Director: Vishwas Joshi
Cast: Vaibhav Tatwawaadi, Prarthana Behere
At its heart, Vishwas Joshi’s directorial debut What’s up, Lagna hits the nail on an important part of millennial relationships – the growing sense of alienation between couples despite technology. We witness two protagonists who can’t deal with the strain of conflicting work hours or empathise with each others’ fields of work post the fairytale initial months of their wedding.
Within the first five minutes, Joshi establishes the diametrically opposite personalities of his leads. Aakash (Vaibhav Tatwawaadi) is controlled, obsessively organised, and raised to believe in old fashioned Maharashtrian traditions. He’s also been recently promoted at his corporate job. Ananya (Prarthana Behere) is an actress with a theatre background. She refuses to be bound by society’s archaic gender roles and has been raised by a father who’s fiercely supportive of her career. What they have in common is a drive for success at the workplace. This of course poses the evergreen question – What do I value more? My personal life or my job?
Both Tatwawadi and Behere play their parts well. Post their honeymoon (which they’re forced to abandon because Ananya gets a job in a television show), you can see the slow strain on their relationship. The film is largely driven by their chemistry and comic timing. In fact, they save certain scenes that could have come off as incredibly corny.
Joshi, (who’s previously produced Natasamrat) plays it safe. He makes sure his characters voice exactly what they are thinking, leaving nothing for the audience to interpret. His treatment towards their slow building romance is run of the mill. The overwhelming use of technology plays a recurring role in the film, with the screen getting filled up with Whatsapp chats, messages, screen templates from a variety of apps and some very in your face brand placement from online partners. It’s tackily done.
The actors save certain scenes that could have come off as incredibly corny
Joshi merely scrapes the surface of a topic that’s a grey area. The idea of a communication gap between a husband and wife despite staying in the same house is an eventuality every working couple has to come to terms with at some point. Ananya and Aakash show neither empathy for each others’ work lives nor a will to sacrifice success at work to mend a broken relationship. Joshi deals with this using mediocre situational comedy and dialogues that would suit people 10 years younger than his actors.
There’s a scene where Aakash is watching a television show where his wife’s playing an obedient, conforming homemaker. It’s one of the highlights of the film. She’s playing someone she can never be in real life. As she serves tea to her on-screen husband (she’s a terrible cook in real life) we understand that the two have to come to terms with their own limitations as people to make the relationship work.
Post- interval, there’s a monotony in the storytelling. It measures up to 150 minutes (long for a Marathi film), the last half an hour of which is dragged out. Joshi’s point, that technology has become a barrier as opposed to a means of getting people closer in a relationship could have been a fantastic base for a hilarious, sensitive film. But he falters in his execution. He grasps at straws, but doesn’t really find a strong voice in his own storytelling.