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Movie review 'Khoobsurat': Resist the urge to compare and you will come out smiling

DC | KUSUMITA DAS
Published Sep 19, 2014, 7:40 pm IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:38 am IST
This Khoobsurat may not have the realistic charm of its predecessor

Director: Shashanka Ghosh

Cast: Fawad Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aamir Raza Hussain, Kirron Kher

 

Rating: 3 stars

If one is attempting to remake a classic, the casting has to be pitch-perfect. Because there’s no point denying that comparisons are inevitable, no matter how “unfair” they may seem. Can Sonam Kapoor pull of a Rekha? The answer is no. Miss Kapoor has a long way to go before she walks the fine line between being bubbly and being hammy. Considering she’s the central character of the film or at least meant to be the one, Sonam does pull down the narrative a little. This negative apart, Shashanka Ghosh’s millennium version of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s classic manages to entertain, and that’s largely because the rest of the cast does a fine job.

Ratna Pathak Shah steps into her mother Dina Pathak’s shoes as the matriarch and brings her own flair to the role. Aamir Raza Husain takes Ashok Kumar’s place as the passive patriarch and manages to make his take remarkably different from the original. And Fawad Khan, the Pakistani heart throb that has been winning hearts in Hindustan too, makes an uber suave replacement for Rakesh Roshan – think Roshan senior’s silky wig versus Fawad’s luscious mane, neatly combed in a pompous regal pouf and sometimes irresistibly unkempt the ladies certainly won’t complain. What’s more, the eye candy’s got some serious acting chops too, but more on that later.

Shashanka retains the core premise of Mukherjee’s 80’s classic, but changes the setting. The story of this film unfolds in a royal backdrop where Mili (Sonam), a physiotherapist working with an IPL team, is hired by the royal Rathod family, as the doctor of the king (Aamir Raza Hussain) whose legs have been rendered dysfunctional by an accident. Since the same accident also killed his elder son, the guilt ridden king doesn’t want to feel better and hence poses a mega challenge for Mili, who happens to be his 42nd physiotherapist. His younger son Vikram Singh Rathod (Fawad) looks after the estate while looking like a million dollars himself, in a new suit in almost every scene. He seems to have fallen off a high-fashion men’s magazine and it’s clear the makers spent a lot of time to nail the look. It seems unreal at times but then who knows, maybe that’s how the royals live.

The queen (Ratna) has taken charge of the royal household and her job is mainly to not smile and keep time. She’s hardly the central antagonist that Dina Pathak was, but the story affectionately explores the intricacies of her relationship with her husband, thus making her steely persona somewhat relatable. At a polar opposite end is Manju, (Kirron Kher) who plays Mili’s mother. The thought of Kirron playing the loud Punjabi mother yet again was yawn inducing, but she has some of the best lines in the film and provides much mirth. Look out for the scene where Mili introduces her to the king on Skype, while she’s peeling oranges. A classic middle-class-meets royalty. The film has several such strokes.

There’s no joint family here and the characters in the royal family make no direct compromises on their choices. Circumstances have created an emotional distance between them over the years. There’s a scene where Vikram comes to meet his father after days and the two have almost nothing to talk about after exchanging pleasantries. The awkwardness in the scene is beautifully portrayed by the two actors. It is this emotional distance between the family members that Mili tries to mend. But there is no explanation for the royal doctor to look like a hippie on her first day of college. The neon shades of Sonam’s costumes are as much jarring to the eyes as they are to the storyline.

The romance between Fawad and Sonam is indulgent but has its engaging moments too. Fawad, who doesn’t have too many lines in the film, shows why he doesn’t even need them, because he can teach a thing or two about emoting with his eyes alone. His classy, regal restraint is perfect foil to Sonam’s effervescence, which gets a bit much time and again.  

A special mention for Sneha Khanwalkar’s music, a fine mix of earthy and electro beats with a Rajasthani soul. The track Maa Ka Phone manages to become almost a character in the film, as it is also Mili’s oft-played ringtone.  

This Khoobsurat may not have the realistic charm of its predecessor and certain twists seem abrupt. But it is the convincing performances by Aamir, Fawad, Ratna and Kirron that manage to lift the storyline. And when little things go wrong, Fawad’s intense gaze helps you forget them. Bollywood may have just found its Mr Darcy.

Watch the film, resist the urge to compare and you will come out smiling.

 

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