5 Weddings movie review: Rajkummar Rao is a misfit in this jaded film with an uninspiring Nargis Fakhri

Udita Jhunjhunwala

October 26, 2018 08:39:42 IST

2/5

Lured by the prospect of taking over as the editor of an American magazine, journalist Shania Dhaliwal (Nargis Fakhri) travels from California to India in order to cover five Indian weddings. Clearly, Shania did not spend too much time on pre-production or research because the five Punjabi weddings – which, as per brief, should be neither slumdog nor millionaire - do not captivate her imagination as much as the hijras that dance at weddings do.

Rajkummar Rao and Nargis Fakhri in a still from 5 Weddings. YouTube

Rajkummar Rao and Nargis Fakhri in a still from 5 Weddings. YouTube

This sidebar editorial ruffles the feathers of local law enforcement. It is not clear why they should mind, or why Shania is assigned a liaison officer. Officer Harbhajan Singh (Rajkummar Rao) is put on duty to chaperone this American journalist and report any suspicious activity. The only thing really suspicious is the brown paper wrapped package she is carrying around. Except it is not contraband, but memorabilia her American mother (Bo Derek) has sent for Shania’s estranged Punjabi father.

So Shania visits five Punjabi wedding functions where she encounters some over-the-top enthusiastic locals, including a singing duo called Cookies and Cream. There is also a funeral, but fortunately there is not an airport climax,

This comatose rom-com (screenplay by Denise Cruz-Castino, Andy Glickman and Namrata Singh Gujral) is punctuated with irritants. For instance, the airport announcement says welcome to Chandigarh one moment and in the next, announces that the New York-Delhi flight has landed. Further, why do the policemen, driver and other local characters speak to each other in English when, clearly, Punjabi would be their preferred language. Ravi Aneja, who plays the driver 'Donald', sounds like he learnt English at the same language school where the '70s British sitcom Mind Your Language was set. Shania has arachnophobia for two minutes, and then it is forgotten, so why write it in?

As culturally challenged as Shania is, Harbhajan is equally sarcastic and dismissive of her stereotyped view of India. This banter could have worked had their been even a hint of chemistry between Rao and Fakhri, and some humour in the writing. There is only so much Rao can do when working with such a jaded script and an uninspiring co-star. It leads you to wonder what drew him to this film anyway.

Director Namrata Singh Gujral’s Indo-American saga feels like a dated crossover movie of the genre that was being churned out in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Second generation immigrants overcoming a crisis of identity, reconnecting with their roots, finding love against the backdrop of Indian exotica has been done to death. If anything, the sidebar plot point of speaking up for those who identify as transgender is film’s one saving grace.

Updated Date: Oct 26, 2018 08:39 AM