Shaadi Ke Side Effects (U/A)
Cast: Vidya Balan, Farhan Akhtar, Vir Das, Ram Kapoor, Rati Agnihotri
Direction: Saket Choudhary
Shaadi Ke Side Effects tells the story of modern, nuclear marriages -- a relationship that’s burdened by gargantuan expectations, that must fulfil every need and outperform even the experts in all rooms – bedroom, kitchen, dining, living and the study. And then there’s the outdoor.
Director Saket Choudhary’s sequel to his 2006 Pyaar Ke Side Effects is like a ready reckoner for a while, using examples of standard operating procedure of husbands and wives to tell where the land mines lie, and how to dodge them. And of course, the outcome when you don’t.
If one were to map the entertainment and comic quotient of Shaadi Ke Side Effects, the graph would look like an inverted V.
We are a bit wary as the film takes off on one of those mildly-funny-but-annoying shaa
Till the interval it’s great fun being a fly on the wall of this marriage, because the film honestly and smartly chronicles your own, current or future. After interval, however, you are likely to find your own marriage more engaging, current or future, monotonous or otherwise.
Their body language and dialogue tell us that it’s kinky role-play, a facade they are putting up not just to draw us in, but also to establish the tone and tenor of the film and their relationship.
And then Phase 2: Baby. Slow death of the husband and wife, as they become mummy and daddy, and inhabit a new relationship that's laced with guilt, resentment, frustration, anger and compromises.
The film nicely shows how mommy Trisha quickly moves in with the baby, while Sid stands alone, feeling like a tenant in his own house. But Sid is a good guy. He’s eager to please, do the right thing. So he tries to be a part of everything.
Pregnancy, delivery, being mommy, even taking part, howsoever reluctantly, in tyrannical parenting. But it’s an unhappy situation because she’s in a new relationship while he’s still holding on to the old one. And then stuff starts to pile up. Trisha wants to be a full-time mommy. So she quits her job, forgets life can be fun, gains weight, and slowly the husband checks out.
While Shaadi Ke Side Effects chronicles the changes a woman goes through, mostly hormonal apparently, on which swing her moods and sexual appetite, throughout the film we hear only hear Sid’s inner voice. Meaning, there’s not much a woman can do. That she, in a sense, is beyond her own control. And that it’s up to the man to fix the marriage -- by being careful, caring, complimenting often, being a good nappy changer and keeping the TV volume on zero.
Sid is sweet, desperate to be a good husband and daddy who may not know the right side of the towel, the soft one which women seem to know instinctively, yet makes it his life’s mission to figure out.
Up until now the film is a great deal of fun. But then it drags in other, lesser actors and characters – Vir Das, Ram Kapoor, Ila Arun – to dish out marital advice and the film goes all warped.
The best part about Shaadi Ke Side Effects is the sense you get of how similar and clichéd most marriages are. And that no matter how many books you read, or helpful movies you watch and try to make yours different, you will fail. It’s this comical connect the film is able to make in the first half that draw the maximum laughs.
Problems begin when Chaudhury tries to find a solution, a formula to happy marriages, to end his film on a happy, optimistic note, one that’ll keep all the banquet halls in business. A slightly more real, less fraudulently wholesome end would have made Shaadi Ke Side Effects a better film.