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Shaadi Ke Side Effects review: A cliched take on relationships

Movie:
Shaadi Ke Side Effects
Director:
Saket Chaudhary
Cast:
Vidya Balan, Farhan Akhtar, Purab Kohli, Ram Kapoor, Vir Das, Rati Agnihotri
Avg user rating:

This particular manager of a fancy hotel is livid. He sees two people make-out wildly in the lobby and summons the man for a lecture, telling him the hotel is not a pick-up joint. Things cool down only when the manager understands that the woman was his wife. Sid (Farhan Akhtar) explains that this is their “purana game”— a ploy to add “tadka” in their relationship. This seems to be a happy, modern marriage— they’re supportive of each other, the board outside their home includes both the husband and wife’s surnames, and both are fulfilled career people, even if struggling.

So all’s swell, until they realize they’re pregnant. What now? One wants the baby, the other has to reconcile. Once the baby comes, while Trisha (Vidya Balan) is flush with the joy and excitement of motherhood, Sid is moping. He misses his former life and his wife’s attention which has now, naturally, been diverted towards their daughter.

Unfortunately, writer-director Saket Chaudhary (Pyaar Ke Side Effects) chooses to show the journey of marriage and parenthood decidedly from Sid’s perspective. The film would have been so much more complete and fun, had it brought both their points of view together.

At the beginning, you tolerate Sid’s whining, even empathizing a tad. But by the end, he turns out to be not just an insensitive husband, but also an uncaring father. Forgetting his child with a stranger, uninvolved, and never ever enjoying the fatherhood journey— he comes across as an overgrown brat rather than someone with a genuine issue.

Enter super-successful Ranvir (Ram Kapoor) who is everything Sid aspires to be, and they exchange some man-to- man advice. What he gets in return is an entry to “the club” and a lying alter-ego that helps him settle matters, at least initially. What happens next forms the film’s crux.

The way this character changes its mind would confuse anyone, let alone his befuddled wife. At one point, he decides to prepare for fatherhood by ‘going by the book’, at other times he decides a dose of bachelorhood is the way, and then comes an unexplained twist, which seems nothing more than a cop-out. Just like the film’s wrapping-up.

How this leopard changes its spots towards the end still remains a mystery. Also improbable is that Trisha doesn’t suspect anything is wrong with Sid or their marriage, despite him behaving as if he were suffering from a multiple personality disorder.

Sadly, the film is disappointingly replete with stereotypes: the reluctant boy-man who thinks marriage and fatherhood is a chore, and would rather play video games with his buddies; the overprotective new mother who happily gives up her career and promptly forgets her former life; the bachelor who scores with women and can't keep a clean apartment; and the seemingly perfect family man with a secret.

What’s the point of making a film on relationships, when you’re promoting stereotypes instead of challenging them? And judging by the enthusiastic fathers at kids’ annual days and events, this seems to be a cliched take on relationships, especially in present

But to its credit, the film does bring forth a hero who is not all about maar-dhaad and dialogue-baazi. He is a hero who is struggling both at home and at work. One wishes the film had continued to keep this character real, instead of turning him into a responsibility-shirking character who then, unexpectedly, does a complete turn-around.

The film has sprinkles of humour, inspired by Hollywood films and sitcoms. Despite the glaring lack of originality, it’s still funny. Note the scene at the khoi bag (a bag filled with pencils, erasers, sweets and confetti) bursting at a birthday party and the ruthlessness with which people collect stuff for their kids.

The performances are another plus. Farhan Akhtar is superb as Sid, despite the character’s improbable arch. Vidya Balan gives us a delightful rendering of Trisha, who is handling the additional responsibility of being a new mother, and dealing with a moping husband.

With a take on relationships that starts off as modern, but cops-out; it’s the humour and performances that are worth savouring. Guess that would even the scales for a just about decent watch.

Rating: Two and a half stars

 

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