Film: UP65 (3 episodes)
Director: Gaganjeet Singh
Cast: Shine Pandey, Priitamm Jaiswal, Jay Thakkar, Sharat Sonu, Abbas Ali Ghaznavi, Anmol Jyotir, Pragati Mishra, Abhishek Reddy and Ria Nalavade
Set in contemporary times, ‘UP65’ is a story on students of IIT-Benaras. With fresh faces for a cast, it takes time for the characters to grow on you and three episodes should definitely not be enough to decide the fate of the series. It’s a light-hearted comedy with a nostalgic flavour, but with majority of the cast being male and the director’s camera revolving around the boys’ hostel and corridors of engineering departments, it doesn’t exactly qualify for a family binge.
Priitamm Jaiswal, aka Amit Kumar Pande, gives quite an introduction of Benaras to the lead actor, Nishant (Shine Pandey): ‘a city where even gaalis are prasad and aashirwad’. It reminds one of ‘3 Idiots’; Nishant’s character is that of modern-day Raju Rastogi, even carrying the book ‘Four Point Someone’ (and not ‘Five Point Someone’) for introduction to the IIT culture.
Shine, however, fails to shine. For some reason, one connects to everybody else but the hero. For the actors and characters that stand out, be it Jaiswal, Jay Thakkar or Sharat Sonu, one wishes to know more of their story.
When Sonu aka Kabaadi Baba motivates and helps the lost first-year kids to learn from his experience, it makes him the real hero of the series. Not much has been assigned to the female actors, Pragati Mishra and Ria Nalavade, showcasing them in stereotypical roles.
The series is an adaptation of a bestseller, ‘UP65’, by Nikhil Sachan. Having the author on board should have enriched the screenplay, but to the contrary, it falls flat at many places. After a spate of progressive stories for a college drama, this one does feel like a regressive take. Even the theme music lacks punch.
Director Gaganjeet Singh, an engineer himself, has had success as the writer of ‘PariWar’. It’s his second directorial venture after ‘Tathaastu’. At the end of every episode, though, the viewer is left gasping for a cliffhanger or suspense to click on the next episode icon. Up for it, still?