It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Karan Anshuman (Filmmaker/movie critic),
Karan Anshuman is a film critic for Mumbai Mirror. He's worked on a bunch of movie projects, none of which you've ever seen...yet! He's a history, photography, squash, web 2.0, food, and gaming enthusiast who would trade his soul to travel the world.
SHIRIN FARHAD KI TOH NIKAL PADI: Parsi Passion
Director: Bela Bhansali Sehgal; Cast: Boman Irani, Farah Khan
Considering their numbers, Parsis get more than their fair share of screen time in Bollywood. But no one’s complaining. Shirin Farhad ki Toh Nikal Padi is a film comprising of a nearly all-Parsi cast and is about Parsis, but is most definitely not only for Parsis. There has hardly been a more universal and relevant out-of-the-box romcom in recent times, even though it’s not the smoothest of rides for SFKTNP.
Farhad is a portly 45 and a salesman who works in a lingerie store. His colony and its inhabitants are right out of Rohinton Mistry’s Tales From Firozsha Baag. Brun maska, beer-guzzling aunties, Mangola, widespread senility, a shop called Tem Tem’s. His family and friends have failed at every attempt to set him up, but along comes the love of his life in the form of Shirin. The romance is wrinkle-free until mother realizes that this is the woman who is responsible for destroying her late husband’s last surviving legacy: an illegal overhead water tank. She gives Farhad an ultimatum: it’s either her or I.
The central reason why the crisis builds up effectively is the way the mother-son relationship is portrayed initially. She dotes on him and is proud of his honesty that ends up jeopardizing every chance of a hook up. He treats her like a best friend; laughing at her jokes, taking her out for a meal. When a man must make a choice between his family and his lover, you have the ultimate complication for the Indian male and a frayed Bollywood cliché. But when the man in question is 45, things get considerably more entertaining.
From one of the most original marriage proposal ideas to fart jokes from a senile old man who insists “Indira Gandhi married the wrong Feroze”, humor shapes the narrative in uneven bursts. If you’re easily affected, you will find yourself laughing hard and aloud on multiple occasions.
But Shirin Farhad ki Toh Nikal Padi is far from the tight, flawless film it could’ve been. Strange lip-sync songs are jarringly sung by mismatched voices end up akin to dirty linen in a dishwasher; entirely out of place. Also continually interrupting the flow are weak screenwriting moments such as characters speaking to themselves or asking their khoda for explanations, too much reliance on physical slapstick, and a repetition of ideas. The film could’ve taken a more mature turn in the third act, but it stays in its romcom comfort zone. A simple, real kiss between the protagonists would’ve gone a long way in making SFKTNP a more relatable and sincere story.
Boman Irani reinvents himself once again for this leading role. He is as reliable as he is effective. His performance and ease with his body accentuates the problems in Farah Khan’s debut, making her seem clumsy and incompetent. Having said that, she does grow on you as the film progresses (was it shot more or less linearly?) and you find yourself sympathizing with her character in her more vulnerable moments. Special mentions must be made for Daisy Irani and Shammi who plays Farhad’s lovable grandmother.
Director Bela Bhansali Sehgal’s choice of a simple, straightforward first film is understandably safe. Her idea of using original characters in clichéd settings to create and solve a universal problem is commendable. You just wished she’d gone the distance and not bowed to the vague notions of what sells for the audience.
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