Reviews

Khoobsurat: A bumbling beauty

A poster of Khoobsurat   | Photo Credit: 20dmc Khoobsurat

In a scene in this ambitious reworking of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khubsoorat, a snooty matriarch of a royal family tells a middle class couple to hold a showpiece properly as it is an antique piece. Perhaps nobody gave this piece of advice to director Shashanka Ghosh before fiddling with Mukherjee’s vintage piece. It is admirable that Ghosh doesn’t become a prisoner of the past but it leaves you with a feeling that as we are progressing our façade is becoming more beautiful at the expense of our core.

If Mukherjee’s film despite being firmly rooted in Indian middle class milieu was ahead of its time in giving voice to female characters and tackled complex issues like the value of freedom in a conservative space without making a spectacle of it, this one works well within the confines of the Disney template of romantic comedy. It highlights universal themes like the ability to be yourself and the timeless battle between restraint and spontaneity comes through good looking people in glossy settings providing an interplay of generic emotional upheavals and goofy moments.

Mukherjee’s vivacious Manju gives way to a chirpy physiotherapist Milli (Sonam Kapoor) who is roped in to cure a wheel-chair bound patriarch (Aamir Raza Hussain as the new age Ashok Kumar) of a royal family but ends up treating his rigid funny bone and along the way finds Vikram, her prince charming (Fawad Khan). Dripping with extravagance, it lacks the warmth of the improvised dinner table poetry of the original where Rekha with her braids was far more effective than Sonam, whose nail paint changes within a scene but her voice doesn’t modulate accordingly. Like its central character, the film remains a bumbling beauty that appeals only in parts.

To make it cool and contemporary the producers have shown the earnestness by putting Ghosh and Sneha Khanwalkar in charge of direction and music respectively. While Sneha (of Gangs of Wasseypur fame) manages to maintain her reputation by composing quirky tunes, Ghosh, who has Waisa Bhi Hota Hai and Quickgun Murugun to his credit doesn’t opt for a detour, plays with the age old tropes of class and regional stereotypes and comes up with his whacky flourishes only in the second half when he tackles the scenes of introspection between two people falling in love despite obvious differences. When Milli and Vikram begin to laugh at themselves and Ghosh scratches beneath the fluffy exterior, the film finds its voice. They say acting is about give and take. Sonam’s performance improves the moment Fawad comes into the frame. Till then she is annoyingly screechy as she overdoes the free spirited part.

As the brooding prince who has no time for love, Fawad is a picture of grace and as the narrative unravels he shows his range. That there is more to him than just an irresistible jaw line. In fact at one point Sonam is in danger of losing the title to the new Khan!

In a tribute to Mukherjee’s film, Ghosh has named Milli’s mother as Manju, the central character of Mukherjee’s film and ensures that people get to know this link by making Milli address her mother by her first name. It sounds more forced than funny. And the rigid Nirmala played by Dina Pathak in the original is replaced by Ratna Pathak Shah. As the snobbish matriarch of the palace, who doesn’t approve of the loud gestures of Milli, Shah just has to repeat her Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai act and she does it with unmistakable flair. But it is Kiron Kher, repeating herself as the stereotypical Punjabi mother, who salvages the sagging screenplay by injecting freshness to the proceedings with her effortless delivery of Juhi Chaturvedi’s punchlines. She brings the house down when she questions the royalty’s fondness to address itself as ‘we’. Once again it is Manju who saves the day!

KHOOBSURAT

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Director:Shashanka Ghosh

Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Fawad Khan, Ratna Shah Pathak, Kirron Kher, Aamir Raza Hussain

Bottomline: If you fancy fluff this one is designed for you!

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 5:38:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/khoobsurat-a-bumbling-beauty/article6426878.ece

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