of life. Despite the minimal screen time, the two, in addition to an earnest Raghubir Yadav, are characters you somehow relate to and come to love.
Love Per Square Foot, though is set in Mumbai, could be anybody’s story who wants to get all their ducks in a row.
Feature Image: Netflix