There is a scene in Vatsal Neelakantan's Friday Night Plan where Sid (Babil Khan) and his brother, Adi (Amrith Jayan), practice playing different games, like flipping the glass and throwing a ball in a cup, to prepare themselves for the Friday night party. This is the movie's way of suggesting that you are about to enter the Teenage Movie territory. Brace yourself for drinks, loud music, kissing, and dancing. You know, like one of those crazy house parties you often see in American films. After this indication, Friday Night Plan tries to run in a different direction. The subversion, at first, is minor. When Sid and Adi go inside a hotel, they notice other boys eating their food "normally." There is no loud music or disco lights. The brothers soon learn that the real party will take place in some other location, and this is just a precursor to the main event. But even after arriving at the main function, the movie doesn't fully embrace the usual tropes. It tries to have minimum fun.
In other words, this Teen Movie comes with a moral, adult angle. If it doesn't become, say, an American Pie, that's because its views are unevenly aligned with that of the kids. Friday Night Plan derives a sense of levity from the young characters but also scolds them, and mocks them for being shallow, chill, and indifferent. The games the students play at the party are initially rendered ridiculous, but a suspenseful moment is later created from one of these stupid drinking activities. There is a reason behind these mixed signals. That reason is Sid. He is a "mature" boy who (initially) doesn't understand what's the big deal behind Friday night parties. For the most part, he isn't interested in such social gatherings, which is why the movie, too, looks down on the other characters and their behaviors. This explanation, however, doesn't cover up the fact that the film mostly feels confused and hesitant. I really wish it had picked up a single lane and stuck to it for the entire runtime.
The easy-breezy moments prove to be better than the ones that seem to stand on moral, judgmental grounds. The film is so good when it gives us SOLO/FOMO poems or other such light-hearted bits. But it becomes a party pooper when it presents the "cool actions" - throwing an egg at a police officer and then bragging about it to gain admiration and acceptance - of the teenagers as something that's uncool and only worthy of harsh criticism. There is another aspect that undermines the Friday Night Plan. The movie stands on shaky grounds and doesn't seem to have a solid perspective on the teenagers because it's mainly about Sid and Adi accepting their flaws and embracing each other. The story of these two brothers could have been better told using a different template. Here, it uneasily brushes against Teenage Movie clichés (there is a smart girl with a book in her hands, and the hottest girl is academically not so great).
What's interesting about Friday Night Plan is how it emphasizes that everyone is a storyteller. People make up lies to appear cool in front of other people, and these lies are always exaggerated. Adi adds spice to his and his brother's antics. A police officer (Ninad Kamat) dramatizes the story behind the egg. I liked how the egg turns into a bullet by the time the details of the incident reach his family members.
Besides struggling to apply for colleges, Sid finds it difficult to ask Nat (Medha Rana) to go with him to the prom. Will she accept his proposal? Will he end up dating her? We don't care. I was more interested in knowing why the coach continues to follow the "Pass the ball to Kabir (Aditya Jain)" strategy when he clearly looks inept. Now, that's a question that needs to be answered urgently.
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