Read Watch Listen - 2018

Love Per Square Foot: Excess and Restraint Wrapped in Rom-Com

By Jennifer Allen

Netflix released its first Bollywood film to its exclusive audience base on Valentine's Day, a move which seems fitting considering the Romantic Comedy theme of Love Per Square Foot.

The story, written by director Anand Tiwari and Sumeet Vyas, focuses on a new building in Mumbai which offers a lottery for apartments. The catch? This deal is only available for married couples.

We've all been 20-somethings out in the world wanting a new place to call our own. In the case of this story, these 20-somethings are Sanjay Chatuvedi (Vicky Kaushal), an IT software engineer working at Centrum Bank (which he claims he only applied for specifically so getting a home loan would be easier), and Karina D'Souza (newcomer Angira Dhar) who works in said home loan department at the same bank.

Both Sanjay and Karina live with their respective families and seek to find their own place. Both are also in somewhat awkward relationships at the movie's start. He's having an affair with the very bossy (she often refers to him as “slave") and very married Rashi (Alankrita Sahay) who runs the HT department, while Karina is engaged to Sam (Kunal Roy Kapur) who is one step below outright becoming a Catholic priest.

The two meet at a wedding reception for mutual friends and sparks start to fly during one of the most unique versions of the “Chicken Dance" in film to date. Some sexual innuendos aside, these two are relatively shy towards each other at first. It's only later when Sanjay slides into the home loan office and realizes that Karina oversaw his home loan application (and denied it due to his income) that they can pretend to be a couple and apply for the apartment together.

A secondary part of the story is the fact that Karina's family is Catholic (emphasized in comedic fashion by the fact there's a Jesus picture on almost every bit of wall space in her family's flat) and Sanjay's family is Hindu (their place is a little more subdued but the parents' strict customs are a bit over the top). Both her mother and his parents are not too keen about this relationship, whether fake or not. This excess is meant to further explain why both Sanjay and Karina want to move out.

While the film overall has some cute and endearing moments (All the scenes with Sanjay's father - played by Raghubir Yadav - wanting to be a singer are very touching) it does follow a very formulaic Rom-Com storyline. Boy meets girl. Boy & girl slowly fall for each other despite being in other unfulfilling relationships. Boy does something stupid and girl breaks it off. Crazy events help them come back together. Its cliché at this point, but it still seems to make us smile every time.

Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar are very believable in their awkwardness that slowly transition into love over the course of the story. In fact they are about the only mundane people in the film as they are surrounded by supremely the over-the-top tropes of religions and personalities. While the movie and its premise are nothing new in any language, this Hindi-English production is well worth a look and a few laughs.