- BOTTOM LINE
- Of a Done-To-Death Conflict Between Love and Friendship
|Platform: Zee5||Genre: Drama/Romance|
What Is the Story About?
Ever heard of the cheesy line in Bollywood films where a suspicious-looking elderly character points out with all her worldly wisdom, ‘Ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahi ho sakte’ (A man and a woman can never be just ‘friends’)? This ten-episode series refurbishes the time-tested formula in a fashionable, modern-day backdrop, but the result is not as cheesy or entertaining as you expect it to be.
The protagonists Tanie and Sumer are best friends, youngsters in their early 20s, bracing past conflicts with their parents, sorting out their love lives, careers and discovering the vagaries of adulthood together. Their love-hate relationship survives the test of time, but they do little to dig deep into their comfy equation. Will their friendship blossom into a heartfelt romance?
Nakuul Mehta’s over-enthusiasm in trying to get the pitch of his role right plays spoilsport for the viewer. His comic timing falls flat and his performance is dominated by his overplayed histrionics – you never empathise with his part (the writing department partly deserves the blame for it too). Anya Singh feels more at ease than her male counterpart. She’s particularly effective when she addresses the audience directly looking into the camera with a hint of mischief. She has a knack for humour than her emotional sequences and her styling works to her advantage.
Suchitra Krishnamurthy makes a rather disappointing digital debut playing a role that’s very poorly fleshed out. Her plight as a concerned mother who resurrects her marriage purely for the cause of her son could have made for an interesting subplot, but the director doesn’t seem interested to explore it on a deeper level. Vivek Mushran, Rituraj Singh and Niki Aneja get cardboard-like caricaturish characters with nothing to write home about. Mohit Hiranandani’s role is interesting but too limited in scope to make an impact.
Old-fashioned premises have an unignorable nostalgic value, regardless of how relevant/irrelevant they might be for the times. The exploration of the thin line between friendship and love is something that is bound to catch the fascination of filmmakers every generation and it’s genuinely not surprising that the premise has found takers in the digital space as well.
It’s however important that the cheesiness in such stories is set in a slice-of-life space where the backdrop, the conflicts of the characters feel believable and there’s ample humour to liven up the atmosphere. Never Kiss Your Best Friend, is anything but that.
The makers of the series yet again rechurn all the old-age tropes as conflicts that could surface between best friends of different genders – including insecure, cheating partners who suspect their equation, concerned parents desperate to marry them off to silence the wagging tongues in society and an element of self-denial between the best friends who gradually acknowledge the love they have for each other.
The characters in the series are very loosely structured. The tale is very much about two privileged kids who’re handheld by their parents throughout their lives. Although they portray the girl to be an aspiring costume designer and the guy as an assistant director for a plum Bollywood project, the struggle for their identity never feels real. Everything is spoon-fed to them so well in their lives that they find so much leisure to be obsessed about their relationship statuses
The very foundation of their friendship is very weak and fragile. And the transition from friendship to love is equally unfathomable, The threads dealing with the infidelity of a parent, the sexual identity of a principal character and the tension between the partners of the protagonists are very poorly visualised, that they remind you of the horrors of Bollywood in the 90s. There’s no nuance whatsoever and it all feels like a bunch of cliches forcibly tied together in a story that never feels coherent. Though the plush locales distract you from the shallowness of the series, it’s highly unlikely that a viewer would scrape through the ten episodes without a yawn.
With some intelligent writing, this could have just been a welcomingly ‘feel good’ series amid the large spectrum of dark stories emanating in the digital space. It’s very clear that the makers haven’t chosen the right book to be tailored into a series – not all ‘airport reads’ deserve visual adaptations.
Music and Other Departments?
It’s hard to shake off the feeling that the series was aspiring to be a lookalike of a musical produced by Dharma Productions. But the excessive Bollywood hangover in its background score and select individual tracks make the series feel like a ‘cheap wannabe’ than an ‘accomplished original’. Visually, the efforts of the cinematographer and art director in embellishing a plush backdrop truly show and is probably the only relieving prospect for a viewer. The dialogues are very unimaginative and have a recycled vibe to them.
Anya Singh’s screen presence
The visual backdrop of the series
The minimal duration of the episodes
Extremely dull and lifeless writing
Poorly established characters, subplots
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Not at all
Never Kiss Your Best Friend Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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