sandwiched forever

A scene from “Sandwiched Forever.” (Publicity photo)

“Sandwiched Forever” falls in the realm of family comedies, all too rare in the Hindi entertainment space, and even more so in web series. In the TV circuit, we have had “Khichdi” and “Sarabhai Vs. Sarabhai,” both in the early millennium, and both classics, but nothing else in the last 21 years. Yes, “Bhakharwadi” tried to fill in the gaps with decent success.

This show fills the vacuum. A young “today” couple,  Sameer (Kunaal Roy Kapur) and Naina (Aahana Kumara) are married and want to stay by themselves, but Naina’s interfering army officer dad V.K. Sarnaik (Atul Kulkarni) and a hugely eccentric mom, Manjari (Lubna Salim), whose intelligence is way lower than her credulousness, will have none of it!

They get an estate agent to find an apartment right next to them so that the couple can be “alone” yet near. Sameer hails from Kanpur and when his parents, the botanist Dr. Giriraj Shastri (Zakir Hussain) and his divorce counsel wife, Sanyukta (Divya Seth Shah) come to know of this, they want to shift to Mumbai to be near to their only son too. Ergo, VK’s agent gives them an apartment on the other side of theirs.

And not only their apartment literally, but even Sameer and Naina are now figuratively and otherwise “sandwiched” between the old folk, and everything is interfered with—the choice of furniture, décor, honeymoon, the position of the ‘mandir” and a pooja, a maid, clothes for a family wedding, selecting a vehicle and more.

Happily, most of the situations and one-liners are quite funny, though very few come in the side-splitting, uproarious category. Each episode after the tone-setting first is standalone, and generous licenses are thus taken with the (changing per episode!) sets as the essence seemingly is to portray the six main characters: a working-from-home indolent foodie in Sameer, the badminton player of high merit Naina, the ever-snoopy army officer with a tendency for big talks and bluster, his super-dense wife involved in all kinds of spirituality, the lovable plant-loving botanist who has named each plant and talks to them as fellow humans, and his mercurial wife Sanyukta with over-the-top affection for her son.

And while Dr. Shastri is very affectionate towards his daughter-in-law, Sanyukta and VK often draw their respective children’s spouses into corners with sharply honed emotional blackmailing tactics!

If the initial episodes are good, it is the midstream(ing) stories that rank the highest— “Best Price,” “2+2 = Zero,” “Cat Fight,” “Suit V/S Sherwani,” “Khana Kharaab” and “Kamla Pe Hamla.” The high is cut short by “Car Bekar,” the third-last episode, but good redemption happens with “Ring Ring Ringa” and “Badhai Ho.”

Keeping the environs in mind, the script and direction includes a strong amount of contemporary naughtiness and spice, like with the “Kamasutra” couch in which you can make love in 245 positions, and can be bought online, and the mini-episodic structure within each story does not take away anything. The camerawork (Sukhvinder Singh) and art direction (Sukant Panigrahy & Asutosh Patnaik) are bright in keeping with the storyline’s needs and the editing (Ramvilas Yadav) is crisp. The music (Pankaj Awasthi) keeps the moods intact.

And while all the artistes who appear in individual episodes, such as Sameer’s colleague on his laptop, two priests, a delivery boy and so on) do very well, the six primary protagonists are brilliant. My highest marks would go to, in that order, Lubna Salim as the goofy Manjari and Zakir Hussain (a revelation in comedy) as the affectionate messiah of the plants. Atul Kulkarni as VK scores—very high—  in his comic character again, a super surprise, and so does the ever-reliable Kunaal Roy Kapur in yet another comic variation in his career as Sameer.

The lowest ranking goes to Aahana Kumar and veteran Divya Seth Shah—and they are both excellent. So you can understand the level of the other four!

This show is just right for the whole year, though it was released on Christmas Eve. Enjoy 15 fun episodes with your loved ones. SonyLIV has scored yet another winner.

Rating: ****

Produced by: Indraneel Chakraborty

Directed by: Rohan Sippy & Pankaj Sudheer Mishra

Written by: Hitesh Bali, Devang Kakkad, Bharat Kukreti, Pankaj Sudheer Mishra & Vikas Singh

Music: Pankaj Awasthi

Starring: Kunaal Roy Kapur, Aahana Kumara, Lubna Salim, Atul Kulkarni, Divya Seth Shah, Zakir Hussain & others

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