Do you know who’s really good at being Quentin Tarantino? I’ll give you a hint: friggin’ Tarantino. Yet, as is the case with many wayward filmmakers out to make their mark on cinema, his unmistakable style weasels its way into far too many features these days. When it comes to How is That for a Monday? though we find a film that goes beyond simple emulation into a realm of surprising endearment, proving once and for all that imitation truly is the most sincere form of flattery. Intentionally or otherwise, director/co-writer Sripal Sama and co-writer Sai Praneeth Gouravaraju crafts a crime-dramedy turned social commentary that ends up being pretty darn passable.
On a seemingly regular Monday, Shyam Kumar (Kaushik Ghantasala) finds himself in a bad way. Scrambling to make ends meet, he pawns a few personal items to pay rent. Next thing he knows, Shyam becomes embroiled with some bumbling thieves, a billionaire, an old gentleman, and a tech guy. How and why is he at the hub of the spoke of these lowlife criminals and their targets?
How is That for a Monday? details Shyam’s journey into amateur crime, low-grade detective work, and, oddly enough, Olympic history. Honestly, I thought I had this film dead to rights, and who would say otherwise? Shyam’s story wasn’t exactly on its way to wheel reinvention. After getting laid off, the guy needs a few extra bucks and doesn’t want to pay his credit card bill. We’ve all been there, right? Just me?
The script is filled with the kind of snappy conversations that have characters equipped with ready-made comebacks they have no business sharing in the first place. Unfortunately, this means the folks on-screen exist more as caricatures than people. Still, it’s evident that the actors involved are doing the best they can with what they’ve got and having some level of fun in the process.
“…Shyam becomes embroiled with some bumbling thieves…”
Narratively, How Is That For A Monday? is, to put it nicely, disjointed. One minute, Shyam’s working with a local detective to catch an eccentric band of thieves; the next, he’s helping a former Olympian buy hamburgers. By the time he was selling a gold medal for half a million dollars, I began to wonder when the aliens were going to show up.
With its too-witty-to-be-real dialogue and a plot that has enough tonal shifts to make even the auteur-rest of auteurs weep, the film certainly aspires for greatness. Unfortunately, it’s never quite bold enough to achieve its full potential. Instead, what we’re left with is a film caught in the midst of an identity crisis, weaving contrivances together like a hobby-less divorcee.
The film’s saving grace then exists not in execution but in aim. Because for better or for worse, it’s clear that the folks involved in the production had a ton of fun. It certainly struggles in making its point, but that endears us to the film in a way few others can. This movie is trying, and although that’s not asking much, it deserves some credit.
How is That for a Monday? is a mixed bag. It attempts to dissect racism and class differences, only to end up merely alluding to both. As uttered in the film’s finale, “It’s the intentions that matter.” Thankfully, this film’s intentions were clear, even if everything else was a bit murky.
"…the folks involved in the production had a ton of fun."