Meghna Ramaswamy’s film, What Are The Odds?, currently streaming on Netflix, is all about strange beginnings, friendships and music that you will somehow relate to. Our lead characters, Vivek, who is a girl (talking of unusual, eh?), and Ashwin (the cute school head boy) are set about on a journey which is filled with “ghair mamuli” elements but is so real that you feel it.
It is about finding friendship, or in a wider term companionship in whimsical but not-always-happy places. The establishing shots have beautifully shown contrasts between the two lead characters, they come together and get along even though they are on two different ends.
An eccentric character (Vivek) finding a friend in a popular, pretty, perfect human (Ashwin) is not out of the ordinary because we have seen such friendships so many times till the point where it feels like a sore cliche, but What Are The Odds? doesn’t feel like that. Vivek and Ashwin are regular school students who miss their exams, do all sorts of not-so-regular things in a day which includes encountering a person who takes a leak standing on the railing of a roof! Oh, and there’s a goldfish named Bunty who talks. There are similarities between Vivek and Ashwin too, you’ll eventually figure that out along with time.
There is simple storytelling…
What Are The Odds? has a pleasant, unusual story which will feel close to the heart. The characters come with their quirks, the plot tends to get a little wacky, so storytelling remains straightforward. The film and the characters are treated well, even though it is about two teenagers, who are super zany in their own ways, trying to figure out life by swimming out of their fishbowls, the characters have layers and depth to them. All of these elements are dealt with in an effortless manner.
Odd, outlandish but plentiful with real elements…
There are so many cinematographic moments which I felt was very authentic in What Are The Odds?. The character that Yashaswini Dayama plays (Vivek) is relatable, likeable (barring a few quirks) and earnest. The way the film shows the chaotic, disorganised life of a teenager who, what seemed light-heartedly, talks about surveillance and existentialism will feel very organic. These teenagers talk about mummy and daddy issues, inner conflicts and struggles within the family.
There’s a friendship that’s trying to grow despite the obvious differences in What Are The Odds? There’s that rooftop scene where Ashwin’s eyes start to get droopy from day-drinking straight from the bottle and puking afterwards to a period stain on Vivek’s bed that was attempted to be normalised… all these aspects of the storytelling will make you feel like this is a story put together in pieces that you too have somewhere experienced.
A need for a stronger narrative…
However, What Are The Odds? has a loose, uneven narrative because of which the plot tends to lose direction and meaning at certain times. The movie tends to become a bit of a bore too. There are promising characters in the film who could have delivered collectively but they are made to look inconsequential. There is a grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s and who believes that it will snow in Mumbai. There’s also our favourite Abhay Deol whose character is so underutilised that it barely finds a place in the whole narrative. Priyanka Bose and Monica Dogra are reduced to mere props in this film which is also quite disappointing.
What Are The Odds? is a character-driven drama which has very less to offer in terms of an interesting climactic point. The characters are left high and dry a couple of times due to a plot that becomes purposeless. The climactic high is shortlived in the film.
There is innocence, vibrancy around mundanity but there’s a message most importantly that the film leaves on for its viewers – to find happiness in unlikely places, to make and cherish friendships which are unusual, to pursue companionship no matter which point of your life you’re living in. What Are The Odds? probably stands for finding joy, magic, hope, love and smiling often. You tend to look past the incoherent narrative at the end of the film. And also probably forgive Meghna for not letting Abhay Deol light up our screens for a much longer time (who are we kidding? Maybe not that.)
Despite being an oddball of a film with eccentric, less etched out characters, watch What Are The Odds? for the message it wants to send across and believe in it… because what are the odds? It might just start snowing outside your window!
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