Zara Hatke Zara Bachke : Refreshing quirk lost in second half

Sara Ali Khan and Vicky Kaushal in Zara Bachke Zara Hatke. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

Before Hera Pheri (2000) changed it all, despite some standout examples, it was believed that total comedies do not work in Hindi cinema. Laxman Utekar’s latest, Zara Hatke Zara Bachke, seems to woefully subscribe to this outdated assumption. A fresh, full-of-quirky-fun saga until most of the second half, it slides to some needless seriousness, and then just when I thought that that part would be rapidly solved, comes additional melodrama as well as an unconvincing solution to a moral dilemma.

Yes, the moral dilemma needed a solution, but emphatically not in the fanciful way suggested. The end, therefore, neither solves the protagonists’ problem (for which they put in so much effort) satisfactorily nor seems logically and rationally plausible. Why should a penny-watching (over-) pragmatic husband and his (largely practical) wife do what they do for a stranger?

Over then to Kapil Dubey (Vicky Kaushal) and Somya nee Chawla (Sara Ali Khan) Dubey, who are newlyweds (in a love marriage), living in a joint Indore family with Kapil’s parents (Akash Khurana and Anubha Fatehpuria) and his maternal uncle and aunt (Neeraj Sood, Kanupriya Pandit). Kapil and Somya need their own space and try to buy their own house. But even in small-town Indore, this seems a remote possibility with their humble incomes (he is a Yoga trainer and she is teaching in private coaching classes).

An accidental knowledge of a government housing scheme for the economically-backward finds them equally helpless as neither is entitled to it as the scheme’s terms and conditions are not met. A shady tea-supplier in that office, Bhagwan Das (Inaamulhaq), helps out by smoothening the way for such buyers who can thus become “eligible” by crooked means. Tempted by his shrewd suggestion that the two divorce each other (on paper) temporarily, Kapil and Somya go ahead, and their families, not privy to the big secret reason, are aghast.

Somya belongs to Punjab, which invites taunts from the maternal aunt repeatedly, and her parents are shown as fully stereotypical, mom a shade loud and accented, and the father prone to alcohol. Meanwhile, in the apartment that Somya rents out temporarily, there is a watchman (Sharib Hashmi), who is over-conscientious yet a shade gullible. Not to mention the hero’s divorce lawyer friend (Himanshi Kohli), who advises the couple to keep cool in adversity, and the neighbor, Mehjabeen (Srishti Ganguli Rindani, an interesting actress) who has always wanted Kapil as her future partner and seizes the opportunity.

The film starts out as a rollercoaster of fun, but the needless old-fashioned melodrama from the second half spoils all the fun. In short, Kapil and Somya almost make their fake divorce come true, and the maternal aunt almost dies of cirrhosis. As the very recent releases Jogira Sara Ra Ra and Kathal showed, even serious topics can be doggedly dealt with and culminated in a humorous way. And such resolution is more upbeat and wholesome.

What else is old? The film’s title, derived from a 1956 Johnny Walker-enacted hit song from CID, and a vintage Love Story hit song used even used as part- background music, besides two other old songs mentioned in the end-credits but not heard within the film.

After eons, this film has an original and worthy music score by composers Sachin-Jigar and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya. However, the lavishly-shot Baby tujhe paap lagega is missing from the film.

Vicky Kaushal is convincing as Kapil, and so is Sara Ali Khan as Somya. From the rest, I liked Kanupriya Pandit as maamiji, the maternal aunt. And more than Sharib Hashmi’s routine act, I preferred the subtle touch to Atul Tiwari’s judge and Inaamulhaq’s reasonably over-the-top performance. Yes, and I absolutely loved the hotel boy and his expressions.  Himanshi Kohli as the divorce lawyer also made a mark.

It’s rare that a film slides so much post-interval. Director-co-writer Laxman Utekar (whose base skills as DOP were awesome and whose earlier Hindi films, Luka Chhupi and Mimi connected with the audience despite being average fare) may strike third-time lucky. But I would have personally preferred him to maintain the great form seen in the first half. Instead of being, in theory, zara bachke (on the safe side), he would have then delivered a truly zara hatke (refreshingly different) fare.

Rating: *** (Just About)

Jio Studios & Maddock Films present Zara Hatke Zara Bachke  Produced by: Jyoti Deshpande & Dinesh Vijan  Directed by: Laxman Utekar  Written by: Laxman Utekar, Maitrey Bajpai & Ramiz Ilham Khan Music: Sachin-Jigar  Starring: Vicky Kaushal, Sara Ali Khan, Anubha Fatehpuria, Akash Khurana, Rakesh Bedi, Sushmita Mukherjee, Neeraj Sood, Kanupriya Pandit, Inaamulhaq, Sharib Hashmi, Atul Tiwari, Srishti Ganguli Rindani & others





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