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January 31, 2014

Movie Review: 'One By Two'


Star Cast: Abhay Deol, Preeti Desai, Lillete Dubey, Rati Agnihotri, Preetika Chawla, Geetika Tyagi, Darshan Jariwala

Director : Devika Bhagat


Paneer gives Amit Sharma gas. Persistent flatulence isn’t exactly the most endearing traits in a rom com hero. That Sharma (Abhay Deol) is prone to breaking foul wind without a shred of embarrassment makes us wrinkle our noses. But it also makes him, a little way into the film, more human. We like that Sharma is no beefcake, no gym rat, no serial dater: he’s a regular guy, who wears regular clothes, goes to office, hangs out with his buddies, and is still stuck on his former girlfriend who dumped him.

That a rom com makes us wait for the meet-cute moment is unusual. One By Two does this with almost geometric zeal, giving us man and his doings, and the woman and hers, in a parallel track. When will the twain meet? This Devika Bhagat-written and directed romantic comedy should have been much better than it is, given its attempt at adding a couple of its own tics to the territory.

The trouble begins with it not being able to find the right rhythm. The first half, where nothing happens over and over again, is a drag. Once you’ve set the scene, and introduced us to the characters, we need more. It’s only post interval that the film gathers some momentum, and gives us a bit of drama, and reason to see it through.

The other is the leading lady herself. Preeti Desai, Abhay Deol’s real-life girlfriend, has an attractive presence, and does all right in scenes that don’t demand much. But the moment she is asked for more, she falters. And given that she’s meant to be a dancer who wants to make it to the top, (and the reason why so much of this film is shot like a TV dance competition show, which makes it more sit com than rom com) her dancing skills aren’t great either.

Deol can’t hold it all by himself. He’s mostly seen goofing off with his office pals, and looking a little too old for the foolery. He’s nursing a broken heart for an old flame for no discernible reason. He has one scene that lifts him and the film, which involves him in his briefs, a guitar, a potential Punjabi bride-to-be, and her aghast parents.

This is a case of missed opportunities. Trying for likeability is tough when the film is saddled with a listless plot and pace. And actors trying to lend it some heft, especially veterans like Rati Agnihotri and Jayant Kriplani, but not being able to because they don’t get enough. Lillete Dubey is an exception: as the wife and mother who wants to do the right thing, she comes off well. There’s a nice cameo of a garrulous girl who crunches wafers noisily right through her first date. The zaniness of Deol-in-his-boxers makes us laugh, even if it feels a trifle contrived.

You wish that One By Two had been half as much fun.

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