‘Behen Hogi Teri’ review: Love in the neighbourhood

A still from the movie   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Some of the best of Hindi comedies have emerged out of a trifle—a young botany professor playing a practical joke on his brother-in-law in Chupke Chupke; a love guru teaching a few romantic chops to a shy guy in Chhotisi Baat. Behen Hogi Teri could have also joined the ranks, provoked as it is by a bit thing—the unformulated practice in North Indian towns of forcing young men and women of the neighbourhood to regard each other as siblings. Many blooming love stories have been forced to die untimely at the altar of the weird rakhi-tying ritual. Lucknow boy Gattu Nautiyal (Rajkummar Rao) silently rebels against it because he loves the girl next door Binni Arora (Shruti Haasan). How then can he be turned into her bhai? But so shorn is the script of any sparkling situations and steady humour that the stealthy love becomes wearisome beyond a point.

Things are set up well initially—the chai and biskut date; Gattu’s constant gaze on her but her studied indifference; Gattu referring to her as his “knicker ke zamane ki mohabbat (the love of his life since childhood days when he used to be clad in shorts)” and how the throwaway expression of it was a prank on his part—“gut kholna” (untying her plait). Then there is the oddly comic sequence of romance thriving in the middle of morbid death. “Main, tum aur daadi ki laash jugon jugon tak aise hi rahein (You me and the dead body of grandmother should stay on like this forever),” he says to himself, while sitting with her, mourning her grandma’s death.

Behen Hogi Teri
  • Director: Ajay K Pannalal
  • Starring: RajKummar Rao, Shruti Haasan, Herry Tangri, Ranjeet, Gulshan Grover, Darshan Jariwala
  • Storyline: Lucknow boy resents the unwritten rule of regarding all the locality's young women as sisters, especially when it comes in the way of his love for one of them

The film could have been a nice satire on the role-playing that men and women are forced into by the patriarchal construct of our society and the unhealthy segregation of sexes that it rears and fosters. But the script runs out of ammunition, the odd dazzling dialogue fizzles out and nothing is left to sustain the viewer’s interest in the boy and the girl. It gets way too overblown and loud, plays on familiar stereotypes of mata ka jagraata-loving, loud Punjabis and violence prone Gujjars, as it hurtles towards a needlessly complicated, predictable climax. There’s even a pointless, tasteless joke on honour killings thrown in.

Shruti Haasan looks way too sophisticated and polished to be believable as the Punjabi kudi in Lucknow. The only bright spot is Rajkummar Rao who is at his sincerest, as usual—be it his silent love for Binni, a stolen moment in her company, the frustration of not being the successful tula rashi (libra, according to the Vedic horoscope) lover like Raj or Rahul or the humiliation of serving cold drinks at the wedding of his beloved.

I was also left wondering that with easy access to television and even the Internet, when a section, however small, of the contemporary small town youth is turning as aspirational as its metro counterpart, isn’t the rakhi-tying premise of Behen Hogi Teri a wee bit out of place and uncalled for? Is applying for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) still as big a craze as it used to be? Do fathers beat up their grown up sons in public as does Gattu's? Isn’t Behen Hogi Teri more a nostalgia trip for what was the norm a few decades ago than how things could be now?

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 1:46:30 PM |

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