What Are The Odds movie review: Abhay Deol, Yashaswini Dayama’s ode to Wes Anderson is cute but not crazy enough
What Are The Odds?
Director: Meghna Ramaswamy
Cast: Yashaswini Dayama, Karanvir Malhotra, Abhay Deol
There is something to be said about a filmmaker who attempts to emulate a Hollywood genius in her very first film. Meghna Ramaswamy gets the aesthetic right but not quite the whimsical heart of Wes Anderson and his glorious movies in her debut, What Are The Odds?
Netflix’s latest lockdown release is What Are The Odds, a sweet slice of a film about the lives of two school kids from Mumbai. Vivek (Yashaswini Dayama) and Ashwin (Karanvir Malhotra) are supposed to appear for a Hindi scholarship exam. She is the rebellious, edgy one who protests all from an education to gender-conforming names while he is the charming head boy with ‘his perfect face’ and a life with no issues. But everything goes for a toss when she decides to play Passengers on him and steals both their admit cards, leading them to spend an entire day together and become friends.
Watch the trailer for What Are The Odds:
Soon as they step out of the school, craziness begins and we hit peak Wes Anderson. Senior citizens dance in the streets in red tracksuits, women with bob cuts create ‘art’ with people in pastel outfits, kids act like adults and the adults act like kids. And all through this, the cinematography remains exquisite. Gorgeously symmetrical wide shots make for almost 90% of the run time and letters and random items land right in the middle of your screen. And there are so many people in costumes. One dresses up as a bush in a forest, another puts on a bear’s mascot suit at a club and choir kids put on the joker’s red nose. It is all very pretty and will give you a tonne of lovely screenshots for your film review, but other than that, it serves little purpose.
I might have given the artistic choices a little more credit if Meghna would have stuck with it through the length of the film. For instance, the film takes a decided turn towards ‘normal’ in the third part with the flashback, featuring Abhay Deol as a rockstar and the object of Vivek’s desire. Abhay, whose part in the film can at best be termed a special appearance, has nothing even slightly not-normal about him. He makes rational choices, wears ordinary clothes, says the usual things. And with him, even Vivek and the film embrace the conventional. Meghna abandons the crazy at pivotal points, as if herself tired of keeping up with the complete lack of logic and sense in the footage she has just shot.
But What Are The Odds is still not shallow, despite its clearly devoid-of-meaning antics. Vivek and Ashwin strike an adorable friendship as they go burying a dead fish, booze on a rooftop mid-afternoon and save a man called Amol Palekar from leaping off a roof. And in between all this, they talk about her grandma with Alzheimer’s waiting for her son. Vivek also gives an overwhelmingly wholesome reason for why she believes her father must have abandoned the family. Meanwhile, Ashwin is also a rare revelation— a lead character in a coming-of-age drama without any issues, a ‘generally happy person’ and still not devoid of empathy.
Yashaswini, who has so far been casted as the woke kid of complex parents in series such as Delhi Crime and Made in Heaven, carries Vivek with ease. She can be the rebellious teen throwing fists in the air as well as the happy girl dancing on her bed on the morning of an exam. She seems equally authentic in both the versions. As for Karan, he plays the right foil to her with his composed and calm eyes—even if inspired by daytime drinking. He is charming no doubt, the classic head boy types. He might be near-perfect but he is not unrelatable.
What Are The Odds was reportedly supposed to be a series, which ended up as a short, 90 minute movie that Netflix would not even call an original (it’s a FilmCaravan original acquired by Netflix). Perhaps it is for the best. When one cannot keep up with the crazy in a one-and-half-hour film, what hope would there have been for an entire series? That being said, should you choose to watch the film, and somehow find it on Netflix (I could not find it this morning upon repeated search queries), it will be one-and-half-hour of cute, colourful and sometimes crazy fun.
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