The story of behind Netflix's 'Love Per Square Foot'

Ronnie Screwvala’s first solo production venture Love Per Square Foot, which is also Netflix's first Indian straight-to-streaming flick was originally written by its director Anand Tiwari as a ‘dark love story’. “At that time, I had no clue about writing,” says Tiwari. “As I became a better screenwriter, I thought of approaching the subject again, this time with the help of humour.” He teamed up with his long-time colleague and friend Sumeet Vyas and decided to use comedy to make the story more relatable. “It wasn’t commercially viable so we decided to scrap the whole idea and start afresh. We took the basic idea of two people looking for a house and, in the process, discovering love,” adds Vyas about the rom-com which features Masaan actor Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar.

The film follows two characters who — like millions of millennial Mumbaikars — are looking for space in this over populated city. Their perfect plan is a marriage of convenience. “Space is an issue in a country like ours and to find love in such a space-crunched environment is a drama that I always see around me,” says Tiwari as he explains how his own experiences gave birth to the idea. “I see couples making space for themselves and how they manage to cut off from the rest of the world. It always excites me to imagine their story and hence Love Per Square Foot. The irony of the title shows how love also has to curtail itself in this city.”

Colleagues and critics

The film which was supposed to come out in September last year, will now release online on Valentine’s Day. “We had earlier pushed it to April as Vicky’s [Kaushal] two films were supposed to release during that time,” explains Tiwari. “With more people knowing about him, it would have been good for our film.” Then Netflix approached producer Ronnie Screwvala as the script about urban millennials seemed to be a perfect fit.

Kaushal’s character Sanjay is a combination of Tiwari’s and Vyas’ shared experiences of growing up in middle-class families, with little to no privacy. “We both grew up in Mumbai and we both had this deep-rooted angst about the difficulties one has to go through to find a house in this city,” says Tiwari. The duo is still struggling to own their respective dream houses. “The space crunch that we have jostled in our lives is what reflects in writing the protagonists’ characters.”

He’s known known for Permanent Roommates, Tripling and his recent film Ribbon, and Vyas also tested for the role, but it eventually went to Kaushal. The film’s casting director Honey Trehan felt that Vyas would be too close to the script to play the protagonist. They needed an actor to bring in his own experiences to the part. “An actor’s job when he comes on board, isn’t just to memorise his lines and blurt them out but also to interpret it with his own experiences,” says Tiwari. “We wanted talent who would come, contribute and take the vision forward.”

Vyas and Tiwari aren’t just colleagues but also each other’s critics and their mutual professional respect is far greater than the need to maintain friendly diplomacy. “While working, we are absolutely brutal and have a lot of arguments before we really arrive at something we both agree on,” says Tiwari. On the other hand, Vyas adds, “I only work with a bunch of people I know especially where writing is concerned. So, there is a connection and we don’t have to explain everything to each other. We are mostly on the same page.”

Love Per Square Foot premiers today on Netflix.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2020 1:46:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/a-matchbox-way-of-life/article22744393.ece

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