The film steeped in Punjabi flavour, has young people as we know them. They don’t speak good English but are cool in their own way.
First things first, the similarity with the Hollywood stoner film Dude, Where’s My Car? ends with the basic premise of a couple of boys losing a car after a night of revelry. Here, they remember how they lost it. And we, the audience are let in on the adventures of the missing car quite early on. Unlike Dude, Where’s My Car? or Hangover where we had to wait till the end of the film to figure out what really happened.
And this choice of letting us in (screenplay by Neeraj Udhwani, Pooja Desai and Ashima Chibber) makes Mere Dad Ki Maruti a very different film altogether.
Set in Chandigarh, the film steeped in Punjabi flavour, has young people as we know them. They don’t speak good English but are cool in their own way. They know of Twitter but only as a means to reach out to Shah Rukh Khan. They see their parents for what they are, with all the imperfections, but accept and love them anyway.
In fact, the characters are fleshed out so strong, that Mere Dad Ki Maruti has enough meat to spark off a genuinely funny sitcom about the adventures of Sameer (Saqib Saleem), Gattu (Prabhal Panjabi) and Jazleen (Rhea Chakraborty). We saw Saqib and Prabhal earlier in Mujhse Fraandship Karoge and these young actors once again show plenty of promise to go a long way. They are both extremely natural and confident, while Prabhal with his comic timing will be an instant hit with the crowd.
Thirty minutes into the film, you realise that everyone in the cinema hall is laughing, and at regular intervals. We have warmed up to the actors who are relative newcomers and have settled in to watch their antics.
Nothing spectacularly funny ever happens yet you can’t wipe away the grin from your face all through because of the way director Ashima Chibber brings in the laughs from the most unexpected situations and characters.
Like the bit when the bride scandalises the prudes in the family with a raunchy item during her own sangeeth, leaving the groom and the brother confused on how they should react to her moves. It’s the kind of quirkiness we find in reality. Or the bit when the hero tells his brother-in-law to act surprised at the gift he will be getting.
This is a solid ensemble. From Ram Kapoor playing the titular Dad to Ravi Kissen as Hussain Bhai (the Pathan gangster the kids turn to for help) to the lesser known actors playing the bride and the groom, or the cop at the end, they are all in such fine form that they make willing suspension of disbelief a feel-good exercise.
What is surprising, however, is the strength of the emotional core in the father-son relationship in a seemingly light-hearted, frivolous-looking film.
Mere Dad Ki Maruti is a fine example of how you can make a film work by just sticking to basics — staying true to the characters you have created, the world they inhabit and the language they speak. This breezy drive through small-town Punjabi culture at the cusp of modernity is a triumph of smart writing.
Yashraj Films finally seems to have cracked it. Their youth banner Y Films has identified and found its audience, after a couple of disastrous outings. If Mujhse Fraandship Karoge showed promise, Mere Dad Ki Maruti delivers quality entertainment.
Not just to the young. But also the young at heart. Go for it.
Mere Dad Ki Maruti
Director: Ashima Chibber
Cast: Saqib Saleem, Rhea Chakraborty, Prabhal Panjabi, Ram Kapoor, Ravi Kissen
Storyline: Two days before his sister’s wedding, a playful son smuggles his Dad’s brand new car that’s to be gifted to the groom, loses it and looks for ways to replace the missing car.
Bottomline: A surprisingly fresh youthful feel-good film that will have audience of all ages laughing for two hours.