MUMBAI—Don’t say you were not warned.

‘What Are The Odds?’ is written by someone who also penned “Shaitan.” This lady (Megha Ramaswamy) also directs this film. It stars Abhay Deol, the deviant Deol who has made his own “niche” because he cannot possibly do what his more talented family of Deols can. The problem is that he is going from niche to more niche to ultra-niche and (in Hindi) from “nichey” (down) to more nichey and ultra-nichey!

Of course, there is Manurishi Chadha, a fine actor and a decent writer, who is here as a middle-aged man who loves an old lady (Sulbha Arya) who seems to be suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Chadha too prefers such pseudo fare—usually.

Most such films have an element of crime. Mercifully, this one does not, though it joins the league of deviant, oh-so-pointless movies that are alarmingly increasing in proportion nowadays—take almost all of Abhay Deol’s filmography from 2012 and add “Judgementall Hai Kya,” “Bhavesh Joshi Superhero,” “Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota” and more.

There is obviously the same zilch content and so much “cinematic” form, and while pretending to be cinematic form inspired by, modeled from and emulating certain European and American filmmakers, it is essentially severely distorted form.

The writers, filmmakers and crew are clearly intoxicated with self-indulgence, an extreme form of delusion of making great and different cinema, and above all, are prone to wasting others’ precious funds and resources despite the creative penury for a film aimed at audiences—this time, across the world! But then, with Netflix coming in, Indian and other distributors have indeed saved themselves and their moolah. Which Netflix, going by their recent film fare, seems to have a grotesque surplus of for such stuff!

As a critic, I could not heed any warnings and had to go the whole hog. The commentary was very pseudo, the breaking of the film into chapters the second statutory warning that watching such a film might be injurious to (mental) health and wealth (as in value of time wasted!). But I had to venture on, optimistic that this is that one film in a hundred such movies that might turn out right (Luckily I have not seen a 100 such films so I have not yet reached that one!)

With two schoolkids, Vivek (a girl’s name here, played by Yashaswini Dayama) and Ashwin (Karanvir Malhotra) of diametrically opposite temperaments and academic intelligence coming together due to an intentional “prank’ played by Vivek, we go from one absurdity to another, rapidly. This film is as much in English and Hindi, and in the best pseudo way, makes fun of Indians speaking English.  Aiming for festivals, Megha ma’am and Abhay sir?

Two schoolchildren go to a pub and create a (supposedly) comic scene, steal a bottle, drink on a rooftop and see a man who is peeing from the terrace as he does not like the close confines of a bathroom. Below that area, small plants have grown from the urea…get it?

Then we have a goldfish who speaks in the voice of Jugal Hansraj (poor guy, is that all the acting he gets to do nowadays?), and a dancer who is into art to crazy lengths. Get the picture? Despite a passing modicum of “normalcy” in the end when Abhay appears in a cameo as a rockstar who is Ashwin’s ideal, I did not.

I generally detest personal remarks when writing reviews, but such intolerable attempts at cinema that insults the paying Indian audience wanting value-for-money (mainstream, midstream, noir, auteur, dark, deviant—the works!) compel me to do so.

For one, this is so bad that it does not even inspire a spoof review. For another, Abhay needs to salvage whatever is left of his career. A counselor, maybe, can sort out the psychological kink that attracts him to such associates and lets him wastefully squander other people’s resources and energies besides his own. After all, the lead actors did a nice job despite the general lunacy, as did Ananya Melkote as Vivek’s friend, Arya and even Chadha, who regularly chooses such deviant fare.

Rating: *

Produced by: Sanjay Bachani, Apoorva Bakshi, Pooja Kohli & Abhay Deol

Written and directed by: Megha Ramaswamy

Music: Sagar Desai

Starring: Abhay Deol, Karanvir Malhotra, Yashaswini Dayama, Sulbha Arya, Manirishi Chadha, Priyanka Bose, Monica Dogra, Ananya Melkote & others

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