‘Love Per Square Foot’ review: Condominium Pandemonium

LICH rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5) (This rating is only a snapshot. The details are in the words.)

In director Anand Tiwari‘s Netflix original, the perpetual search for an affordable home in a megapolis such as Mumbai gets a sweet real estate cinematic deal. Love Per Square Foot looks at the impossible dream of buying an apartment in the city, but gives it a light, sparkling touch—and isn’t exactly that, what separates a dream from a nightmare or despairing hope?

Software engineer Sanjay Chaturvedi (Vicky Kaushal) wears the most sparkling View-Master of them all as he aspires to own a house in a high-rise, for now content to pretend to be a caped superhero, ready to fly into a neighboring apartment and get away from the daily drudgery of waiting for father Bhaskar (Raghubir Yadav) to finish his daily ablutions before he can get into act of relieving his manic urge…of hunting real-estate deals in the classifieds. Trying to maintain sanity between the two men is mother Lata (Supriya Pathak Kapur), irresistibly looking at the upside of the squabbling boys, maintaining the right notes, even if one key is broken on papa’s harmonium. Sanjay’s also looking to depressurize his urges with his office hookup, HR manager Rashi Khurana (Alankrita Sahai, superbly manipulative), who’s being a mistress-slave tease with him even as she purportedly toys with the idea of dumping hubby Kashin (Arunoday Singh). Elsewhere, the Christian mother-daughter duo of Karina D’Souza (Angira Dhar)—connected to Sanjay in ways more than one—and Blossom (Ratna Pathak Shah) long to escape their plaster-falling-like-dandruff space, and have their hopes hinged on the former’s fiancé, Samuel Misquitta (Kunaal Roy Kapur).

Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar struggle to find their own space.
Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar struggle to find their own space.

Cowriting with Sumeet Vyas (who also wrote the crackling dialogues with Asif Ali Beg), the director raddles together these characters and their stories to deliver a mostly satisfying caper that’s featherweight in its touch but aspires for some heft as well. Thankfully, even as the movie traverses the comforting arc of a rom-com, it never takes itself too seriously to drag it down. It does employ, along the way, the age-old misunderstanding-and-miscommunication trope; and some of the songs, placed at very predictable turns, become the completely avoidable headwinds in this enterprise,  but what keeps the movie—and you—going are the sterling performances and some truly well-formed sequences. 2018 is the year Vicky Kaushal can do no wrong, and even if you’ve been watching him onscreen at regular intervals throughout this circa, not for once do you feel overexposed to the actor. That’s mostly because of the diversely well-written roles that he’s snagged; and more importantly, he’s added a new dimension in each one of his outings, ranging from the outright loud and likeable to the downright dignified and loveable. Here, he’s one among us, wanting what we want, making the same mistakes we would, stumbling and regretting tripping others—especially his loved one. Kaushal’s act is earnest, mischievous, and irresistible.

Ratna Pathak Shah, Angira Dhar, and Vicky Kaushal size up the situation.
Ratna Pathak Shah, Angira Dhar, and Vicky Kaushal size up the situation.

As Karina, Angira Dhar is superb, matching Vicky Kaushal’s intensity frown by frown, adding a dash of everyday likeability to her act. She does slip up once in a way in her Mahim-Bandra Christian accent, but there’s the marvelous Ratna Pathak Shah to prop things up. As Blossom, she’s mind-bogglingly good, lifting your heart in one scene with rip-roaring timing and breaking it with devastating effect in the next. Her accent and dialogue delivery is impeccable, as is real-life sister Supriya Pathak Kapur’s act loveable. Then there’s the matchless Raghubir Yadav as Sanjay’s father who has his own moment of tearing you up when he realizes his dream in his swan song announcement over the city’s suburban station—singing a Rahul Dev BurmanKishore Kumar number that epitomized the journey of life in Gulzar‘s lines, even as the composer masterfully coated the underlying philosophy with a sheen of rim-shots and catchy riffs. How you wish announcements on railway platforms were made of these. There’s also a delicately romantic scene between Kaushal and Dhar in an overcrowded coach, the magic of the moment broken into the present with a superb cameo by Brijendra Kala.

Supriya Pathak Kapur and Raghubir Yadav are superb.
Supriya Pathak Kapur and Raghubir Yadav are in perfect harmony-ium.

The movie’s highlight however, is when the Chaturvedi-D’Souza families meet for the first time—much like a similar scene was the highlight of the Marathi movie Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai 2, where the stellar Prashant Damle hypnotized you with a doff to one of his own numbers—and Yadav sits at the harmonium and brings harmony to the proceedings by delivering a goose-bumpy rendition of the single-malt equivalent, haunting Hemant Kumar number, Ye Nayan Dare Dare (These eyes filled with fear). This is where the Pathak sisters interact for the first time, and you laugh and have goose bumps, all at the same time.

Love Per Square Foot throws the measurements of the apartment that Sanjay aspires for, only into its 45th minute of running. It’s then that you realize that one man’s pad is another man’s ultimate castle; and that no matter howsoever luxurious the house of our fantasies, reality has a heartbreaking way of scaling down realty.

LICH ratings chart
1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5): Don’t bother
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5): Not too great
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5): Worth a watch
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5): Very good
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5): Drop everything else NOW

Love Per Square Foot (2018) on IMDb

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Love Per Square Foot is rated U/A (Parental Guidance for children below the age of 12 years)

Love Per Square Foot
Director Anand Tiwari Running Time 2h 13min
Writers Anand Tiwari, Sumeet Vyas
Stars Vicky Kaushal, Angira Dhar, Alankrita Sahai, Ratna Pathak Shah, Supriya Pathak Kapur, Raghubir Yadav
Genres  Comedy, Romance

Watch the trailer of Love Per Square Foot here: