Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Sidharth Malhotra, Adah Sharma
Director: Vinil Mathew
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
Meeta’s the sort of heroine who’d make the flesh of her ilk crawl. She’s into eating toothpaste, speaks Mandarin, dresses in junk clothes, plans to invent a strange bouncing ball. And he is a loser, cadging astronomical loans, yakking about a new IPL format, and is generally treated as a doormat. Whoa, here’s one helluva odd couple who invite plenty of hubble, bubble, toil and trouble.
The trump card of 'Hasee Toh Phasee', by first-time director Vinil Mathew, is the lead pair, who’re just about to dive into the depths of despair. Reason: Nikhil is just about to marry Meeta’s sister, what with a caboodle of relatives waiting to swing into those dance-till-they-drop mehndi and shaadi ceremonies.
Reminiscent of Jonathan Demme’s 'Rachel Getting Married', actually, the plot is at best papyrus-thin. Fortuitously the inspired performances, snatches of witty dialogue, a youthful zest and some truly guffaw-out-loud moments – like a shopping trip in Mumbai’s congested Bhuleshwar market–elevate this romedy cuts above the commonplace.
Surprisingly, Mathew a slick ad filmmaker, opts for the all-too-familiar Sooraj Barjatya style, going gaga over a horde of in-laws and a somewhat flat antakshari scene. Only that treacherously fatal staircase is missing from 'Hum Aapke Hain..Koun!'
Technically quite unadventurous, the camera is mostly static, the editing uses that hackneyed shot of an apartment complex for transitions and initially, the fade-outs slacken the pace. In fact, the opening half-hour expended on establshing time spans, cities and the vast ensemble of characters, is confusing.
Doubts about who’s who, why, where and when, niggle. Gratifyingly, once Mathew settles into concentrating on the wacky love story, you’re engrossed and amused.
Over, then, to Meeta (Parineeti Chopra) and Nikhil (Sidharth Malhotra). A quintessential prodigal, Meeta wants to reconnect with her family after a self-imposed exile of seven years. Not a good idea, he’s convinced, since she hasn’t been forgiven for vamoosing one fine evening. Indeed, the segment where he organises a ‘darshan’ of her father from afar, is as poignant as it is hilarious.
Equally effective is Meeta-Nikhil first embrace, on sensing that the old-fashioned feeling called ‘love’ has entered their chaotic relationship. Quite éclair-sweet, that.
“Don’t marry my sister,” Meeta says firmly, with no pretence at coyness. “Marry me,” upon which the besotted one, responds, “I can’t. I’m an emotional dhakan.”
Too much of a nice guy to jilt his bride (Adah Sharma), after years of courtship, Nikhil’s in a bind. The finale does head towards déjà vu melodrama, but for once you don’t roll your eyes. Instead you feel party to their sorry situation.
Using resonances from the earlier part of the script, the director succeeds in enticing empathy for the entire ensemble, except perhaps for a cruel Kaka (Screaming Machine) who behaves like a jail warden, slapping the first face in sight whenever he blows his top, which is often. Ouch, such a grouch.
Some of the peripheral characters are deftly sketched, particularly an aspiring singer Anu Malik (ahem), his thieving mom, and two sidekicks who make the funniest faces this side of the Cartoon Network.
In addition, Meeta’s father (Manoj Joshi, excellent), is accorded sufficient footage to swing from repressed rage to an outburst of feelings for his errant daughter. As for Nikhil’s dad (Sharat Saxena), he’s a perfect example of a cop who has retired but still insists on playing a glowering version of Sherlock Holmes. Quite funnily done.
On the downside, there are dull spots perhaps because of the protracted length of two-hours-20-minutes. Moreover, Vishal and Shekhar’s songs aren’t up to scratch, except for Zehnaseeb. Worse, the background music score is straight out of a TV soap. Its volume is as obtrusive as cellphones ringing in the auditorium. Yaargh.
Never mind. Because the performance of Parineeti Chopra reaffirms that she is absolutely outstanding. Ever so effortlessly, she glides between the high-pitched and the subtler quiet moments.
Sidharth Malhotra is pleasantly restrained, often communicating with silences instead of reams of dialogue. All said and watched, with all its highs and lows, 'Hasee Toh Phasee' is a mirth-see for its strongest factor: Ms Chopra.