Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

January 31, 2014

Two times nothing!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:34 pm

January 31, 2014

Cast: Abhay Deol, Preeti Desai, Rati Agnihotri, Lilette Dubey, Darshan Jariwala, Jayant Kriplani, Anish Trivedi, Yashika Dhillon

Director: Devika Bhagat

The two protagonists in One By Two – a software guy (Abhay Deol) and a dancer (Preeti Desai) – don’t meet until the very last scene of the film. It’s an unusual and even a fascinating idea to construct a movie around, but writer-director Devika Bhagat can’t seem to come up with a compelling enough screenplay to beef up that idea.

Abhay’s character Amit, still heartbroken from having been dumped by his girlfriend, spends all his time moping, or fantasizing that she will return to him soon. Meanwhile, Preeti’s character Samara, is frustrated from her dancing career going nowhere. We watch as their lives run parallel, which means we get repeated split-screens and far too many instances of ‘missed connections’.

One of the problems with this film is that it plays out like a sitcom. There’s enough chick-lit philosophizing to make you barf, and supposedly adult characters who behave like overgrown teens. So Amit is comfortable enough around his buddies to break wind when his tummy rumbles. But when the same gag is repeated thrice over, you know they’ve run out of ideas.

There’s an excruciatingly stupid subplot involving Amit and his friends hacking into the software of a dance reality show in order to sabotage the producer’s job, because he’s dating Amit’s ex. Inevitably, Amit’s meddling with the software will have a consequence on Samara, who’s got her hopes pinned on winning that show.

Neither of the two is having much luck at home either. Amit’s mother (Rati Agnihotri) is desperate for her son to get married, and takes it upon herself to fix him up with a prospective bride. Samara, for her part, the illegitimate daughter of a married big shot, is keen to reconnect with her estranged daddy, while caring for her alcoholic mum (Lilette Dubey). You see, there’s a lot going on here, and yet, nothing that drives the film’s plot. There’s no conceivable reason why we in the audience, should care for these two to end up together. Other than the fact that they’re both not particularly likeable people and hence probably deserve to be together.

Abhay Deol has very little to work with, and not enough charisma to salvage this flawed material. He’s pretty good in one scene in which he shocks a roomful of guests by belting out a rebellious track on his guitar, dressed only in his boxers and a vest. Preeti Desai, his real-life girlfriend, is easy on the eye, but has a long way to go in the histrionics department. Her dancing skills too, are average at best…unforgivable in a film that relies so heavily on them.

One By Two tries hard to break the mold of Bollywood rom-coms, but seldom offers scenarios or characters that are refreshingly original. A feisty young girl whom Amit dates on his mother’s insistence steals the film in only a couple of scenes. She’s got what the film badly needed – oodles of spunk.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Devika Bhagat’s One By Two. To quote a song from this very film: I’m just pakaoed!


(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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