Friday Night Plan is the kind of high-school drama that seems like it could go very wrong or perhaps that’s the skepticism that recent shows of the same kind have instilled in me. This is, of course, not an indictment of shows that aim to explore grittier themes but there is something uniquely enjoyable about a soft, coming-of-age story where the biggest problem is that a cop got hit by an errant egg.
In this film, nothing is as serious as it could be. Siblings squabble and argue but they’re not out to actively get each other. Even the jocks are brash and indifferent but they aren’t absolutely reprehensible people.
Sid Menon (Babil Khan) is shoved into the limelight by a goal he makes by mistake in a high-stakes (for them) football match in his final year. This is the perfect setting for his younger brother Aditya Menon or Adi (Amrith Jayan) to fulfill his biggest goal – to be one of the ‘cool’ kids.
He stares at the football team (and the school’s resident head jock) with an almost fan-like reverence and yet, as the film unravels, we see a kid who has always idolised his older brother the most. Unlike the jock, he looks at his brother with a tinge of nostalgia, for a childhood he imagined with his brother that he can’t act out.
Adi wishes Sid was less ‘responsible’ and uptight and the latter wishes the former wasn’t so cavalier. Their father’s passing has meant that Sid has had to grow up earlier than he needed to – perhaps because he had a front-row seat to the way his mother put their lives back together.
The way their relationship with their mother has impacted their lives is heartwarming to watch – it’s not fear that guides their decisions, it’s respect and genuine affection.
All of this comes to a head when the brothers decide to attend a ‘Friday Night Plan’ when their mother is out for a business trip. As the old adage goes, ‘When the cat’s way, the mice will play’. And play they do. To impress his (and everyone’s) crush Natasha (Medha Rana), he sneaks out his mother’s car and shenanigans ensue.
Friday Night Plan has an interesting insight into how teenagers from such an affluent setting would behave. While there are way too many ‘bro’s thrown around, these teenagers almost speak the way actual teenagers do instead of how most Indian content portrays them. Sure, 2023 Gen-Z slang hasn’t caught up to them but the dialogues are still giving teen ( ;) ).
This is a Y/A tale, complete with characters that are one-tone caricatures but this isn’t a bad thing here. The only issue is that you’re hyper-aware of the fact that you’re watching a story unfold on a screen. There is little to be invested in and little payout. This is coming-of-age at its most sanitised. It’s more You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah than it is Do Revenge. It is not a Lady Bird. It’s just a Friday Night Plan.
Babil Khan carries himself with an almost morose, old poet aura around him which is punctuated with the innocent gait and smile of a young child standing at the precipice of adulthood. This back-and-forth seems seamless in Babil’s able hands and it endears you to Sid.
Adi is no less endearing. He speaks and lives pop culture (at one point comparing his brother to Vin Diesel) and his eagerness to impress his older brother above all is delightfully affecting. Jayan imbibes a callous charm to this character which really helps you buy into the Adi-Sid sibling context.
Juhi Chawla as the boys’ mother brings an infectious kindness to the screen. She is raising her sons in an environment that doesn’t force them to ignore their wants – she only provides a guiding hand and a sensible voice. Her gentle parenting is reflected in how sensitive and well-rounded her sons are growing up to be.
The way the background score (courtesy Rahul Pais and Nariman Khambata) shifts from mindless revelry when the story is focusing on the kids to something edgier when the cops get involved is a nice touch. It doesn’t lead anywhere so it becomes a little overdone towards the end but as a whole, the score gets the job done.
The camerawork by Krish Makhija is reminiscent of shows like Dil Dosti Dance and Sadda Haq that I would secretly watch with my cousins on a sweltering Friday evening because we were asked not to. The 2000s nostalgia and the ache to be back in college hit me almost instantly.
Friday Night Plan is pretty much a one-time-watch but it’s a film that leaves you with a smile on your face.