I wish some stories were never translated from an idea to a script and then to a full-length feature film. “Plan A Plan B” is one such film that shouldn’t have had the green signal to go on board and to screen for the audience to watch. This Netflix Original was released on September 30th, 2022.
Directed by Shashanka Ghosha, who has given us the amazing “Aisha” and “Khoobsurat,” sadly, here gave us a run-down version of a typical romantic comedy with no romance or comedy. “Plan A Plan B” begins with Nirali (Tammana Bhatia), who goes from a marriage counselor to a proprietor of a match-making website believing giving any relationship a second chance—sharing her workspace with Kaustubh Chougule (Riteish Deshmukh), a divorce attorney who strongly believes in parting from marriage if it doesn’t work out. The hypocritical part of his belief system is that he is unwilling to sign the divorce papers because his wife had cheated on him and left him subsequently. On the other hand, Nirali is still hung up on her deceased boyfriend, and is uninterested in having a relationship since his untimely death. Nirali and Kaustubh cannot stand each other from day one, and how they go from hating each other to slowly becoming accustomed to one another, to start understanding and eventually loving one another, forms the story of “Plan A Plan B.”
Writer Rajat Arora has given a wafer-thin form to an inconsistent story which could break easily (that it does) and the crumbles of this wafer-thin story are all over the place, just like the screenplay. The screenplay adds nothing to the already overused story of a man and a woman falling in love after months of hating one another. The screenplay lacks the emotions and depth required to pull off a story about a woman who lost her boyfriend and a man who is on the verge of a divorce but not able to come to terms with it. Also, isn’t it time for writers to stop generalizing when it comes to putting across scenes of conflict or disagreement between “north Indians” and “south Indians”? By adding dialogues like “paratha vs. rasam/idli/dosa,” it becomes nothing but a downright racist, unfunny, overused 90s trope of cultural appropriation. As someone from Kerala, hearing such dialogues boils my blood and makes me wonder if Hindi cinema writers haven’t learned anything in the last decade about how to portray people from a specific region who seem different from the people of the Hindi-speaking belt. It is disgusting and distasteful. There must be a better way to showcase such topics and lace them with humor.
The story and direction go from point 1 to point z, or we can say Plan A to Plan B, but it does not make sense at any point. The direction is all over the place, which does not help in taking the narrative forward. Also, just because it is set in the current era of the internet, dating apps, and social media, that does not mean adding gen z terms into the dialogues will make it seem hip and happening. It does not work that way. This story had plenty of inaccuracies and potholes that crashed the screenplay and the direction royally. Everything becomes extremely predictable after a point, which is the case with any romantic comedy, but a good romantic comedy only stands out if it gets the emotions right. “Plan A Plan B” majorly lacked the emotions required to empathize with Nirali, Kaustubh, or other characters surrounding them. The writers have put emphasis on making a marriage work and making divorce sound like the worst thing in the world. This kind of message-giving is problematic, especially amongst the youth who are very independent and are not willing to compromise. The screenplay also fails to establish the point at which Kaustubh and Nirali fell for one another. The intimate scene happened so suddenly, which felt rushed as no time was given to trace the transformation. They were cordial to one another, but when did that become love? Also, today, in the age of OTT, intimate scenes can be shot in a better way. Nirali, being a psychologist herself, does not empathize with Kaustubh’s OCD, which is the biggest flaw in the film.
The writer and the director of “Plan A Plan B” tried to pull a Silver Linings Playbook but failed miserably. The dance sequence in the end between the lead and the male lead following her to confess his true feelings seemed very similar to Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of a bipolar man looking for true love. Incidentally, Kaustubh also has severe OCD in “Plan A Plan B.” The similarities are uncanny. In every romantic comedy, the climatic sequence contains a clichéd scene, which in this case, fails. Hindi cinema has just discovered Hollywood-style romantic comedies but is unable to nail the genre as they had in the last three decades. Hindi cinema needs good stories, good emotions, good actors, and a slight suspension of disbelief, and something that makes your heart smile out of the sheer joy of watching two deserving people get together. Hindi cinema has a long way to go when it comes to nailing this genre, even though 90s Bollywood was filled with full-blown romantic movies but never somehow got hold of the comedy bit. “Plan A Plan B” needed a lot of polishing work before it went on the floor for shooting. The editing, music, and mediocre cinematography did not help the film. The performances of all the actors felt very basic, except for Poonam Dhillon, who seemed like she was having the time of her life.
I’m not sure why Netflix India is green-lighting such mediocre screenplays. It is jarring to see the path Netflix India is taking in terms of coming up with original content. Netflix India should really step back and reinvent itself and come back with better original content for the audience. I don’t know what to say, but we advise you to avoid this film at any cost, or to seem less harsh, watch “Plan A Plan B” on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon when you have nothing to do and a few hours to kill.
“Plan A Plan B” is 2022 Indian Romance Drama film streaming on Netflix with subtitles.