Sometimes, big surprises come in small packages. But no, Amit Sahni Ki List in not one of those. It is a small surprise in a small package, while it could have been this year’s go-to romantic comedy. What saves it from this honor is a lack of courage in its makers to go the full hog. Yet, this little film is constantly endearing and wisecrack, which makes it thoroughly watchable and enjoyable. To add to that, its the phenomenally talented Vir Das doing a leading role for the first time. Once I had seen the film, I texted another friend that I just got done with it and she replied back saying what film is that. Yes, that is the kind of word which is out in the market for this film, sadly.
Written by Shiv Singh and Rohit Banawlikar, Amit Sahni Ki List is a guy-flick (like chick-flicks), directed by first timer Ajay Bhuyan and produced by Pyxis Pictures, a company ironically formed by three female producers. Amit Sahni is a successful investment banker who has everything in his life while he is in his late 20s, except for true love. After failing a couple of times earlier in his life, Amit makes a checklist that will help him find the perfect girl for himself. Instead, he expectedly falls in love with a girl, Mala (Vega Tamotia), who is the exact anti-thesis of his list. Later, when he discovers Devika (Anindita Nayar) who is inimitably the girl from his list, he must choose the right partner for himself.
ASKL is undoubtedly a simplistic love triangle, grated with a warped but interesting twist. The list and its implications, considering that Devika obsesses more about her list than even Amit does. Add to this a typical quick-witted guy friend, and unusually funny parents. ASKLS boasts of a lot of above average writing and direction which keeps the fun quotient high, never losing sight of the breezy film that they set out to make, which must not succumb to melodramatic emotional wrangling. Director Bhuyan ensures that the emotional bits are underplayed, and yet have a strong connect. He uses a lot of audience interaction, freeze frames, thought bubbles and other devices to add significant freshness to the proceedings on screen. But eventually the slim plot casts its shadow on the film, making for a struggling second half and an audience friendly end. At the end of it all, ASKL does not shortchange its audience as it remains quirky all through, but fails to escape the beaten path in its story, largely due to no show of audacity from its makers.
Produced under a fairly new banner of Pyxis Pictures, Amit Sahni Ki List has one of the best Production Design you will see in recent films. Saini S. Johray does some sprawling wonders as she fills up each frame with a box of simple yet pretty stuff. To complement her work, Maneesh Chandra Bhatt’s cinematography lights up those frames with much ingenuity. I instantly fell in love with the look of the film, and its characters, and at no instant do they end up looking garish. Kudos to a brilliant Costume Design as well. Music of ASKL is a sore patch with no really memorable number, despite stalwarts like Raghu Dixit, Palash Muchhal and others working on it. Editing by Shakti Hasija is crisp and nifty at 110 minutes.
ASKL belongs entirely to Vir Das, who does a leading role for the first time in his life. Relentlessly, he does bring a lot of himself to Amit, but also renders it with a genteel touch, never losing sight of the quirk. He gets fair opportunities to exhibit his dramatic and romantic abilities and does fairly well. Natasha Rastogi, as Amit’s mom, steals the show, as she amusingly plays a modern mother, who gossips on her swing and mouths ‘lingo’. Anindita Nayar is smoking hot, but will be a long time before she can act. Vega Tamotia is instantly likable and makes it very easy to be besotted by Mala. Kavi Shastri, as Amit’s friend, does not get much scope to actually provide the guffaws in the film.
On the whole, Amit Sahni Ki List is a film with a huge heart and yet another manifestation of the abstraction of love. It may not be daring, it may have issues with its waferthin plot, but it does not serve a dull moment. However, it will be hard for it to pick up at the Box Office during the week, in light of the scant weekend collections and minimal word of mouth. Watch it for an affable lead performance and some innovative direction bits!
Rating – 2.5/5