It would have been a great climax (pun intended!) to a fabulous year. But we wonder why the end of this film was a tad hurried, as if the writers and directors had done with the point and message well before that? Well, in a way they had, but a superb and unhurried wrap-up (a la “Badhaai Ho”) would have made a great and maybe crucial difference.
Having said that, “Good Newwz” is indeed good news for all—starting with the audience, and moving on to the film’s entire team, led ably by newbie director Raj Mehta, the distributors and all the lucky exhibitors. A true-blue Christmas release, it ends 2019 on a high note similar to “Aaye Din Bahaar Ke” (1966), “Maine Pyar Kiya” (1989), “Welcome” and “Taare Zameen Par” (2007), “Ghajini” (2008), “3 Idiots” (2009), “Dhoom:3” (2013), “PK” (2014), “Dangal” (2016), “Tiger Zinda Hai” (2017) and “Simmba” (2018).
The story is clear to all those who have watched the trailer. Automobile salesman Varun (Akshay Kumar) and Deepu (Kareena Kapoor Khan) have been married for seven years, and have not been able to have a child despite their best efforts and planned maneuvers on Deepu’s “fertile days of the cycle.” Honey (Diljit Dosanjh), a performer from Chandigarh, and Monica (Kiara Advani) have a similar problem for five years, with Monica having had two miscarriages.
Both couples head to Mumbai IVF specialist Dr. Joshi (Adil Hussein)’s clinic that has delivered over 26,000 babies. Tests are done and the required procedures carried out. Before the determination of whether the women have conceived, the doctors and his doctor wife (Tisca Chopra) realize that their technician has made a major goof-up: Varun’s semen has been injected into Monica’s, and Honey’s into Deepu’s. How so? Simply because both couples are named Batra!
And then, of course, both women become pregnant!
This is a serious and sensitive subject and the writing, while maintaining the humor, needed to address it cautiously—and it does! The organic way in which the pre-climax (Monica’s delivery and what happens then) sees Honey not being around is beautifully conceived and executed. The rain sequence of Monica and Deepu is endearing, but sadly sends wrong signals to affording pregnant women about taking risks and eating unhygienic and water-based roadside food, especially during rains!
A kind of gimmick is also Honey buying a flat in expensive Mumbai in the same housing society as the other Batras: it is too convenient—but in the final analysis, this is a negligible trivial pursuit.
Lucid explanations of what is IVF, a query about why people prefer it to adoption (which social workers recommend for obvious reasons), showing the details of the IVF process and the crucial issue of a mother’s attachment to the new life thriving inside her body are juxtaposed with hilarious sequences like Varun liking the look of the doctor’s wife, Deepu having a nightmare of a kid looking like Honey that she has after a painful delivery, Varun being sent for the semen collection, and even the sequence where he takes Monica to the washroom in his house and waits outside.
The film maintains and promotes the use of science for couples who are not able to start a family by underplaying its own story—it points out that goof-ups are so negligible and due to unpredictable unfortunate circumstances that even the doctors may not be liable for blame. The final confrontation between Deepu and Varun on whether or not to abort a child whose parent technically is a loud and uncouth Sikh is brilliantly done.
The film’s consistent note of humor, with a bit of needed satire, and the whole ambience with the crisp length of 133 minutes makes it a perfect family entertainer despite the obviously passion- or humor-filled lines that are rather bold for conservative Indian audiences, but not unpalatably so. In these days when we can accept a “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” and “Badhaai Ho,” this is a big step forward. Please note how Indian audiences are acing up the acceptance quotient for hitherto “forbidden” subjects, as these films have had successively done better numbers. My assessment of this film is around the 200 crore mark in India, little less maybe, and hopefully a little more.
The music is a sore point with almost all songs being entirely or majorly in Punjabi. Worse, they are like intrusions and just end up adding to the running time. Among them, “Chandigarh Mein” (in the end-credits) and the reworked “Sauda Khara Khara” still make a mark within the film. Happily, music no longer matters in today’s films!
Though Kiara Advani has nothing much to do (she is good in parts in the first more-comic half and in the second serious part), she is charming enough. But the film belongs to, in that order, Akshay, Kareena and Diljit. To start from below, Diljit is skilled at bringing in his (Sikh) community’s well-known quirks while showing the golden heart within. Some scenes look very done-to-death (only) in terms of his acting, but overall, he is good.
Kareena Kapoor Khan, looking as fresh as ever, radiates the needed intensity both in light and dramatic scenes—in the latter, she comes into her own, and her eyes emote powerfully. Akshay Kumar cocks a snook yet again at the “workshop”/method school of actors by getting effortlessly into the skin of an irritable, mercurial, often cynical and yet fond-of-his-wife-to-any-extent Varun. His weeping and hysterical laughter sequences are awesome for someone falsely considered a merely average actor. As Varun, an ordinary executive so different from all his recent outings, he is stupendous.
The film is a must-watch for its eventual powerful messages. But if you are looking for a perfect entertainer for this or any season, don’t miss it. In short, it is a winner every way.
Produced by: Hiroo Yash Johar, Karan Johar, Aruna Bhatia, Apoorva Mehta &
Directed by: Raj Mehta
Written by: Jyoti Kapoor, Raj Mehta & Rishabh Sharma
Music: Tanishk Bagchi, Lijo George, DJ Chetas, Badshah, Manj Musik-Hervie Sahara, Rochal Kohli, Lauv & Sukhbir
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh, Kiara Advani, Adil Hussain, Tisca Chopra, Anjana Sukhani & others