Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

July 11, 2014

Shooting the breeze

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:37 pm

July 11, 2014

Cast: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Ashutosh Rana, Siddharth Shukla

Director: Shashank Khaitan

In the very opening credits sequence of Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, the film’s hero, played by Varun Dhawan, is seen getting teary eyed as he catches the umpteenth rerun of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge on television. Directed by debutant Shashank Khaitan, the film wears its obsession with DDLJ like a badge of honor, and offers a cheeky spin on that enduring love story.

Dilli boy Rakesh Sharma (Dhawan), still stuck with the nickname that he acquired when he was a fat kid, meets feisty Ambala girl Kavya Pratap Singh (Alia Bhatt) when she’s in town to buy a lehenga for her impending marriage to an NRI doctor of her father’s picking. It’s inevitable that the pair will fall in love, and as they gradually do, their rat-a-tat exchanges and easy-going chemistry makes the film’s first hour a breezy enough entertainer.

In a fitting update that reminds us nearly two decades have passed since Raj and Simran’s PG-13 romance, the couple in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania sleeps together before she heads back home. (Come on, that’s hardly a spoiler; it’s in the trailer!) What’s refreshing is that Khaitan never treats this as a major plot point or a ‘big moment’, merely a natural progression of their love. Wow! Could popular Hindi cinema finally be growing up?

Aah, we jinxed it. Because the second half of the film revisits all the usual clichés including the stubborn father who must be won over, the womenfolk who sympathize with the poor girl’s situation but can’t do much to change the patriarch’s mind, and in a nice twist from Parmeet Sethi’s bawdy groom-to-be, an impossibly perfect spousal candidate (TV star Siddharth Shukla) whose patta must be kaatoed. Fortunately all this is interspersed with a sizeable helping of humor, and the presence of Humpty’s two best friends Shonty and Poplu (Gaurav Pande and Sahil Vaid) who liven up the proceedings.

Yet the film rests on the appeal of its two leads who’re nothing short of terrific. Alia has a livewire presence, literally lighting up the screen when she’s in the frame. But it’s Varun who has the slight edge here, effortlessly pulling off both goofy and genuinely heartfelt. The film works – despite employing every predictable trope – because they’re on top of their game. Of the supporting players, Ashutosh Rana is well cast in the Amrish Puri role, nicely humanizing the character instead of leaving it out to dry as a lazy stereotype.

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania comes peppered with smart dialogue, and filled with genuine affection for a cinematic blockbuster that it repeatedly references…but with flair. I’m going with three out of five. Watch it for Varun and Alia, who’re crackling in it!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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