Upstarts Movie Review: This Netflix Film on Indian Start-Ups Fails to Rise Above Predictability

Upstarts Movie Review: This Netflix Film on Indian Start-Ups Fails to Rise Above Predictability

Upstarts Movie Review: Upstarts is Netflix’s new offering among original films this week. The Hindi film starring Priyanshu Painyuli,  Shadab Kamal and  Chandrachoor Rai in the lead is all about the ‘start-up’. culture that has gripped the Indian youth. The concept is a Silicon Valley meets TVF Pitchers, both of which have been brilliant shows capturing the nerve of entrepreneurship. Upstarts in a similar fashion bring us the story of three friends who put together a venture that they firmly believe in but don’t anticipate the dynamics of the bigger game and how it will affect their relationship.  Upstarts Trailer: Netflix India’s Upcoming Movie Is All About Struggles of Establishing a Startup (Watch Video).

In TVF’s Pitchers, it was more about the struggle to get funded and sell an idea among thousands of innovators, for Upstarts, it’s about what happens later.  Kapil (Priyanshu Painyuli), Yash (Chandrachoor Rai) and Vinay (Shadab Kamal) leave their comfortable jobs after realising that they finally have an idea that would make a successful business someday. Their idea – “Davaiyon ka Uber’ (an Uber for medicines). Kapil (Priyanshu) is so smitten by the start-up culture that all he can turn even regular conversations into business ideas. His ambitions shine bright in his eyes but it’s not the same for his friends, Yash who’s the tech genius of their company, and Vinay whose break-up has left him in a no ‘moh-maya’ phase. Yash (Chandrachoor) is struggling to deal with his father’s Parkinson’s condition and in the fear that he may end up the same way, is slowly progressing towards alcoholism. The show features only one female character essayed by Sheetal Thakur, who like the three boys is passionate about creating a business around mental health but the sexist attitude of the panel judges is her biggest hurdle to obtain funding. It certainly wouldn’t have hurt for the show to include a few more female characters, in fact I’ll even say that I would have loved to see Veer’s (Rajeev Siddhartha) character, who is Kapil’s start-up, Carry Karo’s first investor in the film to have been a woman. Are there no women VC’s out there? The show includes one ahead in the story but unfortunately not an Indian woman.

The story of Upstarts is quite predictable and hence the film never really grips you. The funny banter between the trio works at the beginning but soon the humour becomes quite dull. Whoever said it would be easy to work with your friends, you may need to catch this film. It does aptly tap into how egos, money and bigger sharks at play affect the relationship of this core team who started their business in their living room, but then that seems like  a standard template one can use in any film genre, pick Rock On, for example, the same story just replace the band with  a business.

In some scenes though, the film does make good points. I particularly was happy to finally see a boss who is supportive of his employee’s ambitions to branch out and start his own business. This doesn’t stop him from giving him some advice but them ending things on a positive note is a good move.  . Bard of Blood Review: Strong Performances Drive Emraan Hashmi’s Predictable but Visually Appealing Netflix Series.

As for the performances, Priyanshu who was quite impressive in Bhavesh Joshi pulls of Kapil’s character convincingly enough. He stands out in most scenes with Kamal and Rai who do a decent job as well. Rajeev Siddhartha as their investor Veer showcases the mannerisms of a thoroughly shrewd, businessman well. I’d say as far as the casting and performances go, the film is fine, if only it had something better to offer in the story department. Eijaz Khan also makes a cameo as a successful start-up owner who eventually goes bankrupt and then takes on a spiritual path which is kind of an unnecessary addition.

Check Out the Trailer of Upstarts Here:

What Upstarts lacks is truly selling its business to us. I remember the first time I watched Silicon Valley and how Robert (Tom Middleditch) and his friends set-up Pied Piper was such an intense process that by the end of the show, Pied Piper became an emotional connect for me. The same does not happen with Carry Karo. Considering this is a film, I understand the makers can’t go into much detailing but naming one’s business is a big deal and since we don’t get to see those little things, the connect is quite low and the process too hurried.

Directed by Udai Singh Pawar, the film captures the boardroom scenes with investors quite well. Also, Yash’s deteriorating mental health and alcoholism is tackled well.  The lighting and the and background score are on point too. The bottle of Old Monk makes an appearance in several scenes and I bet for all those struggling entrepreneurs, the cheap booze connect is going to be strong.

Final Thoughts:

Upstarts has the resources to make for a great film on Indian start-ups but it doesn’t push itself that far. The performances manage to hold your attention but the story seems hurried and never sucks you in enough to root for the characters. In the film, Kapil is told that 9 out of 10 start-ups fail, to which he responds, “Ek to jo chalta hai, wo chalta nai udta hai” unfortunately for the film, it doesn’t fly far enough!