Friday, January 27, 2023

18 Pages: Movie Review

Way too long and drawn out, missing all the fun.

18 Pages is the romantic drama about a young woman with a lost diary and the man who finds it two years later and is instantly drawn to this unknown woman. It’s an intriguing premise with the potential to be both romantic and interesting. But it ends up playing out in a long-drawn story with illogical characters and completely conflicting tones.   2022

Directed by: Palnati Surya Pratap

Screenplay by: Sukumar, Srikanth Vissa

Starring: Nikhil Siddharth, Anupama Parameswaran

If you watch enough Bollywood movies you’ll get used to the conflicting tones issue and yet this movie seems more unhinged than usual. The score is overly dramatic as if every single scene is a matter of life and death, and this just seems to encourage the lead actor to over-act every scene. When you need the movie to tone it down, it eventually leads to the song and dance routines expected of the Bollywood industry. I have come to appreciate those genre shifts and I want Hollywood movies to start throwing in random musical moments just for the fun of it. Fun, though, is the key missing word. The musical moments include no elaborate dance numbers and the songs are all sad songs missing the whimsy that a story like this needs.

The lead character is a walking mess of contradictions for most of the movie. Siddhu is first introduced as this ambitious tech guy who cares more about his job than his girlfriend, and doesn’t care to create time for her. You get the sense that he’ll just find another girl if this one doesn’t fall to her knees at his feet. And then when he comes home and finds her cheating on him, he is devastated. And I mean devastated – this is the overly dramatic part where he treats this as a matter of life and death.

Siddhu is then characterized as incompetent employee who the boss complains about because he never does anything right. This entire time he’s flanked by a female friend/co-worker who complains about his every move. The big turning point in their professional career comes when they’re supposed to meet a client but are late, Siddhu then picks up a hitchhiker but she complains and continually insults the hitchhiker. The hitchhiker turns out to be the client and they win the job because of Siddhu’s human and compassionate nature. That’s a good message for the movie to deliver, but did all of the characters need to be unlikable up until this point?

Meanwhile, there’s Nandini, the love interest. But that’s all she is. She is a completely bland (very unusual for Bollywood) blank slate who exists primarily when Siddhu reads from the diary and her only actions serve to point out how perfect they are for one another.

I still think there’s a good story in 18 Pages but it’s drawn out way too long with inconsistent characters who just make things more dramatic than they are. It’s a frustrating watch not helped by the standard traits of a Bollywood film.