Written by Manisha Lakhe
Not Good Company At All
Planned Indian weddings involve giving the contract out for everything from catering to decoration to the wedding band. But with young people falling in love, parents give a contract out to secure the bride and get rid of any existing boyfriends. Business is good until the ‘contractor’ falls in love… This movie could have been darkly comedic. Alas, it drowns in its supposed ‘sense of humor’.
So in old town Lucknow, there is an old man who extols the virtues of a planned Indian wedding to a camera crew. He says business has been slow or he would supplies everything for a wedding, from food for 4000 guests to decoration and even the horse the groom rides. He also reviles the concept of ‘love marriage’ where, he says, ‘Kharcha sirf mala khareedne ka hota hai’ (expenses are only on flower garlands the newlyweds exchange).
He sits at home now drinking whiskey and counting the money his grandson Imaan Singh aka Immu makes. But his grandson now has extended the business by taking money for protecting the wedding. He kidnaps lovers and ensures bride gets married to selected groom…
His ragtag team consists of a chap called Jackson who sings in the wedding band, a chap who owns a hair salon (where the kidnapped boys are kept), and a crossdressing lad who intimidates. Immu is the muscle as well as the brains of this protecting racket.
There are a couple of episodes where Immu’s group separates lovers who are planning to run away from the railway station, and one where the groom is so reluctant to marry a girl who supposedly has a boyfriend (he says he’s checked on her Facebook page) that he smokes himself silly on wedding night and bawls like a baby through the ceremonies after he is caught.
The first couple planning an escape have the funniest dialog in the film. The girl shows a couple of packets of an anti-roach chalk called Laxman Rekha (you are supposed to draw a line around the drain, the pesticide in the chalk does not allow the roaches to ‘cross the line’) and says, ‘If you don’t come to the station in the morning, I swear I will cross the Laxman Rekha’. This is an elaborate pun on Laxman Rekha drawn for Sita in the mythological story of Ramayana. It’s funny but not too many people get the reference.
Nothing else is funny. The lead actor needs to attend drama school or at least move facial muscles to speak and emote. The heroine Sandeepa Dhar, her friend Anurita Jha and others try hard, but the story has derailed from a dark comedy to just another love story. Even the added Qawali seems forced and added because they could. The Hindu-Muslim tension seems so fake where people with guns gets pushed back by people with sticks…
The young director has made two very interesting films before this. Youngistan was a rather radical idea, where a young lad becomes the Prime Minister and fights to change the system. The other film Laal Rang was a brilliant take on blood smuggling that is supposed to be rampant in the hinterlands. So this attempt at a dark comedy is a big disappointment.
(the review appears on nowrunning dot com)