The startup culture in India has been a major talking point for years. And yet, there has been a dearth of content which focuses on it. The first meaningful take on startups was TVF’s web series Pitchers. But Netflix’s Upstarts is a completely different ball game.
While early reactions to the Netflix film inevitably led to comparisons between the two, Pitchers revolved more around the struggle to find investors and procure funding. In contrast, Upstarts concerns itself with the aftermath of funding; successfully running a company.
Based around Kapil (Priyanshu Painyuli), Yash (Chandrachoor Rai) and Vinay (Shadab Kamal), the idea and investment part of startups is progresses very rapidly, perhaps a little too quickly considering the overall pacing of the movie.
What follows is how easy it is to lose your initial aim in the face of success and fame. This is portrayed in detail and forms the crux of the storyline. Painyuli, who gets the most screen time, proves himself equal to the task and comes out as the standout performer.
Rai and Vinay ably support him. For many, the ups and downs of their friendship will be more engaging than the whole startup scenario, which is likely to appeal more to wannabe entrepreneurs and those who have already made it.
For all its positives, there is a fair share of flaws. The story is too safe, you’re bound to feel like you have seen all this before in some shape or form. There are not enough creative risks, which could have easily bolstered a very interesting premise.
As mentioned before, another big flaw is the pacing. Upstarts dwells for so long on the phase of running the startup, every other plot point feels too rushed. Even the characters, apart from the three protagonists, are hardly fleshed out. Their actions are painfully predictable.
In the digital age, where there is no box-office pressure on platforms, why are creators still choosing to take the safe route? The only criteria is content, and Upstarts is held back from being special by many of the cliches you actually associate with Bollywood.
It’s a decent watch, but not a film that’ll inspire you like nothing before. It should resonate with entrepreneurs who can relate to the whole process, but is it really something that will create waves? Perhaps not.
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