Director: Prathamesh Patil
Cast: Naveen Kasturia, Gunjan Malhotra
There’s much to be said about two young actors that make a blind date at a heavily branded derby in a heavily branded short film seem like the sweetest thing. You’d think Naveen Kasturia and Gunjan Malhotra were actually meeting for the first time. In Half Ticket, they oscillate between bashful and awkward, needy and hopeful – without even for a second letting you doubt their nerves, naivety and a cinema-inspired secret desire to find “the one”.
They’re single, but not ready to mingle in the most obvious way, which makes their unassuming, ice-breaking moments watchable – like eavesdropping on a cute encounter, blushing with them, wincing at their little misgivings. Just from the way they hesitate, you wonder what sort of typically Mumbai-yuppie workaholic lifestyles they’ve been forced to lead; there’s this bubble of loneliness around them that not even rakish banter with their closest friends compensates for. This chemistry makes up for their story’s silly templates (plenty of happenstance, product placement, a rigid boss invoking his worst Dalip Tahil impression).
There’s much to be said about two young actors that make a blind date at a heavily branded derby in a heavily branded short film seem like the sweetest thing
Kasturia has long embodied that ‘rambling between dialogues’ Ted-Mosby-ness. Whenever he puts on his I-shouldn’t-be-here poker face, he turns into a familiar manifestation of social inadequateness – embodying the confused spirit of the million droopy 20-somethings who leave their North Indian homes everyday to ‘experience’ the pace of Mumbai. That’s not to say he paints a restless picture of the typical struggler; in fact, you’d think each of his characters leave their comfortable, cocooned existence to show an ex that they’re tough enough to survive this city – in the process, finding a life and love, as the quintessential urban underdog.
Gunjan Malhotra, who I first noticed as the best thing about Tevar, compliments this reluctant-to-easygoing aura. I wonder why I’m not seeing her enough on the internet – a far more appropriate and challenging medium than today’s mechanical big screen. Hopefully, even Kasturia refrains from being a ‘hero ka dost’ in glossy star vehicles. Along with Mithila Palkar and a few others, they can become the “original” faces of the web-series/short culture – the ones that evolve and find their voice through it, instead of the many actors who are now reverse-jumping onto the web bandwagon. Showcase films like this go a long way in furthering their fast-burgeoning, and very affable, reputation.
I, for one, wouldn’t mind that one bit. Without all that beer, though.
Watch Half-Ticket here: