- BOTTOM LINE: A Deep Dive into the World of Startups
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Drama|
What Is the Story About?
Kapil, Yash and Vinay are three close-knit childhood buddies based in Bengaluru, who give up their lucrative corporate jobs to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. A villager’s death during a medical camp (owing to the unavailability of medicines) prompts the trio to start an Uber-like app for all medicinal needs within the rural areas of Karnataka. Upstarts traces the journey of the company, the changing equations between friends over the years and how the entry of an investor Veer complicates matters. From investor conferences to startup pitches to the feasibility of a business idea, the film provides interesting insights into the startup space.
The film is a director’s baby and depends more on the spontaneity of its performers. The acting is more lifelike, with the characters switching between anger, humour and hunger almost effortlessly. Fresh faces like Shadab Kamal, Priyanshu Painyuli and Chandrachoor Rai fit into the proceedings like glue. Priyanshu gets a well-written role of an entrepreneur who goes through the emotions while remaining mute under the grip of an investor. He underplays the part and gives justifiability to his character’s transformation.
Chandrachoor Rai is efficient in making you feel his internal pain, telling you what it feels to be let down by a friend, deal with one’s professional inadequacy and come to terms with the feeble health of a parent. Rajeev Siddhartha appears quite suave to play the role of a stinking-rich investor and among other characters, the girl playing a social entrepreneur and Kapil’s friend, is appealing.
In times where thrillers and action drama sell well in the digital space, Upstarts prefers to take the unexplored route and almost succeeds at it. The film is a welcome breath of fresh air, digging deep into the intricacies, challenges within the startup ecosystem, narrated through the eyes of three best friends. Though Upstarts starts on a superficial note, making the establishment of a startup feel all easy and hunky-dory, the story gathers steam soon. The narrative elaborates on experiences that every Indian startup would have possibly gone through – facing rejection, reworking business ideas, earning the interest of an investor, handling differences with co-founders among many.
The film is engaging because it doesn’t try to feed you any business terminology or jargon that could go above your head. The emotional thread between three best friends remains the focus and gives the story identifiability and depth. The detailing of complex corporate policies, investment firms, business presentations and diminishing social purpose in startups keep you hooked in the second hour. The film’s major conflict is between business growth and morals, which more or less don’t find a meeting ground.
An issue with the film’s treatment is its perception of an investor as a supposed antagonist who compromises on the morals of a company. This could have been the director’s attempt to create a grey character to lend the film a cinematic flourish. Though it starts as a story of three friends, Upstarts becomes a story of Kapil’s life over the other friends. There’s no insight into how the family of the three friends react to their success and failure. The film could have been more powerful had it seriously explored the issues that women entrepreneurs face than the forcibly woven subplot of a woman coming up with an app that helps one deal with depression.
Among the better aspects, Upstarts throws light on isolation, anxiety and depression faced by entrepreneurs owing to several factors. It tells you why you need to be mentally sorted and emotionally secure while chasing entrepreneurial goals. It doesn’t project startups as any fantasy world and shows the vulnerability of the industry. The ending offers you the larger picture – the need to appreciate the little moments in life, the little-nothing conversations between friends under the skies while holding a bottle of beer. The film directed by Udai Singh Pawar, despite its crests and troughs, feels like a journey and that might be its biggest achievement.
Music and Other Departments?
Pranaay, the composer does a fine job in bringing liveliness to the atmosphere by interspersing Bengaluru’s indie music flavour into the film, both through a song and the background score. Arvind Kannabiran, the cinematographer is successful in lending a classy visual texture. The writing sometimes tries to pack too many details into one story and misses the personalisation of the characters.
A novel plot in an Indian setting
Impressive detailing within the startup space
Predictable at times
Will You Recommend It?
Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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