Saturday, September 20, 2014


Royal Bore

Some questions Bollywood (or at least the producers of this film) needs to answer: if a young woman is supposed to be vivacious, must she be portrayed as demented? Must royalty always be depicted as a bunch of sourpuss types?  In fact, why must a fairytale Prince Charming be literally a prince, when privy purses were abolished in 1971? Why is bad behaviour considered so appealing and dignity something to be shot down? Will Kirron Kher ever stop playing the loud, crude Punjabi matron? Who the hell told Sonam Kapoor that it is cute to wear garish costumes? Or that getting drunk and dancing with the domestic help to a song that goes “Injun ki seeti pe maaro bum dole” is cool?

This Disney co-produced film is more The Princess Diaries than Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khubsoorat, which was a sweet comedy. It’s not even fair that the old film be dragged into this bubble-gummy mess. That one was about unreasonable discipline versus enjoyment of life; this Khubsoorat is commoner versus royalty silliness aimed at a twitty teen audience and  Pakistani actor Fawad Khan’s fan-following.

Mili Chakravarty (Sonam Kapoor) is a physiotherapist, who is hired to treat a wheelchair bound former royal (Aamir Raza Husain), the kind that still lives in an antique-littered palace with liveried staff bowing and scraping. The palace is controlled by Rani-sa (Ratna Pathak Shah), who, frankly, doesn’t do anything more terrible than expecting table manners and decorum in her home, but is supposed to be a bad person. The son Vikram Singh Rathore (Fawad Khan) strides around carrying files and doing “business” – presumably something to do with hospitality or real estate. He is also engaged to a girl from the same class and social status.

Mili is excessively casual, calls Vikram “Viku,” constantly bumps into things, sits with her feet up, dresses badly or inadequately or both, has a penchant for drinking copious amounts of alcohol and having video chats with her mother (Kher) whom she calls by her name, Manju, and addresses as “tu.”  (The names are from from Hrishida’s films.)  The Rani is not so impressed by Mili, but everyone else, including Vikram and his kid sister are charmed. (In maybe the only funny line in the film Mili asks him if he became like that after being kissed or was he always a frog.)

Except for Fawad Khan who looks nonplussed at all times (which he probably was), not one over-acting performer seems to have asked the director just what they were doing and why; if Sonam Kapoor had asked, perhaps she would have toned down her irritatingly loud character, and Kirron Kher would have turned down the role.


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