U/A: Comedy, drama
Dir: Raj Mehta
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh, Kiara Advani
At some point into the first few minutes in this film, the action shifts wholly to Delhi, among Punjabis playing Lori with that old lame, National Capital joke on Hola and Holi, as uncles and aunties hit the dance-floor to peppy beats. The subject is the sperm. What should it instantly remind you of? Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor (2012), obviously.
And then the story moves back to a posh Mumbai apartment/family, which frankly, is a sharp relief from small-town pictures (on taboo subjects), one after the other, set anywhere between Meerut and Moradabad. That genre, at least the terrible ones from the lot — ‘small-town’ for the sake of small-town — is beginning to grate on my nerves.
Coming back to this one: It is, as I said, about sperms, yes. Which I don’t know has a Hindi word in the first place. At least there is none in this film. The blingy Punjabi lead character (Diljit Dosanjh) from Chandigarh here, calls it, “Phaeda.” Never heard that before, either. This over-the-top Sardar bloke Batra has his sperms accidentally exchanged with another Batra (Akshay Kumar), both of whom are attempting a baby through IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) in the same hospital.
Both their wives (Kareena Kapoor, Kiara Advani) are now pregnant. Except, with the non-husband’s semen. How wide can you stretch this one-liner? Honestly, not much. And neither can the screenwriters here, once the set-up is complete, and they’ve painted themselves in the corner, with hardly anywhere to go, post the first half of the film — which, by the way, is a laugh riot, no doubt.
For one, given that the sperm itself has no popular Hindi word, and this looks closely at sperm count, ovulation, sleep patterns, pornography and semen donation, the works; it’d take some amount of smart, mature, comic writing to ensure the film doesn’t naturally slide into a B-grade farce — it doesn’t. It gets corny, on occasion; never coy. And that’s commendable.
Of course, none of this would be possible if it weren’t for the actors on screen, who seem in such comfy state. There’s something so intrinsically naïve and childlike about Dosanjh that it doesn’t matter what he plays; you begin to care for his character anyway. Likewise for Advani, as his wife. I’m told Dosanjh wasn’t the first choice for this role, and that a lot of changes needed to be made for him to fit the part.
That said, I’m not sure Akshay is the first star-actor you’d imagine in the role of the super-urbane, upper-class Mumbai chiller, who’s aced something called a fake male orgasm, if you may. Really, is there such a thing? Not sure.
What I am kinda sure about is this beer-guzzling, happily smoking character hasn’t done much doobie (pot) in life, given how he over-reacts to the spliff, going bat-shit nuts, unable to contain giggle-fits. What you can tell at the same time though is Akshay having a ball in this moohfat (chatty) role — tonally, quite close to his Priyadarshan comedies, a notch lower than Housefull 4; much higher than PadMan/Toilet type pictures, of course.
The fact that the couples in this film, unable to conceive a child otherwise, opt for IVF, as against adoption, is the narcissistic human tendency toward passing on one’s DNA into the world. And it should be mentioned here, at least looking at Kareena, 39, fit as a fiddle, and Akshay, 52, looking enviously fine, as if also in his 30s, in grey stubble — these are genes worth leaving behind!
The characters regularly mention celebrities and their baby pics on social media, and its impact on pressuring regular folk to have a child. Think that’s got more to do with IVF babies and surrogate children, given quite a few of them have had one in recent years. Including, if I’m not mistaken, Karan Johar, the Dharma Productions’ boss, this film’s producer.
There is much effort made at gently educating audiences about IVF in general, while entertaining them at the same time. Does give the film stronger legs to stand on. Don’t know what happens to these ‘Funjabi’ couples, once they have their child, and begin raising them as half-dads and full-moms. Wish them (and this film) well, for sure!
Watch Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor-starrer Good Newwz Trailer here:
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