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Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi  : Not Quite Naughty At 40
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Friday, August 24, 2012
Romantic comedy
Bela Bhansali Sehgal
Boman Irani
A fluffy, middle-aged Parsi love story that alas, stumbles without doing full justice to its inherent potential for wacky comedy.

The plot: Baap re, dikra, 40 and not yet married? Farhad Pastakia, salesman at a lingerie shop, is single at 45 and lives with his mother and grandmother. Nopes, he isn’t gay, but he’s never fallen in love. His anxious mom Nargis (Daisy Irani) and a motley set of relatives and friends try to fix him up with a suitable girl but Farhad won’t play ball until he falls in love. When he does, it’s love-at-first-sight but unfortunately it’s with single girl Shirin Fuggawala (Farah Khan), the one woman his mom hates with passion. “Choose between the two of us,” she rules at interval point.

The good: Debutant director Bela Bhansali escorts us into a lovably crazy world of Parsis. The unique lifestyle of Parsis is well detailed with those raspberry drinks, cane furnishings, distinct bawa dialect, slangs and general feel-good wackiness. There is a simple emotional connect as well with characters like Farhad’s neighbour who lives in a fantasy world where he’s pining for Indira Gandhi who married the wrong Firoze Gandhi or when Farhad tells Shirin that he likes her because she’s the only one who takes him seriously, or even when Farhad tells a prospective bride the truth about his social status.

There are a few gags and one-liners that also add to the amusing ambience like the scene where Farhad’s mother and aunt sit around downing beer. Also the scene where Nargis asks Farhad’s school friend for his ex-wife’s whereabouts to set up Farhad with her, gathers several laughs for its pointed honesty. The wackiness of Parsis is captured where Nargis and her sister decide to take their neighbour to the hospital because he hasn’t passed wind for two days.

One of the most commendable qualities about Shirin Farhad is the splendid performance by Boman Irani who gives likeable energy to Farhad and keeps the action alive practically all by himself. Farah Khan is averagely good and Bela Sehgal smartly utilises her grace as a dancer-choreographer to set off a few giggles. Kavin Dave as Sarosh (Farhad’s friend/colleague), Daisy Irani as Nargis and ageing actress Shammi as the grandma are bang-on with their performances.

The bad: Once again, it’s the same affliction that most Hindi films suffer from – a gem of an idea that goes haywire with loose writing. In spite of being such a small and diminishing community where Farhad and Shirin have been through every matrimonial opening, how they don’t come across each other till they are in their 40s is tough to fathom. There is the absence of a spine on which the whole screenplay can rest with clumsily tied rolls of one-liners thrown around to try and entertain. The gags fall flat like the exaggerated violent Parsi colony meetings which are too farcical to raise a laugh. The humour is fun at the beginning but soon crosses over into the ridiculous, especially in the unbelievably stretched climax on New Year’s Eve. Why on earth Farhad couldn’t tell the zany neighbours that he was visiting Shirin and had to get beaten up, taken to the police station etc when he could have made one phone call to his girlfriend, is beyond belief. For that matter, why he doesn’t tell Shirin right at the beginning why his mother dislikes her is also inexplicable.

The music too isn’t really fun enough to make an old couple’s romance look cute with the love songs looking forced and adding to the plodding screen time (112 mins).

Overall: Pleasing in instalments but the instalments are served far too infrequently for complete satisfaction.

~ Pooja Thakkar
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