Dum Laga Ke Haisha review: Ayushmann, Bhumi Pednekar will make you believe in love
The only letdown in Dum Laga ke Haisha down is the ending, which seems a little too happy and pat. But this is a film meant to make you smile and believe in love.
Scratch a Roadie, find a superlative actor? Ayushmann Khurrana has struck gold once again – this time with a film which takes you back to films like Jhoothi, Griha Pravesh and Chupke Chupke. Films that I at least thought would never be made by today’s Bollywood. Yes, we had a Vicky Donor which was a slice of life film with enough laughs and just the right amount of tears. And I remember the really delightful Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh, with Rajpal Yadav, Rituparna Sengupta and Kay Kay Menon. But that’s it. Not even a handful.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha actually turns a part of the storyline of Mein, Meri Patni Aur Woh on its head. In the latter, Yadav played the not particularly good looking man, who gets married to a tall, slim and good looking woman. He then proceeds to believe that she can’t possibly love him and must be cuckolding him with her friend, the handsome and tall Kay Kay Menon. Which was a plausible paranoia for him to have. In Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Khurrana is shown as an average, fit young man who has never managed to clear his Class X exams. He is pressurised into marrying a woman who is pretty, has completed her B Ed, is fun and funky – but is double his weight and size.
Set in Haridwar in 1995, Khurrana is Prem, a young man who lives with his parents and bua. His sisters are married and live elsewhere. His father and he run a cassette shop. Sandhya (Bhumi Pednekar), the bride-to-be, is from an “educated family” as a matrimonial ad would say, and seems much better off than Prem's family.
But you see, she’s fat.
So the implication is that no one is agreeing to marry her, which is why she must marry Prem. Sandhya does take a shine to him when the priest makes both families meet – but it’s what my grandmother would refer to as marrying “beneath her”.
The film – without giving away too much of the plot – is about how Prem simply cannot get himself to like his wife, no matter how lovely and friendly she tries to be. She’s fat and that is it. Meanwhile, she simply wants him to love her - after all there’s no accounting for taste.
The film wins you over in various ways. First, all the actors look their parts. You don’t have a Deepika Padukone or an Anushka Sharma or a Shah Rukh Khan trying to pass off as the average, lower middle class or middle class person, with their perfect figures, well-toned bodies and colour-coordinated chiffon kurtas. The casting is spot on. Especially of Bhumi Pednekar, as the portly bride Sandhya. She’s a pretty, but bulky woman. And one who is completely at ease with her weight, not understanding why it should be a cause for friction. She's almost surprised when she realises that this, her body confidence, is what irks Prem.
Dum Laga ke Haisha is a feel good film and you pretty much know how it will end just by looking at its posters and watching the trailer. But it’s the dialogues, the little moments in the film like when Prem's mother faints upon receiving a divorce notice, when despite Sandhya’s charms he still can’t rise to occasion in bed, that make Dum Laga ke Haisha worth a watch. The PE classes in the shakha gathering in the morning are hilarious for their earnestness. And Prem's parents and aunt’s involvement and tips, to help him consummate the marriage, are hilarious.
When Prem finally does have sex, the mother wonders whether she should call and inform his sisters immediately or wait till morning. This is life as most of India lives it – where newlyweds have sex two feet away from the rest of the family. And there’s little shame in discussing whether you did it or not. But then you cut across to Sandhya’s educated family, where her father ticks her off for discussing whether or not she’s consummated her marriage.
There are so many little commentaries on education, sex, weight, looks, women making the first move, insecurities between couples – there’s much to love in this film. There is also great attention to detail of life in the Nineties – when you’d make mixed tapes, when cassettes slowly gave way to CDs; when we had to connect our VCRs to the TV, open a video tape and blow on the tape to remove any dust.
I doubt Bhumi Pednekar will get more leading roles in Hindi commercial cinema, which would be a terrible pity if true because you'd never guess this was the former assistant's first time in front of the camera. Hopefully, we'll at least see more of her in character roles. It's impressive that Yash Raj Films has backed a film which is difficult to imagine pulling in the big bucks. But they may just have a winner on their hands with this one.
Dum Laga ke Haisha is an out and out feel-good film, but perhaps what will really make you smile is that maybe, just maybe, after seeing films like Vicky Donor and Dum Laga Ke Haisha making money, Bollywood will churn out some more wonders like this. It’s always a welcome change to go into a theatre, be entertained and amused thoroughly, and not have to indulge in any willing suspension of disbelief while doing so.
The music in the film is lovely and is present more as a background score. You won't believe Anu Malik has written the music. Kumar Sanu, the main man from the Nineties, plays a pivotal role in the film as well. The song "Moh Moh Ke Dhaaga" is simply beautiful, and the lyrics have been written by the very talented Varun Grover.
The only letdown in Dum Laga ke Haisha down is the ending, which seems a little too happy and pat. But this is a film meant to make you smile and believe in love. Go watch the film, I highly recommend it.
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