Saturday, May 11, 2013


Tween Travails

If it’s a Karan Johar production, the setting has to be pretty and picturesque—Shimla if not Switzerland. And it is the most important thing in the world to be popular in class. A tween version of Student Of The Year, anyone?

There are many classic Ugly Ducking clichés, in Sonam Nair’s film, as Gippi (Riya Vij), a “fat ugly loser” in the words of the smart, thin, clever girl Shamira (Jayati Modi) finds her groove. The only good thing is that she does not turn into a swan, but learns to deal with her duckling-ness, with some help from friends. And Shamira is not the dumb bimbette, but the over-achiever who wakes at 5 am every morning and never eats ice-cream.

It is Hollywood summer teen flick, masalafied for the Indian urban teen, whose only concern is not grades, not the dreaded ‘boards’ but boys. The audience is also likely to comprise under-15 girls and cute wannabes.

 Gippi lives with her mother (Divya Dutta) and gay (Karan Johar film, don’t forget)  brother (Arbaz Kadwani) and goes to a school, where she hangs out with specimens even more pitiable than herself—the bespectacled nerds with bad teeth, and pig-tailed, no-style best friend (a very likeable Doorva Tripathi).  Gippi is not particularly scarred (though her door sticker proclaims Do Not Disturb: Already Disturbed)  by her mother’s obvious sorrow, her father’s impending marriage to a white woman, or bothered about her weight, poor academic record or general ineptitude.  But when the chain-smoking, older dreamboat Arjun (Taaha Shah) refuses to acknowledge her as his girlfriend at the hated Shamira’s party, Gippi’s dreamy world made up of ice cream and Shammi Kapoor songs, crashes.  (How many 14-year-old Shammi Kapoor fans can you find today?)

Now Gippi has to prove that she is not a loser and net a Prince Charming on the way...and does she?  This is a Hindi movie--is there another option?  Mildly amusing, trying very hard to be meaningful or real in some way (what’s all that about bras and sanitary pads!), and staying firmly in cheery Wonder Years territory, kids on summer break could do worse than giggle with Gippi.


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