The basic concept of the film is quite good. A not-so-young single lady trying to find a match on the Internet. Finding a partner through the online medium is the reality of our times and the fact that it addresses a generation that is a bit over-the-age makes it interesting. Also, it’s novel as it’s driven from the perspective of a woman.
After introducing the protagonist’s problem quickly, the film’s progression falters as there isn’t much tension that builds up and keeps us engaged with the struggles of the characters. It banks on the ‘funniness’ factor, with an attempt to show two opposite characters going on a unique journey together. However, the characters’ idiosyncrasies and the funny situations don’t work, as the story development or discovering new aspects of characters isn’t properly dealt with.
I am convinced that if this film was 20 minutes shorter, it still would have felt long.
(I will write my comments, and even specify the areas, which technically in a coverage are not mentioned).
Storyline / Concept / Conflict
The idea of Jaya and Yogi going on a journey together looks good as one can showcase various settings and the fact that they will get to know each other better. For this to work, the goals not only have to be clear to the audience but importantly, the stakes have to be set. Accomplishing this over the entire story needs to come across through dealing with obstacles ensuring that there is a strong dramatic conflict.
What does it mean for Jaya to find a partner? What happens if she fails to find one? What is stopping Jaya from overcoming her problem? The latter, in this specific story, drives the central conflict, which is internal – she needs to overcome her inner issues or change to be more open. Unfortunately, the conflict is not pronounced. The stakes are amiss. These critical questions on what it will mean for Jaya don’t clearly come across.
Jaya is supposed to be stuck with the past, with her husband who has passed away, but this is only a lip service done in the beginning and when Yogi brings it about. In the end, it resolves too conveniently. You don’t see Jaya struggling with it. She is also shown to have certain characteristics, which she is likely to overcome in the end, but these don’t have an impact. Like not sharing water bottle, which eventually happens in the end. What are these limitations doing for the story or even for her character?
Yes, there is one element that is highlighted – Yogi’s carefree demeanor versus a guarded Jaya, and by the nature of going on a trip with him, she is challenged. This does result in a change, but this payoff isn’t a big one. Jaya is an independent lady. She lives on her own. She does decide to go with him. Showing her surprised over Yogi's different-from-her's attitude can work for a bit or two but not all the way.
The wise-crack Yogi is also supposed to change in the end when on hearing the word ‘boyfriend’ he takes action. Again, his struggle or hang-ups are not set up and explored appropriately. As such the payoff is weak.
The critical question – what is the story about – is not answered to fruition. One doesn’t feel engaged with the problems or tensions of the characters in the middle. As such, the end seems hurried and resolution tame.
The story needed deep work, if not in the beginning itself, then during the 2nd Act. The problem is made clear at the start – Jaya has been single for a while and after a push from her friend (archetype – angel) she attempts to find a partner. But how much it matters to her, what are the stakes, what happens if she gives up the chase? These are the questions not coming out strongly. Even if it’s in her subconscious, they ought to come across, be it in an indirect or subtle manner.
The 2nd Act starts when she goes on the trip with Yogi but mainly, the focus throughout is on playing out fun situations, scene after scene. The emotional heft brought about what she feels or displayed by why is she doing this trip, is missing. Be it taking a flight, a train or a cab, the scenes do not deliver insight into character’s growth or highlight conflict explicitly.
The middle act needs to raise the tempo. Jaya’s desire to have a companion should be emphasized. There are situations that show her losing the company of Yogi in the midst of the travel, which was a good opportunity to reveal her inner conflicts. She wants company. She goes with a man who is a polar opposite. She is, perhaps, miffed with his personality and regrets being with him. But when she loses him, even for a few hours, a nice twist, that was chance to throw insights into her.
There could have been subplots to explore her issues deeply. Instead of a supportive brother, some problem with him may have helped to put some momentum in the middle, which could have resolved in the final act, rounding off her better.
What is being resolved in the end and how does it affect Jaya in the middle or beginning is lacking amidst the leg-pulling or cute-fights that is not doing much for the story. There is no view of the conflict rising and great character revelation occurring.
In the final act, one can see a predictable end, which doesn’t deliver. In fact, Jaya’s outburst at Yogi, is quite out of line, by what we have been shown throughout the film. If this was actually a setup, which would be paid off by getting together with Yogi, all happening in the last 10 minutes, then it was a long time coming. Besides, showing a fight over his demeanor earlier, maybe as a good turning point at the midpoint would have clarified the issues of Jaya clearly and even put Yogi on an alert.
Everything turning out fine in the end, with no proper setup, is a feeble resolution. Besides, the lack of roles for other two characters - ex-friends of the two, who crop up in the end also seemed forced; as if the realization happened that the story didn’t have much momentum and it was perhaps better to close the story.
Who is the protagonist of the film? This question highlights a problem with the story. When you set up a character as your central figure, in this film Jaya, she is the one who needs to be driving the action.
From beginning to middle and interestingly, even at the end, when Yogi runs to go for her, she tends to be a passive character. This stems from the fact that Jaya’s character lacks the will. As such the character is not driving the action.
She does set the ball rolling by making her profile, but once the Yogi character comes into play, she is reactive for most of the story. It’s evident that Yogi, the male character is the quirky one, who tends to be more engrossing to watch, but if he takes the important calls, then it gets difficult to identify with Jaya. Not putting Jaya at the forefront also robbed us of viewing her dealing with her conflicts, even if she is reactive. We need to see her struggle, the challenges she faces and how she deals with and eventually resolves.
The other characters, her friends, including the salon circle, are present to bring laughs by expressing a certain setting. She isn’t comfortable with it, and sure, in the end, she will learn to deal with it, but there should have been more depth with at least one or two side characters. They would have helped in fleshing out Jaya much more.
The big opportunity lost was in the brother of her character. If you take him out, it wouldn’t have made much difference to the story. We could have seen Jaya being more active. That backstory, of her family, wasn’t needed. Yet, video chatting with the brother, the new norm of today was definitely an interesting device. Adding some conflict with him could have opened new doors for us to see the development of Jaya. Strangely, the brother becomes an angel for Yogi, which is not unconvincing, but again, we don’t see it coming as such from Yogi.
It is to the credit of Irrfan Khan that he brings a certain demeanor, the pauses, that does show his character being conflicted or lost. So when the brother mentions the word, boyfriend, it hits him and he goes chasing Jaya at the end, which seems to work. But again, it is a problem – if Jaya is the primary protagonist, she is the one who should be doing the running. Her character arc (growth) is quite all over the place.
Bringing an ex-flame of Jaya at the end and justifying that as her reason to go with Yogi (to Gangtok) perhaps was an intended twist to surprise audience. Does it work? It would if it reveals some unique aspect of her character or takes the plot forward. Coming just at the end it doesn’t mean much. As a plot device, it may have had merits – creating a rift for the supposedly indifferent Yogi or showing Jaya’s longing for a man. This ‘chilled or cool’ friendship between two old friends doesn’t add any drama.
The tone of the film is of course, light-hearted, but by filling it up with silly characters and such situations, it doesn’t augur well if we don’t relate with Jaya’s character, her predicament. The journey is for a reason. The interaction on the trip will shape her and perhaps, even him. But by focusing too sharply on the funny, it fails to bring in the dramatic truths about her character.
As the stakes are not strong, the pace seems tardy. How much can one watch the same (humorous) acts if it doesn’t raise the tension? The change of settings is refreshing but as the story progresses in the (challenging) middle act, it ought to reveal more and present more obstacles.
Eventually, what’s the story about? What’s the underlying idea or theme of the film? Is it that you ought to come out of your comfort zone and experience life as it flows? Or is it that you can only find a new partner or a new beginning when you let go of the past? Well, intellectually, one may draw various inferences, but when you watch a film, nothing sits well.
Some parts also look contrived for effects. The (typical?) Jaya drunken scene. Her sudden outburst at the end. If we meet two ex-girlfriends of Yogi why is the 3rd one missing, when that’s what has been set up right from the beginning – going to meet his three female friends? Likely, while editing they realized that the flow was not fluid.
I am sure, the filmmakers, maybe Zee as well thought that this can be a great film. You have two good actors. Nice, novel concept. Going on a journey, shooting at different places and showing new terrains to the audience, appears to be a positive factor. However, if your characters are not in sync with their goals, if their problems are not pronounced and if we don’t see them struggling through till the end, then it sure is very difficult to pull through. Eventually, you need to set up, respect and pay off the dramatic conflict.
Even with Irrfan Khan wanting to be a co-producer and actor, this screenplay should not have been approved until it was sorted out. It required a lot of slog.
Building a strong script requires going back and forth many times to ensure the dramatic conflict is clear and it helps if you work extra hard on it. Zee Films may see it differently and so may Irrfan Khan Production but the response also shows that the film didn’t hit its mark. It had a potential with its concept and two skilled leads but the challenge was in crafting a dramatic story.
If it doesn’t work on the paper, it will not on the screen.
If it doesn’t work on the paper, it will not on the screen.