Cast: Riteish Deshmukh, Tamannaah Bhatia
Director: Shashanka Ghosh
Rating: 2 Stars (out of 5)
Pure piffle paraded as profound punditry, Plan A Plan B is a rom-com that skims the surface of matters of the heart as men and women, whether entering into matrimony or opting out of it, negotiate the sharp bends on the way. The film potters around without much of a roadmap. The result is a flimsy affair that leaves far too much to the actors to salvage.
Streaming on Netflix, Plan A Plan B, directed by Shashanka Ghosh (Khoobsurat, Veere Di Wedding) and written by Rajat Aroraa (Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, The Dirty Picture), presents an uninspired take on the cliched opposites-attracted-to-each-other theme and delivers a facile tale that revolves around a matchmaker/marriage counsellor/psychologist who plies her trade out of a shared workspace that also houses the office of an uptight divorce lawyer.
No prizes for guessing, Nirali Vora (Tamannaah Bhatia) and Kaustubh 'Kosty' Chougule (Riteish Deshmukh) have no love lost for each other. The two have been unlucky in their respective relationships and the past rubs off on how they deal with their obsessions and mental blocks.
Plan A Plan B swings between the vacuous to the odious in search of a sweet spot. All it manages to hit is the bottom of the barrel. The film volunteers a lot of information about the two principal characters and yet does not get us invested in their fate.
While the amiable Nirali thrives on bringing people together and saving marriages that are on the brink of collapse, the latter, an attorney who specialises in divorce and child custody cases, derives pleasure from helping couples part ways for good. No point fixing what's broke, he insists.
Nirali has inherited the matchmaking business from her widowed, fun-loving mother Kiran (Poonam Dhillon), who continues to live it up because she believes age is only a number. But the daughter is unable to live down a personal tragedy. Her friend Seema (Kusha Kapila) wants to help her deal with the loss and move on. Nirali struggles to put her past behind her.
The crusty Kosty is worse off. His marriage has imploded. His estranged wife Runjhun (Bidita Bag in a lively cameo) wants a divorce right away. Kosty, very quick to jump the gun when it comes to his clients, is hesitant. Bitter and forlorn, he drinks, dances and hooks up with girls on a dating app.
The lead actors deliver their very best but, saddled with a patchy screenplay that swims in shallow waters, their game effort to liven up the proceedings fails to make a meaningful difference to how the film shapes up.
Plan A Plan B looks pretty and smart at first flush, but none of its witticisms, hopelessly hackneyed as they are, lands. "Matchmaking in the times of Tinder", Kosty mocks Nirali's calling. A slogan on a doormat outside the man's cubicle reads "Marriage is dead". But Kosty is loath to give his own failed marriage a decent and quick legal burial.
In the adjoining glass room, Nirali strives to make bickering couples see logic and give each other a second chance, but she cannot stop herself from reacting angrily to the constant needling that Kosty subjects her to. She calls him "Caustic Chougule" and does not hold back when indignation gets the better of her.
With unlike poles and all that bundled into the film without any room for novelty, it is easy to see the final twist coming from a mile and a half away, which in film footage terms would translate into the entire 100-odd minutes of Plan A Plan B.
As a host of other tertiary characters walk in and out of Nirali and Kosty's offices, the film dwells on the relationship between the two bickering people and moves in a direction that it signals from the very moment that it gets underway. The twists and turns, if any, are superficial at best and add little value to an emaciated storyline.
That is not to say that Plan A Plan B has nothing at all to offer a discerning fan of relationship dramedies. It starts breezily enough as it sets the stage for the Nirali-Kosty fireworks. However, it is all downhill from there on as a predictable thaw sets in (and passions are ignited) thanks to a bond - it rests on his penchant for dance - that the divorce lawyer develops with the matchmaker's mother as the latter prepares to celebrate her 60th birthday.
Plan A Plan B exhaust whatever potential it has in double quick time and gropes in the dark for an elusive Plan C. That is where the film goes haywire.
Riteish Deshmukh does a great job of embodying the grumpy male protagonist. Tamannaah Bhatia serves as the ideal foil as a woman who represents positivity despite her own troubles. Poonam Dhillon, although perky and buoyant, does not exactly walk away with the film.
Kusha Kapila, playing the heroine's friend and confidante, does get a word or two in edgewise, but the character does not evolve beyond being a mere sounding board. Bidita Bag, in an appearance that is made up of two scenes, leaves an impression that belies the abbreviated nature of the role.
Plan A Plan B is far less intelligent than it thinks it is. It certainly isn't brainless, but far too much of the film beats about the bush and peddles notions that have been done to death by better, more impactful movies.
The two-star rating for Plan A Plan B is solely for the two stars who stay on course even as the film goes all over the place.