Writer-Director: Sandeep Mohan, Actors: Ash Chandler, Shernaz Patel
[L]ove, Wrinkle-free delivers exactly on that front where Ishaqzaade let its viewers down. It’s a love story where one forms an emotional connect with the characters and feels for them as they sail through the rollercoaster ride of their lives. The opening sequence indicates that the film is in deft hands and the promise is kept till the end.
The film derives its beauty from the seamless writing which is punctuated with humour at the right moments. It is a romantic comedy with the right amount of sensitivity towards family, identity and mid life crises.
The strength of the film lies in its characters: they are not the kinds you see in every other film. Their motivations are universal yet their ideas original which makes it a quirky little tale about a dysfunctional family.
Savio Monteiro (Ash Chandler) is a middle-aged sales manager in an underwear company. He is an old school employee who believes in organizational hierarchy and thinks brainstorming over a cup of cappuccino is a waste of time. ‘What’s wrong with the office coffee?’ he asks his younger colleague. He is weighed down by the rigmarole of a thankless job and the fear of young minds seizing greener pastures at work. But this character is eccentric in that in spite of his old school notions, he has an entrepreneurial idea that can change his life forever: he wants to set up a business of edible lingerie!
His older wife Annie (Shernaz Patel), on the other hand, uses anti-wrinkle creams and wants to retain a place in the local choir till she is sixty. If she is young enough to carry a baby, she might as well be allowed to sing in the choir. She miraculously gets pregnant after many years of marriage and an adopted daughter Ruth (Arika Silaichia) who is now a teenager.
The film maintains a light hearted tone throughout but shows adeptness at handling human dilemmas and relationship issues. The scene where Savio and Annie want to break the news to their adopted teenaged-daughter that her younger sibling is on its way is a perfect example. They take her out for dinner. After much ado, Annie and Savio hold hands and ask her what she would like: a boy or a girl. ‘As of now I would like a cold drink’, she dispassionately answers. But when the truth dawns on her, she asks her parents why couldn’t they use a condom revealing the hilarious awkwardness of the moment in their relationship.
Ruth’s internal struggle of identity, Annie’s struggle to defy her age and Savio’s struggle to prove his worth are all so well portrayed that one bonds with these characters. The writer-director has drawn out convincing character arcs for them that keep the viewer thoroughly engaged.
Ash Chandler is one terrific actor to look out for. He breathes life into his character with the nuanced and comical expressions on his face. Shernaz Patel is graceful. All the actors in the film have delivered fine performances.
The pristine beaches of Goa, ample wine, quirky drug lords and bizarre tourists are harped on but here Goa is not just a setting where the story has been planted. The story exists because Goa facilitates it; hence Goa is an integral character in the story. Warm tones have been used throughout the film and there is lot of music and dance to bring out the spirit of Goa.
Love, Wrinkle-free is an assured, refreshing and mature debut. Watch it for the middle-age romance, quirky characters, abundant humour and smooth storytelling.