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Movie Review: Plan A Plan B (2022)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Plan A Plan B on Netflix

The lack of effort that went into making Plan A Plan B is readily apparent. Stars Tamannaah Bhatia and Riteish Deshmukh are occasionally able to elevate the poor material they’re given to work with, but much of the movie is forgettable.

Fault for the film lies at the feet of director Shashanka Ghosh (who made much better films like Veere Di Wedding and Khoobsurat) and writer Rajat Arora (who has a more mixed track record). All of the dialogue feels like a first draft, with characters saying the most obvious things and repeating conversational patterns over and over again. Because the movie was made for a streaming service and thus subject to less stringent Indian censorship requirements, the characters make frequent sex references, but in the most juvenile ways.

Bhatia plays Nirali Vora, a matchmaker taking over a successful business from her mother Kiran (Poonam Dhillon). Kiran announces her retirement by saying, “From now on, it’s just me and my pussy” — by which she means her friend Pushpa. See what I mean about juvenile sex references?

Deshmukh plays divorce attorney Kosty Chougule, who is as enthusiastic about marriages ending as Nirali is about marriages beginning. However, Kosty won’t agree to his own wife Runjhan’s (Bidita Bag) divorce request because he hates to lose and is still in love with her.

That doesn’t stop Kosty from finding plenty of hookups on dating apps. He meets the Indian women he connects with on the apps in public places like restaurants, while the white women he finds come to his apartment in revealing outfits. The harmful oversexed-white-woman trope has fallen out of fashion in recent years, so including it is more evidence of the laziness that went into writing Plan A Plan B.

Nirali and Kosty have offices next to each other in a co-working space in Mumbai. Their personalities clash, resulting in loads of noisy bickering. (If I was one of the other workers renting office space, I’d demand a refund.) The things they fight about are dumb and trivial, as are the reasons why most of Kosty’s clients want divorces. It’s all tidy vs. messy, dogs vs. cats — elementary school examples of opposites, basically. One reason Runjhan wants to divorce Kosty is because he won’t let her help in the kitchen when he prepares gourmet meals for her. Like, is that really a problem?

When Kiran enlists Kosty’s help preparing for her sixtieth birthday party, Kosty and Nirali agree to a truce. (The birthday party triggers some cringe-worthy “Look at these inspirational old ladies” observations from Kosty.)  The truce finally allows Deshmukh and Bhatia the chance to show why they are such likeable actors, as their characters finally try to connect with one another.

That said, there isn’t much chemistry between them, although they may not be at fault. The movie’s lone intimate scene plays out like combat rather than romance. The characters yank on each other’s clothes while strategically holding their heads to hide the fact that their lips aren’t actually touching.

There’s far more sensuality in a dance number Kosty and Nirali perform at Kiran’s birthday party. In fact, just watch their performance to the song “Keh Do Ke” and skip the rest:

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