The opening frame has Sanjay Chaturvedi (Vicky Kaushal) standing on top of his modest railway quarter terrace, as a portrait of a fairly ambitious millennial, visualising his superpowers through a middle-class lens. This frame to start with is a beautiful balance of dreams and absurd pursuits of reality that are to follow.
The story begins with a promise to embrace reality. Sanjay is a Software Engineer in a bank, Karina D’Souza (Angira Dhar) works in the loan department of the same bank. Both belong to middle-class backgrounds, fighting the day-to-day drudgery of space restrictions in Mumbai.
They both come from culturally opposite households. One from a ramshackle Christian house, in which plaster keeps falling precisely on top of someone’s head, while rest of the place is kept looking like a nice pastel backdrop. The other from a box like a conglomerate of kitchen, hall and bedroom where new guests take over an inmate’s bed every other day. The narrative is filled with plenty of believable characters, peppered with honest quirks keeping the first half’s charm top notch.
In the second half, the Director chooses to hold up the Bollywood wand turn every aspiration into reality in the blink of an eye. This removing of struggle from a Mumbaikar’s life is where the story starts to lose its spell. The realization of dreams moves very fast without the pace in the narrative as such. The shift of focus from ‘square foot’ to ‘love’ is also sudden and misses to maintain the momentum of the first half. There is no gradual love, but there are instances of rickshaw and local train romance that attempt to compensate for the lack of reality. Owing to the talented actors, the chemistry comes naturally despite lack of any build up. Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar make for a delightful pair, keeping us interested in their lives, despite the forced Mumbai-ness.
What works brilliantly though, is the stellar cast. Pathak sisters together are a riot to watch. Ratna Pathak as Mrs. Blossom is so effortlessly accurate with her Bandra-Christian lingo. ‘Kanpuriya’ Supriya Pathak and Raghubir Yadav light up the screen with their innocent middle-class act. They are all stubborn yet forward-looking and accommodating like most Mumbai parents. These three together and little moments of joy are half the reason for Love per Square foot’s magic!
Undoubtedly it is some refreshing writing and overall a likeable watch. Only if it’s heart would have stayed in the non-Bollywood Mumbai, the emotions could have soared higher.