by Deepanjana Pal Mar 2, 2014 12:03 IST
As a film production house goes , Balaji Telefilms is schizophrenic by nature. On one hand, it produces films like Love Sex Aur Dhokha and Lootera.
On the other, it has the Kya Kool Hai Hum series on its roster. So where does Saket Chaudhary's Shaadi Ke Side Effects fit? With Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan as the lead pair, one would expect a clever, mature comedy about marriage.
If you've seen Chaudhary's first film, Pyaar Ke Side Effects, and the trailer to Shaadi..., which shows a cool husband and his nagging wife, then the expectations would be different. It turns out that Shaadi... falls smack in the middle. It has some genuinely quirky moments, but it's also half-baked, juvenile and completely lacking in insight.
Sid(dharth) Roy (Akhtar) and Trisha Mallik (Balan) are a happily-married couple whose life is struck by the baby boomerang. Once Trisha becomes a mother, she puts her marriage on the back burner. This leaves Sid feeling frustrated, neglected and insecure. Sid's brother in-law (Ram Kapoor) advises him to tell white lies and carve some time and space for himself. So the poor baby, sorry... husband, starts living a double life — half the time, he's a family man and the rest of the time, he pretends to be single dude.
Then, after some unnecessary melodrama involving accidents, confessions and a strategically timed sunrise, Sid and Trisha must decide whether they can actually do this thing called marriage or if they'll be victims of its "side effects".
Chaudhary's script is juvenile and heavily biased in favour of Sid. Not only is the entire film literally narrated by Sid, thus providing only his perspective, the events in the film allow Trisha few instances in which she can redeem herself. Sid is entirely insensitive to the challenges Trisha faces — from being a "hormonal nutcase" because of her pregnancy, to putting on weight and feeling unattractive, and raising a child almost single-handedly.
But the way Chaudhary has written Trisha's character, she's insufferable for most of the film so no matter how much you may want to, you just can't side with her. As far as Chaudhary is concerned, Sid is the victim. Even when Sid admits he's in the wrong, it's an exercise in reverse psychology. How can you not love a man who will admit he's in the wrong? So what if he's not actually taking responsibility for his actions because hey, his wife drove him to make the mistakes he did?
The fact is, if Sid wasn't being played by Akhtar, we probably wouldn't care for him. Not only is Akhtar cute as a button, he's got excellent comic timing and even when the script teeters into melodrama, his performance doesn't. He only looks uncomfortable in a few of the sequences where he's made to do filmi choreography. Otherwise, Akhtar makes Shaadi... watchable and it's his acting rather than the writing that draws the laughs.
Aside from Akhtar, there's little to praise in Shaadi... . Balan is strapped in a role and wardrobe that do her no favours. The supporting cast includes Ram Kapoor, Rati Agnihotri, Ila Arun, Vir Das and Purab Kohli and they're competent but unremarkable. It's difficult to tell whether Ila Arun as "Aunty" was supposed to be the ideal nanny or the nanny from hell. The only person saddled with a more uni-dimensional character than Trisha's is Das, who plays a tattooed wannabe actor who can't say a sentence without the word "bro" in it. (That's presumably to clue us into the fact that he is a hipster.)
The comedy evaporates from Shaadi... post-interval. In fact, the blooper reel that accompanies the end credits is more enjoyable than most of the attempted comedy in the second half. Chaudhary tries to hold the audience's attention by introducing ridiculous twists.
However, this doesn't change the fact that the film barely has a story. This isn't surprising. Marriages are rarely eventful. To make them interesting and engaging, a story must reveal the nuances and emotional layer cake that is a 'normal' marriage.
Presumably, Chaudhary thought he was being cheeky when he included not-so-subtle nods to his lead pair's real life in Shaadi... . So Balan's character is married to one Siddharth Roy while Balan is actually married to UTV's Siddharth Roy Kapoor. The film begins with Sid and Trisha meeting in a night club, which is perhaps a nod to how Akhtar met his wife, hairstylist and entrepreneur Adhuna. Trisha struggles with being voluptuous, which, as we've learnt thanks to Koffee With Karan, is a battle that Balan has fought with herself. In Shaadi..., Sid is initially an aspiring singer who is largely dependent upon Trisha who has a well-paying job that she loves. That's reminiscent of how at the start of the Akhtars' relationship, Adhuna was the successful one while Farhan was unemployed and non-descript.
However, these are just flickering references that don't actually add much to the film. Chaudhary's script doesn't have any of the maturity that real life demands of a married couple. Despite having two good actors who are happily married in real life, what Shaadi... gives us is a portrait of a resoundingly unhappy marriage between two people who have just one flash of passionate chemistry right at the start of the film. After that, it's just unhappily ever after.
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