Director: Vatsal Neelakantan
Cast: Babil Khan, Amrith Jayan, Medha Rana, Aadhya Anand, Ninad Kamat, Juhi Chawla Mehta
Where: Streaming now on Netflix
Rating: 2.5 stars
Given that today's teens are much more susceptible to the trappings of social media and peer pressure, it becomes important that Friday Night Plan, the new Netflix film from the Excel Entertainment vault, offers a lot more nuances and emotional arcs, in an otherwise too clean-to-a-fault teen drama.
Directed by Vatsal Neelakantan, FNP is about two bickering brothers who hold contrasting outlooks towards life and how a random night-out can help them iron out their burning differences.
Sidharth aka Sid (Babil Khan) is your regular front-bencher, good boy, who is academically inclined and evidently the responsible elder brother. In short, boring. Aditya aka Adi (Amrith Jayan) on the other hand wants to live life as per the moment. A chance football match witnesses Sid score the winning goal and suddenly, he is the center of attention. To celebrate his win and ring in the weekend, Adi tags his straight-laced brother to a party while their mother (Juhi Chawla Mehta in a delightful cameo) is away on a work-trip to Pune. A series of mishaps follow and the brothers must put their differences aside to survive the night and keep trouble at bay.
Coasting smoothly for over 1 hour and 45 minutes, FNP at best can be summed up as a popcorn watch. While it's not silly and immature in its treatment, the film fails to challenge its own characters and the eventual demographic that it is targeting. We've seen better films and series where there are a lot more nuances and conflicts involved from Netflix alone. I'm not expecting a Kapoor and Sons thrown into the mix because that caters to a different age group, but FNP never enhances intelligence or emotional maturity in its narrative. Which fairly, isn't too high an expectation. Unfortunately, the emerging generation is looked down upon and dismissed mostly as frivolous and stupid. It then becomes important to highlight the collective understanding and integrity that is vaguely present. Sadly, the film fails to delve further there.
Nevertheless, if at all you choose to watch the film, it’s strictly for the performances of both Babil and Amrith. Following a striking debut with Netflix in Qala, Babil works his boyish charm to come across convincingly as an 18-year-old, whose awkwardness is his biggest hindrance. He effortlessly switches between confused and as someone who is in charge of the situation, without letting us disconnect from Sid. Amrith is equally compelling as Adi. As the voice of reason who urges his brother to loosen up and enjoy life a little, Adi’s actions and quirks seem childish, yet they are affable and makes one easily wanting to be forgiving. Medha Rana and Aadhya Anand as Natasha and Nitya respectively offer dignified acts. They aren’t painted as your pretty, cute, popular girls in school longing for attention, but they are young women with emotional depth. Ninad Kamat as SI Pingale is a hoot in his limited screen-time. It’s also funny that the makers don’t feel a need to give Juhi’s character a name. She is just credited as Ma.
Friday Night Plan works if you strictly have nothing else to watch. Personally, my only joyous takeaway from the film was to watch indie favourites Dhruv Visvanath, Skrat and When Chai Met Toast being credited for the music. That certainly calls for repeated listening.