If there is one word that could describe actor Abhay Deol, it would be ‘authentic’. Each of his movie choices have been known to be unique. Be it the surreal ‘Dev.D’ or the rustic ‘Manorama Six Feet Under ’ – no two roles have been the same. So, when Netflix released Abhay Deol’s co production with FilmKaravan ‘What Are The Odds?’, I knew that it would be nothing like a regular film & that’s exactly what it turned out to be.
Set in Mumbai, What Are the Odds? is an Indian whimsical tale following the life of an eccentric girl Vivek (Yashaswini Dayama) who decides to miss an important exam as a mark of her protest against the system. In Vivek’s pursuit to protest, Ashwin (Karanvir Malhotra), a straight-A kid gets trapped unintentionally and is unable to take his exam. Deciding to go on an adventure for one day, Vivek and Ashwin develop an honest friendship with many unusual experiences.
The film opens with Abhay Deol explaining the difference between ‘usual’ and ‘unusual’, and this film definitely belongs on the unusual end of the spectrum. It is an unconventional storyline with a tinge of realism. It makes me wonder about many such abstract films that I did not understand at first. Be in Mullholand Drive or Amélie. Though there are some scenes that did not make sense such as Vivek holding a beetroot which was urinated on or Vivek & Ashwin (underage kids) being allowed to enter a bar, I cannot discount the movie altogether. Credit has to be given to the first-time director, Megha Ramaswamy, who gets the visual aesthetic on point and makes a bold attempt to make a Wes Anderson’eque film.
I also believe that if this movie were made with an international cast and released anywhere but India, this movie might have received a slightly more positive response. Something needs to be said about India and its readiness to make/accept abstract films. After all, why is it that one of the best actors such as Naseeruddin Shah commands a lower price for his talent than so many one-dimensional celebrated actors? India needs more filmmakers who aren’t afraid of experimental cinema that has a different narrative than what we are used to. A piece of art is supposed to stir your imagination and make you think and to some extent, I repeat, to some extent, ‘What Are The Odds?’ did that for me.
With Netflix’s questionable curation of Indian content, I am glad it picked up ‘What Are The Odds?’. Not everything about this movie made sense to me, but if I had to spend two hours watching Indian content on Netflix, I would rather spend it watching an earnest attempt at cinema rather than a half-hearted attempt by an entitled filmmaker.
Reviewed by Puneet Ruparel