Updated: Jun 17
Geeky Pavan takes his 'English Rose' on a date to the most authentic Indian restaurant in the city. To his horror she goes off-menu, in Hindi...
When picturing narratives built on themes like fragile cultural identity and interracial romance, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were about to encounter a story of heavy drama and pointed political statements. The curveball that Two Dosas throws in the face of such an assumption is nothing short of pure cinematic delight. Merging dreamlike storytelling with the finest traditions of the nervous underdog and the bombshell dream girl romcom, director and co-writer Sarmad Masud creates an absorbing and stylish short film experience.
The awkward yet endearing Pavan (Yesterday’s Himesh Patel) swings for the fences when he asks out his co-worker Chloe (Eleanor Wyld), armed with a plan to blow her mind with an authentic Indian experience. His well-conceived plan to deflect from his nerdy disposition by drawing on the deep richness and mystery of his cultural heritage goes completely awry when he realises his English rose is far more knowledgeable about his culture than he is.
In addition to simply being an adorable klutz, Pavan is a fascinating window into the experience of the second-generation Brit. His background is steeped in the settings and staples of his culture and community, but this exists in tandem with being born and raised in England and additionally by parents who seemingly wanted him to embrace all that British life has to offer. This is outlined in the brilliant but telling line, “My dad thought that’s how you integrate. We gave the empire verandas and pyjamas and they gave us cutlery.”
This creates an interesting dichotomy in that Pavan tries to use the Indian heritage that he has from the perspective of being the English man that he is. This internal clashing of cultural identity lays the groundwork for an intriguing character journey but also sets up some classic British humour.
Framing the story in the context of Pavan recanting the events of the date to his work pals Ben (Martin Delaney) and Kevin (Dean Palinczuk aka rapper Scorzayzee), Masud employs fantastic surrealist methods, dropping Ben and Kevin into the middle of the story’s events and having them interact with Pavan’s voiceover inside the scene, doing away with the need for flashbacks in one deft masterstroke. Not only does this enhance the economy of the narrative, but it makes for great comedy, as Pavan is given advice on his date effectively both at the time and after the fact.
Masud and co-writer Nikesh Shukla write a tight adaptation of Shukla’s short story, ensuring a solid structure whilst avoiding telegraphed story beats. Moreover, while they borrow from many traditional romantic tropes (the unobtainable girl, the awkward first date, overcoming the spectre of the perfect ex-boyfriend) Masud and Shukla ensure that their story does not become beholden to those tropes, sacrificing expected story beats in order to complete a fulfilling character arc.
All due credit must also be given to Eleanor Wyld as Chloe, who side-steps the trap of simply becoming the object of desire. Wyld plays Chloe as a free spirit, a pursuer of passion and someone who embraces the unexpected. Far from being a prize to be won, her character is a living challenge to Pavan to embrace his more adventurous side, her energy propelling the film from awkward proto romance to full-bodied romantic adventure.
The performances and storytelling style are elevated by the visual flair applied to almost every shot. Colours are splashed across the scenery using crucial mise-en-scene. From off-screen televisions, hidden under counters to the wonderfully crafted lighting that brings out the complimenting and contrasting colours of Pavan and Chloe, while simultaneously separating them from the background. The striking visuals from DoP Richard Dunton are stitched together via some high-energy transitions and excellent pacing from editor Ricky Milling.
The collective mastery of craft, in front of and behind the camera ensures that we are fully engaged and on board for a colourful, cultural ride that manages to ask questions about how defined we are by our culture and how much ownership we are willing to take over who we really are.
If you are in the mood for a perfect fusion of east and west, then Two Dosas is certain to deliver a visual and comedic treat that is definitely off-menu.
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Studio: Film London/Constant Film | Year: 2014 | Genre: Romantic Comedy | Duration: 16 Mins | Suitability: Mature