Friday, April 20, 2012

Vicky Donor 

Spunky Tales

Vicky Arora is an ordinary Delhi boy of no special accomplishments. He lives in a refugee colony with his mother, who runs a beauty parlour, and grandmother who, according to him, is the only other modern thing in Delhi after the metro.

It’s a charming and sharply observed picture of middle-class Delhi life, but this sort of thing has been done much too often in recent Hindi films-- Shoojit Sircar’s Delhi is quite like Dibakar Banerjee’s Delhi—of noisy, quirky, friendly  people.   What makes Vicky Donor different is its subject—sperm donation. There are moral and social issues involved here—if not legal or medical—so by treating the subject so lightly, Sircar and the writer, Juhi Chaturvedi,  make it look as if it is a lucrative career for young men, or, “social service.”

If that hurdle can be crossed without a certain degree of squeamishness, then Vicky Donor is not bad at, and making all the difference are the performances by Annu Kapoor as Dr Chaddha, an infertility specialist, Dolly Ahluwalia as Vicky’s mother and Kamlesh Gill as his grandmother.

Vicky played by the dimpled Ayushmann Khurrana spends a large part of the film, trying to get the persistent Dr Chaddha off his back. But once he agrees to become a sperm donor,  there’s not much to go on.  There has to be a love story there, so Bengali girl Ashima (Yami Gautam—okay), who works in a bank is the one that turns Vicky’s head, over the rather aggressive pursuit by his neighbour.

The protests by his loud Punjabi clan and her sedate Bengali family are quickly conquered and the very trite conflict in the story comes in when Ashima cannot bear a child.  Without going into spoilers, the film ends on a gooey-eyed kind of note.

A film that starts with a bold idea also needs to take it to a point where the audience is made to think about it, or it remains at the level of a gimmick.  The light moments in the film, especially when Annu Kapoor is on screen are enjoyable, but the emotional bits come off spurious,  a weak notion of punishment for a character who gets too much when he doesn’t deserve it. 

Still, at least a subject like this can be done with humour; on the other hand, can surrogate motherhood be given the same flippant treatment? Maybe something more than just tossing an idea was expected. 

The acting is uniformly good, even by those playing small parts—like Vicky’s uncle, and Ashima’s father and aunt.  The dialogue is salty and the music unobtrusive.  It was gutsy of John Abraham to produce this film, and not be tempted to cast himself as a stud.  Ayushmann Khurrana plays the part like a confused young man who is not quite sure of what he has gotten himself into; had he been made to swagger about, like superman, the tone of the film would have been quite different. However, the advocates of adoption should worry, bringing the subject of sperm donation out from dinghy clinics into the open, the film might just have taken the furtiveness out of it. 


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