A dying mother, four young sisters and a vow that until he’s got them all wed in pomp, he won’t ever be the bridegroom. Watching with horror is his childhood love Sapna (Bhumi Pednekar).
It makes for a promising premise to set a film on.
But for its all-out tone of staleness which would perhaps have been welcome in the 70s when dowry tales were in circulation.
A wedding in the neighbourhood is about to be cancelled because a brand new red car hasn’t arrived. The showroom’s closed for the day, it’ll arrive tomorrow. The groom’s all set to go back until Kedarnath pani-puriwala (Akshay Kumar) steps in, gets the showroom opened and a red car zooms into the venue. Yeah, the wedding’s on.
Really? Which world is this? One may argue that in the heartland such scenes are an everyday occurrence. But overweight girls who eat like food’s going out of fashion and defiantly declare, “I love my body” aren’t exactly the pliant brides that director Aanand L Rai has on the marriage market.
Kanika Dhillon and Himanshu Sharma co-write the plight of the pani-puri stall owner and caterer by plonking him in today’s Chandni Chowk but use yesteryear’s politically incorrect tools for “comedy”. The four sisters are like uncaring leeches who bicker among themselves, demand taxi fare from Kedara and don’t do a damn to help themselves except wait around for the brother to give them fat dowries and get them married. Girlfriend Sapna too does nothing but wait around to get married.
In the Dhillon-Sharma lexicon of laughs, one girl is grossly overweight (referred to as “double decker” by Kedara), another is dark (“Stop going out in the sun, use fairness cream”), the third is a tomboy (“Sunny Deol has to be turned into Sunny Leone”) – all disasters in the marriage market. Body shaming, skin shaming, stammering twins, a fat Chandramukhi from the neighbourhood whose father finds her a match…name it and every no-no in political correctness is present. There’s only one sister who’s pretty and she cooks and feeds the family too. But that’s no guarantee for wedded bliss as dowry demands are unending. “Woh maangte rahen aur hum dete rahen,” wails Kedara the brother.
Comedy also comes from the sisters and the brother taking turns to nix any matrimonial match that’s fixed for bride-in-eternal-waiting Sapna. There’s even one where the desperate brother strangely disrupts his own sisters’ match with twin brothers who stammer which makes no sense at all.
What is the story that this team of Aanand-Kanika-Himanshu want to narrate? With gol-gappas that promise a male child, a matchmaker (Seema Pahwa) on the scene, background songs for every occasion, like ‘Ishq manaye maatam’ when there’s a death, flashbacks to their younger days, and even a kidney-selling scene straight out of Anil Kapoor’s 1985 film ‘Saaheb’, the content and the narrative style are long past their expiry dates. For instance, someone mentions the word ‘kangan’ and everybody breaks into the ‘Rubywala kangan’ song and dance.
Akshay Kumar gets to do it all. He bashes up people who whistle at his sisters and ends it with the regressive line, “Those who tease girls must marry them”. He’s hapless, he’s driven to tears and his comic timing is perfect in the scene with the stammering twins although the sequence itself is baffling.
But the message of bringing up the girl child to stand on her own feet gets lost in the last millennium noise of Chandni Chowk.
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