By Neha Bora
Once there was a Kataar Singh, and he was a mechanic.
He loved the game of cricket and wanted to play for India, but training required money which he did not have.
He would go and stand at the fencing of the ground everyday and watch people playing cricket far away in the main ground.
The seemingly little but significant distance between Kataar Singh and the cricket pitch is the significant distance between the topic of sex as a taboo and the film Khaandani Shafakhana by Shilpi Dasgupta. The ball might come to Kataar Singh a few times during the match but it is never his to play with.
Writer Gautam Mehra decided to take the most taboo topic of society i.e. ‘sex’ with the intent of challanging it’s status in the same society, then he decided to take upon the most difficult genre to write in i.e. ‘comedy’.
The combination of the two has been seen in Bollywood films before, although only a handful number of times, but then he decided to base his script for the movie on a woman in an industry where women don’t do comedies, even in the films that are comedies.
I painstakingly elaborate this three-pronged venture of the script because it demands to be mentioned.
This is also necessary because from here-on all does downhill. It is perhaps true that in order to understand a film’s understanding of itself, one need only look as far as the protagonists’ understanding of themselves and their worlds.
This also rings true in case of Ms Baby Bedi, a high-spirited girl from hoshiyarpur, who just wishes to fulfill her responsibilities towards her family. She inherits the sex clinic (which she wants to sell for money) from her ‘hakeem’ uncle on the condition that she run it for 6 months. Then comes her struggle with society and family and how they view the issue of ‘sex’.
The script rings hollow, with only slightly amusing punches and a shallow story line. The characters are paper thin and during the entire length of the movie their float about weightless without any justifies background tethering.
Sonakshi Sinha’s character, much like all her previous characters, is a stick figure. When Baby (Sinha) is fighting the society to start a discussion on ‘sex’, we don’t root for her because we don’t care enough and we also know the script is easy and she will win in the end, when Varun Sharma’s character talks about being for ‘HomoPride’, we know it’s just to keep up with the new standard of inclusive society’s cinema, we aren’t over-whelmed in the under-whelming court-room scene, and we don’t talk about sex to anyone after the movie because we just didn’t care.
Annu Kapoor, who did wonders in Vicky Donor in a similar role, is wasted and lost in this film.
Badshah plays Badshah with a different name and seems to show more acting skills than one might have expected from him. Rajesh Sharma has been written into annoyance and the rest of the supporting cast, too is faded background.
The music was non-contributory to the film. The beginning ‘Shahar Ki Ladki’ is unnecessary, ‘Bheege Mann’ is placed where it might be missed, the ‘Koka’ song is played at the end as the mandatory rap song. The background score does not make it’s presence felt.
Since, Khandani Shafakhana aims to open discourse on ‘sex’ in the style of a comedy and Sonakshi Sinha already called Ayushman Khurana’s work in this field to attention, the film will be compared with Vicky Donor and Shubh Mangal Savdhaan.
Juhi Chaturvedi is a writer who knows her characters and her story is effortlessly actualised by Soojit Sircar in the form of Vicky Donor. It doesn’t try to preach without having a story to tell. Shubh Mangal Savdhaan too is endearing and true to its story which just happens to be about a man suffering from erectile dysfunction.
None of the two is preachy in it’s tone, but both of them work better is doing what Khandani Shafakhan tries to do with the message it is trying to convey and let’s not joke ourselves, most films like having ‘a moral of the story’!
Shilpi Dasgupta and all other aspiring writers and directors of the genre, by all means dive into the genre of comedies about sex, but begin by becoming aware of your content, atleast more aware than the society whose rules and orthodox customs you are trying to derive your comedy from!
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FF Ranking: **
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