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average rating is 3 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Feb 18, 2024

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Prabhakar Pant
Written by:
Prabhakar Pant
Vishal Om Prakash, Shriya Jha, Harleen Rekhi

Hindi-language short Kaamdev is a short film in the mould of an Indian sitcom – a novelty to most UK-viewers – that handles matters like family strife, poverty and isolation with an affable, yet slightly lightweight humour.


When he struggles with finances and the shame of earning much less than his wife, Dev (Vishal Om Prakash) receives an unexpected phone call. Promising him untold earnings, the woman on the end of the line, Sona (Harlee Rekhi), lures Dev in to what seems like an obvious scam. But the pair end up finding unexpected common ground between them as the truth comes out.


Kaamdev is a surprisingly amusing and heartfelt short film that enjoys experimenting with genre staples to result in an original concept. Accompanied by a live-studio-audience-style laugh-track throughout, though never attempting to convince the viewer that it was shot as such, much of the film exists in a strange space whereby Dev’s story feels almost ominously surreal. This is never fully committed to by the director, yet the absence of the laughter as the film proceeds and becomes all the more sincere makes for a surprisingly powerful impact.


The film is packed with similarly classic sitcom-esque humour. None of the jokes are particularly strong, though perhaps land better in the original Hindi than they do over translation. Dev’s financial circumstances are the basis for much of the back-and-forth in the film’s opening third, as well as when Sona becomes increasingly frustrated at her failure to extract money from her mark. It’s old-school humour, and perhaps much more prescient in its native country than in the UK, but much of it translates well enough.


The plot of the film is straightforward enough and acts mainly as a vehicle for the humour. Where perhaps it falls short is that a major decision by Dev at the film’s end doesn’t feel earned, and doesn’t have any consequences of note once it is made despite significant build-up of Dev’s financial situation. The lack of a physical meeting between Dev and Sona is a factor in this, as is the general failure to land Sona as a sympathetic, or crucially, trustworthy character. Granted, it is a sickly-sweet sitcom where normal human behaviour need not always apply, but given the prominence given to contemporary political and societal issues, it undermines some of the better aspects of commentary the film includes.


Perhaps it is the failure to really commit to challenging its own genre that left Kaamdev feeling like a film of unfulfilled potential to me, but a return to the comforting, ‘all’s-well-that-ends-well’ sitcom wrap-up meant this film felt ultimately average. It’s got a good heart, but lacks real punch or purpose.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film, World Cinema
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