Movie Review: Mere Dad Ki Maruti will make you smile, but it's no laugh riot
For a change, the Punjabi humour is not overdone in Mere Dad Ki Maruti. But as the tagline goes - Kitna deti hai? Not that much. The film will make you smile, even giggle, but it's not an ROFL comedy.
by Ravina Rawal
The Punjabis are a loud, happy, riotous lot. This works well for Bollywood. Especially when they also find a way to throw a wedding into the mix.
Like Yo Yo Honey Singh’s track in the film’s OST points out, “Punjabiyaan di battery charge rehndi hai.” So of course they’re our go-to guys when we want to make a fun film. Ashima Chibber's Mere Dad Ki Maruti is a fine example of how to obediently adopt what is almost a cliché, clearly a formula—except that it is done with some much-appreciated restraint here. It is also an almost two-hour long advertisement for Maruti, complete with the brand's current tagline, "Kitna deti hai?" This is mildly irritating at first, but if you lived/grew up in India in the ’90s, your first car was probably a ‘Maruti 800’ and you know you can only look back on that with extreme fondness; no other car manufacturer has managed to build this kind of emotional connect with us Indians. (I don’t mean for this review to sound so suspiciously like the print promo for Maruti, motherswear; it just is what it is.)
In MDKM, you are invited to the 'shaddi da ghaar' in Chandigarh. Tej Khullar (Ram Kapoor) is an extremely frustrated father, who seems perpetually on the verge of popping a blood vessel. He’s strung out due to the stress of his daughter’s upcoming wedding, of course, but that pales in comparison to what happens every time he thinks of/sees his son Sameer (Saqib Saleem). When it comes to his son, the irate, rotund and mustachioed Khullar either communicates through gritted teeth and sarcasm, or at the top of his voice, usually referring to Sameer as a 'paththe da ullu'.
There's a new car in the Khullar garage. A shining red Maruti Ertiga, which an excited Sameer hopes is for him, but is sternly told otherwise. It’s a wedding present (hello, dowry) for his sister and her almost-husband. But Sameer has just met college hottie and 'Chandigarh ki Shakira' Jasleen (Rhea Chakraborty)—who insists on being called Jazzlyn—and there's a party she's agreed to go to with him and, well, how is he supposed to impress her if he doesn't have a car? So he sneaks it out from the garage a few nights before his sister's wedding and has a great night out...till the Ertiga goes missing. Cue: PANIC.
Yes, we thought Dude, Where's My Car? too, but don't. Instead of spending all their time looking for the lost/stolen car like they do in DWMC, Sameer and his bhai ka bhai best friend Gattu (Prabal Panjabi, who looks a lot like stand up comedian and actor Vir Das) keep trying to find new ways to replace the car with another one—before anyone notices that the original is missing, and definitely before the wedding.
A lost car, an unsuspecting but also unpredictable father, two well-meaning boys, a flighty Chandigarh 'babe', an unconvincing gangster (Ravi Kishen), an assortment of choice Punjabi swear words and a series of failed best plans...outrageous comedy? Could have been. But MDKM is more of an average Joe. It will make you smile, even giggle, but don’t expect to clutch your stomach in mirth or pee out of turn.
The cast's performances just about make the mark, with Kapoor and Panjabi coming up on top. While for a welcome change things haven't been overdone in this movie, the dialogues aren't consistent through the film, and a lot of the youth speak sounds like a forced fit.
Y-Films, a division of Yash Raj Films, is all about introducing new talent and creating “films that rock the youth”. If you’re wondering where you’ve seen Saqib Saleem (brother of Huma Qureshi) before, it was in Y-Films’ 2011 romantic comedy, Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge (which also starred Panjabi). While the two boys play off each other pretty well, the disarming Saleem still has some way to go for his performance to seem absolutely natural, as does his leading lady, MTV VJ Rhea Chakraborty.
It helps that the film is under two hours long, which means it doesn't have the time or need to go overboard with anything, and is easy to sit through, endless tub of popcorn in hand. If not entirely surprising, MDKM’s conclusion is pretty amusing, so if you're giving this movie a go, do wait it out.
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