Mumbai, 28 Feb 2020 8:30 IST
Gagan Puri's film has some laughs, but it is not a scintillating comedy powered by wit and sparkling dialogues. It is more of a slow-moving sitcom that misses as many punchlines as it lands.
Nostalgia can be a beautiful thing. Sometimes it props up hope and brings people together. But like all good things, it needs proper treatment. Gagan Puri's Doordarshan seems to lack that. The film does build on some quick comic timing, decent acting and a laissez-faire attitude of its Delhi ethos but has little to go with in terms of plot and storytelling.
The story revolves around Manu Rishi Chadha's hapless Sunil, a man in his late forties preparing for an upcoming divorce. Priya (Mahie Gill), his wife, is angry and bullish as ever, and would not back down from her demands. Sunil also faces the problem of his son, Sunny (Shardul Rana), a horny teenager obsessed with pornography and his landlord's daughter (Mehek Manwani). Through all this, Sunil takes care of his mother, Darshan Kaur (Dolly Ahluwalia), who has been in a coma for 35 years.
The trouble begins when Darshan Kaur regains consciousness, and the doctor leaves the predictable warning, 'Don't give her any shocking news.' So, Sunil being the dutiful son, sets out to recreate the world around his mother as it was when she slipped into a coma.
Gagan Puri's film is not a scintillating comedy that is driven by wit and sparkling lines. It is more of a slow-moving sitcom that misses as many punchlines as it lands. In that, it is quite similar to the television serials of the 1980s. Its emotional undertone often pulls down the slapstick sense of humour running through it. The dialogues don't fire up but are not terrible either.
The terrible part lies in the gags that the film tries to pull. They are stereotypical and often trying too hard. Puri's writing struggles to find its centre. The film's oscillation between an emotional drama and a complete slapstick comedy, with bouts of giggles over pornographic Hindi novels, feels a little childish.
The artistes are quite well cast, with Manu Rishi Chadda and Mahie Gill leading the way. The two do their best, even in the most absurd situations, but the lack of a tight screenplay goes against them. They are supported well by Dolly Ahluwalia, another fantastic actress, who is also let down by a weakly written character. Among the others, Rajesh Sharma deserves a mention.
However, the plot of Darshan Kaur's awakening and the entire episodes set around recreating the late 1980s do not come through because of glaring loopholes. The idea that Darshan does not recognize her clearly 50-year-old son and does so when he wears a school uniform is quite the trick. Also, while she has seen a mobile phone (described as a transistor), why would she not have heard it across the room?
Of course, there is the reminder that you need to set logic aside. But even suspension of disbelief requires some belief to exist. That becomes difficult. The humour, the lines and the performances are all on a par with the film. If only some more work had been put into the writing of it.
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