Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan Movie Review: Well-meaning, but tries too hard

With a little more saavdhani on the makers’ part, this could have been a film that truly spoke to the heart.

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan: A riot that needed speed bumps along the way
Image Source: Google

Director: Hitesh Kewalya

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Jitendra Kumar, Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta, Maanvi Gagroo, Manu Rishi, Sunita Rajwar

From risking a Bollywood debut by taking on the role of a sperm donor (Vicky Donor, 2012) to playing a scientist (Hawaaizada, 2015) and having it fall flat at the box office to resurrecting a fading career by daring to play second fiddle to Bhumi Pednekar’s overweight-in-love-yet-ambitious-woman show stealing act in her debut (Dum Laga Ke Haisha, 2015), to playing a brooding, sentimental writer going rogue to win the love of his life (Bareilly ki Barfi, 2017) and then shocking us all by playing a freshly engaged man suffering from erectile dysfunction later that year (Shubh Mangal Saavdhan), Ayushmann Khurrana is not merely your boy-next-door or the everyman you inadvertently miss in the elevator on the way to your office. Just when you sit back comfortably slotting the man and the actor in a Bollywoodish tried-and-tested stereotype, Khurrana grabs your attention by the horns by starring in a neo noir cinematic feast titled Andhadhun (2018).

So when Khurrana hit the big screens last week with co-actor Jitendra Kumar (of TVF fame) as his love interest in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (the ‘Zyada’ is where the secret lies), the audience, deep down, knew what they were going to be served. It was his home turf – playing the genial, passionate love with aplomb.

Except, it did not seem to hit the right notes this time around. At least for me.

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (SMZS, hereafter) in short, is about two gay men, confronted with the excruciatingly laborious task of convincing one of their families in small town Allahabad to accept their ‘unnatural’ relationship.

Aman Tripathi (Jitendra Kumar) and Kartik Singh (Ayushmann Khurrana) are salesmen who meet in Delhi and seem to be quietly enjoying a passionate relationship in their little bubble, away from prying eyes and nosy neighbourhood side-eyes. The smooth trajectory of their bond, however, comes to a screeching halt when they are faced with the tenacious regressiveness of the Indian mentality.

Coming out to a family that had presumptuously chosen a nauseatingly saccharine heterosexual bahu for their only son, Aman is met with only mountains to conquer. No faith to move it by even an inch. Given the dilemma of working out the debt of his father’s sperm over an entire lifetime by doing the latter’s bidding, we see a simmering intensity brewing underneath Aman’s rather uptight, socially conscious persona. He is clearly torn between love and duty.

Kartik, on the other hand, is the unabashed, fervent lover who may well have been called I-put-my-foot-in-mouth-Singh. Be it getting his PDA game on in the most perilous of public spaces or standing head-to-head in combat with his lover’s sanskaari dad – he knows a thing or two about stirring trouble.

Together, Kartik is the fire to Aman’s meek, shifty winds.

And their love story could have been portrayed as a love story like no other, had director Hitesh Kewalya toned down on the theatrics. From the opening scene where the two are found dramatically chasing a moving train, we get a hint of how over-the-top the movie is to be in the next couple of hours. Aman’s conversation with dad Shankar Tripathi (Gajraj Rao) and mom Sunaina Tripathi (Neena Gupta) could well look to you like it’s been stolen from one of their many TVF conversations – so no surprises there. You are bound to enjoy their verbal exchanges, but truth be told, it is cut from the same cloth as have so many similar small town parent-child dynamics in earlier movies.

There are a motley of characters thrown in to highlight dormant undercurrents within the family  – uncle Chaman Tripathi (Manu Rishi), aunt Champa Tripathi (Sunita Rajwar) and cousin Rajni Tripathi (fondly called Goggle, played by Maanvi Gagroo) form the other half of the crazies making up the Tripathi clan. They each have their own troubles and injustices brandished like a sword on their chest, each time they butt heads with the seniors in the family. And what better than a dubious wedding to draw out past resentment between the stakeholders, look deep enough to even out power imbalances in the household and redefine the meaning of love and life?

Herein lies the strength of the film. As well as its weakness.

Director Hitesh (who is also the writer of the movie) must duly be credited for according side characters their respective and rightful place in the film – no more is this characterised than by the fact that none of his supporting cast looks like a mere aberration in the plot, they are all integral to the story. That said, often times there is just too much talking happening in the film, too many preachy, bombastic dialogues exchanged, too much of an emphasis on sending out a message to the society. For a film as sensitive as this, SMZS would have done better to instead focus on the characters living their lives and trying to deal with its curveballs the best they could, than acting in a certain way to prove anything to the society.

In that sense, the immersiveness of the story and its characters is what is missing here. They do not just be and allow you to draw from their experiences. And so, even though the film has its heart in the right place, you come away not feeling much at all.

I was also disappointed with how the director chose to only focus on the family and their interpersonal equations without taking into context the beauty and history Allahabad as a city offers. The laser focus centred on the characters and that one house makes the film claustrophic at many points.

Gajraj Rao is sufficiently interesting and will certainly tickle your funny bone. It is, however, Neena Gupta as his wife who matches (and even tops) his frazzled, all-knowing, wacky scientist demeanour with some of the most memorable punchlines uttered in the film. Her scenes with Rao and Rajwar are some of the most entertaining ones in the movie, and fortunately or fortunately, bound to linger on in your mind longer than the leads’ acting might.

Between the leads, it is Jitendra’s nuanced, tempered performance that is likely to win you over rather than Khurrana’s overzealous, lover boy act. In fact, the latter’s costumes and that oh-so-sexy-nose ring stand out more in your mind than does the overall performance. I dare say Khurrana may just have played the tritest role in his career.

Then there are irrelevant plot lines involving kaali gobhi (black cauliflower) and vague farmer’s protests woven into the story, the absence of which could have easily reduced the run time of the film by a precious few minutes. Not to mention, Bhumi Pednekar’s extremely immaterial special appearance.

However, not all is wasted in the film. The music is in fact one of the better elements of the movie. With 3 of 7 songs proving to be chartbuster hits within days of their release – Ooh la la, Pyaar Tenu Karda Gabru and Mere Liye Tum Kaafi Ho – you get your money’s worth tapping to the high voltage drama weaved into these songs.

Despite the cinematic glitches and sub-par portrayal of the subject, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan tackles an extremely sensitive and controversial issue – gay love – that continues to raise eyebrows despite the highest court of law in the land decriminalizing homosexuality. To that end, and that alone, the movie is a must-watch for families across the length and breadth of the country. As long as they can come out of the theater being able to accept different choices – and different kinds of love – whether they wholeheartedly agree with/understand it or not – the movie will have its done job well.

P.S. Special mention for the grace with which the kissing scenes between the leads were handled. If that is not brave, then I don’t know what is!

Rating: 2.5/5

Article 15 Movie Review: Powerfully made, it is a mirror designed to shake you up from your stupor

Article 15 is powerful cinema, emblematic of our times and a must-watch for all sections of the society

Director: Anubhav Sinha

Cast: Ayushmann Khurana, Isha Talwar, Manoj Pahwa, Kumud Mishra

Article 15 is a reminder that the Constitution of India is still alive
Image Source: Google

Article 15 (Part III, Indian Constitution): “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.”

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Anubhav Sinha (the director of last year’s critically acclaimed Mulk) wastes no time in diving into the heart of Article 15. He leads the audience straight into the heartlands of a sleepy village in rural India, where a folk song sung in high-pitched gusto and piercing the pitter-patter of the rain outside, rings out, cutting through the baneful existence of the small bunch huddled together. As the group claps in unison and rhythmically moves their bodies to every intonation launched against the powerful, privileged upper castes, you are immediately sucked into their world – a shadowed presence flung far away from mainstream civilization. Elsewhere, two hapless girls in bloodied, dishevelled states are seen resisting clawing hands, their screams muffled and lost inside the walls of a bus.

Content with startling your senses, the movie then jumps to a white ambassador snaking through highways and open fields, introducing to us the man who would soon find himself in the eye of the storm. Ayaan Ranjan (Ayushmann Khurana), a freshly trained IPS officer has been posted at Lalgaon in Uttar Pradesh, where the caste divide is stamped across every inch of the local’s lives. Ayaan – foreign-returned, privileged, woke yet blissfully unaware of the country’s ground realities – is only slightly amused and shrugs off the casteist implications – when a constable in his team attempts to desist him from buying water from a low-caste chap on the street. He keenly observes the undercurrents of the “local harmony”, still quite oblivious of the power hierarchy therein – as Brahmanand (Manoj Pahwa), a cop at the Lalgaon police quarters emphasizes on his last name, “Singh” while introducing himself. More eyebrows are raised when yet another cop Jatav (Kumud Mishra) urgently signals to the kitchen staff to serve food on a separate plate because, “aap hamari thali se nahin kha sakte kyunki aap unchi jaat ke hain.”

Article 15: Trailer
Source: YouTube

The initial light-hearted banter and sheepish talk around the caste pyramid, however, gives way to horrified silences when word gets out about the gruesome sight of two Dalit girls hanging from a tree. A third girl is missing, Ayaan is soon informed by Gaura (Sayani Gupta), a relative, and one among the Dalits heading the chorus at the start of the movie. The woke, Europe-returned liberal man is shook, and so are we. Though the makers of Article 15 resolutely maintain that the movie is “inspired by real events”, we all know too well the glaring similarities of the plot with that of 2014 Badaun case where two minors were gang-raped and murdered, but their perpetrators walked out free after an investigation by the CBI revealed no evidence supporting the allegations.

Nevertheless, unlike the continued mystery of the Badaun incident, a sense of urgency pervades the air in Article 15 and the world constructed within the film, as the quest to find the culprits and the missing girl navigates the treacherous nuances of caste, religion, political influence and more, picking up a rather nationalist vibe. This is no regular investigation, for Ayaan, this is a tightrope walk between a corrupt system entrusted with upholding the values enshrined in the Constitution but wantonly reluctant to commit to the same, his own personal idealism about the land he calls his own and practical exigencies in tackling caste and social injustice where a section of the population are barely counted as human beings, let alone citizens in their own right.

Ayushmann as Ayaan deftly balances his decorous position as a government servant confined by due process along with an intensely rebellious approach to the investigation at hand, frequently snubbing the “law” of the hinterlands and the occasional foreboding warning to “stay out of this mess.” He is sharp, alert and quick enough to see through the façade of a crooked justice system, in the process earning the scorn of the ruthless, cunning upper caste perpetrators and an undeserved suspension. Khurana, in probably his first serious role in years, slips effortlessly into the shoes of a free-thinking man quickly disillusioned by the dirt and filth residing in the dingiest corners of one of the country’s building pillars.

As Ayaan, Ayushmann plays a mixed bag of emotions – from anger and derision to restraint and compassion, albeit, with a touch of social activism – which – given the film’s context is inevitable. His cluelessness regarding the intricacies and sub-sub-categories of the caste ladder compels the viewer to grapple with an untold, unseen side of India, leading them to wonder out aloud, “What the fuck is going on here?” much like Ayaan screams out in rage in one scene, exasperated with layers he never knew could be a part of the country he thought was so highly spoken of around the globe.

Among the supporting cast, Sayani Gupta as Gaura is powerfully defiant yet devastated, in a brief role. Gupta, who is fast climbing up the ranks to become a diverse actor with meaty roles across a slew of genres, does more with her watchful, indignant eyes than mouthful of dialogues could possibly do. Her scenes with Nishad (Zeeshan Ayyub), the leader of the rebel Dalit gang, are particularly heart-wrenching to watch – in that they throw us off our cushioned, privileged lives for a few moments – deeply unsettling us.

Manoj Pahwa (as upper caste Brahmanand) and Kumud Mishra as low-caste (but higher than the Pasis in the pecking order) Jatav dazzle with their nuanced, electrifying performances (I dare say they at times outshine even our main man Ayushmann). There is a fear of authority (both legally and socially determined) as the two attempt to circumvent the revolutionary IPS-in-charge’s scant regard for untimely transfers and a possible dent on his career. Likewise, there is a mounting tension among the junior officers as well – as they teeter on the edge of losing their jobs and lives even – conspiratorially shushing their fears, courtesy the powers that be. Fear drips nakedly as Ayaan darts around hunting for clues, and is gently reminded of the “santulan” (balance) inherent in the locality and how he would do well to not tamper with it. There is danger lurking as rogue agents ghoulishly follow the investigation, while attempting to mask and annihilate evidence, furnishing manipulated accounts to the press and commit a dastardly crime and more.

The unspeakable terror and the pallid tones permeating life in Lalgaon have been aptly captured by cinematographer Ewan Mulligan, rising stark and sinking deep in their blues and greys. A few shots – of the girls hanging limp from a lone mango tree, the police team ineffectively trying to lower the dead girls onto the ground without touching them, a decrepit abandoned hut with skin and blood spilling out on the ground and a traitorous swamp holding (possibly) a secret or two within – are few of the many flashes of brilliance that are bound to remain etched in your mind, long after you walk out of the theatre. It is a superbly crafted mystery whoddunit without temporary thrills.

My only grouse with the storyline is the excessiveness of cross-plotting: there are simply too many wrongs to be fixed in the space of two and a half hours. Naturally, not all of the evils get adequately addressed; these parallel and often interwoven plot points, however, serve as grim reminds of the current socio-political fabric of the nation. For instance, a local political leader uses the tragedy to mint Dalit votes, offering them pseudo olive branches in the hope of forming a “sangathan” – a united Hindu front to fight off “the enemies”. Adorning saffron clothes and a booming voice, he wears his religion on his sleeve, bearing an uncanny resemblance to a saffron-clad political authority under the present ruling party – while selling a pipe dream of equality.

Disappointing also is the manner in which Isha Talwar’s character Aditi is treated in the film. We are only told she is an impassioned writer, content in her world of blogs and articles and journalism – we know she and Ayaan do not always agree when it comes to ideology, and yet, her character is never explored, or utilized to provide credibility to the main context of the film. That in my opinion reduces her to an armchair activist.

At a time when religion has become a touch-point to determine nationalism, or lack thereof, Article 15 takes a magnifying glass and exposes the threads the caste system (under an increasingly dissatisfied and wary majority) is made of. It forces you to first look out into your own backyard and weed out the terrain so it stops choking your growth – as a human being – and as a responsible citizen.

Rating: 4/5

Andhadhun Review:Wacky and intriguing, this is the movie Bollywood needs right now

This Ayushmann and Tabu starrer will surely tickle your brain cells like few Bollywood noir thrillers have.

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Director: Sriram Raghavan

Cast: Ayushmann Khurana, Tabu, Radhika Apte

What are the odds of you playing Good Samaritan to a distressed neighbour on a regular day, and then getting toppled off of a high-rise building in broad day light? Also, without provocation?  “That’s bizarre,” you might say, with a nervous laugh, convinced this macabre thought may have been taken straight from the pages of a B-grade thriller novel. But what if you were an ill-fated spectator who happened to catch the murderer in the act and they looked you in the eye instead of fleeing the scene? “Some nerve,” you might gasp!

It is this defiance that underscores most of the character sketches in Sriram Raghavan’s universe, the man famed for filming cult thrillers in the past like Johnny Gaddaar (2007) and in recent times, Badlapur (2015). Raghavan’s penchant for making plot twists work without relying on whodunit trails and snaking his way in through the seemingly obvious, is what makes his movies stand out as classic masterpieces. Andhadhun, a neo-noir thriller duly inspired by a 2010 French short film L’accordeur (The Piano Tuner), is visibly cut from the same cloth. At the heart of the story is a blind pianist (Ayushmann Khurana as Akash) whose life takes a turn for the worse when he becomes privy to a murder and goes on to report a crime he never actually witnessed.

At the outset, it would not be remiss to say that the mystery of whether Akash can actually see or not is solved in the first fifteen minutes of the runtime. And yet, even as the end credits roll, you find yourself still floundering for clues – Can he see or not? The director’s ability to take a relatively obvious element of the plot – Akash’s blindness – and play around with the idea of sight using deeper, darker undertones till it drives the audience to exasperating (yet chuckle-worthy) confusion, is remarkable.

But the idea of sight is not the only element the director toys with. If you aren’t the kind to dismiss opening and end credits (and you mustn’t be, if you’re watching this cinematic treat), you would find puns galore in the film. Right from the opening credits, which start with a seemingly out-of-place, “What is life? It depends on the liver”, a blind man singing ‘Naina Da Kya Kasoor‘, to the shrewdest of specifics in the end credits, the essence of the movie is neatly sandwiched between these points. You miss this, and you miss out on the whys and hows that effectively describe this zany ride.

Andha hone ke problems toh sabko pata hain, fayda main batata hun,” Akash draws us into his private world – one that’s dominated by a grand piano, and his relentless search for inspiration. The only other recurring distractions are a pesky neighbourhood kid frequently testing his patience (and the veracity of his handicap), and a pet cat named Rani. Enter Sophie (Radhika Apte), a refreshingly candid and earthy woman, who he meets literally “by accident”, before being profusely apologized to and offered a gig at her father’s diner. Amidst casual conversations and random scooter rides, the two wildly different personalities develop a bond which swiftly culminates in a passionate, albeit, short-lived affair.

But not before we are told that Akash wasn’t really born blind, but became so, after being struck by a cricket ball at the age of fourteen. This revelation serves to further amplify Sophie’s interest in the man – and ours – as the first layer of this flawless make-believe world is peeled away just a tad bit. Clearly, there’s more to this blind musician than meets the eye. This however, does nothing to create a dent in Sophie’s unmasked admiration for Akash, who keenly churns out mystifying originals of his own as well as classic masterpieces, day after day, to the wonderment of the guests at the diner.

On one such eventful evening, as he contentedly plays out a series of old melodies, his genius is picked up by a jovial, indulgent yesteryear actor Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan) who later invites him home for a private performance. But once Akash arrives at the actor’s apartment, all the happy coincidences of the recent past turn into a dramedy of unwelcome coincidences he cannot easily extricate himself from. As he then fumbles his way through a chain of staged realities, Akash, along with his fellow desperados, come to realize that no matter who invents the game, nobody truly knows all the rules. This jumble of twists and turns, flip-flops of loyalties, pretence and sheer audacity through it all makes up the core of Andhadhun, which justifies its likeness to the Hindi word (Andhadhund) meaning ‘indiscriminate’, or ‘slapdash’, more than it does to ‘blind melody’ – its literal meaning.

Ayushmann, the poster boy for entertaining, social dramas moves away from that predictable mold to enter the conflicting, experimental world of Andhadhun and succeeds in giving his own spin to it. Here too, glimpses of the boy next door remain; in fact, Akash’s inherent sensitivity and unassuming aura is what enthralls the audience on and off the screen. But these are merely sprinklings overlaying the character’s true motivation, which remains consistent throughout the movie, much like the heightened focus he so boasts of, at the very beginning.

Unlike a straight-laced Vicky Donor or a Shubh Mangal Savdhaan, Ayushmann’s character in this wily project seems more in control of his circumstances, despite the obvious tragedies, sometimes brought about by his own smug machinations. Khurana delivers a crackling, delicious performance, probably the best of his career so far – never truly letting his grip on Akash slacken, even as there were moments where it could’ve been laid threadbare for the viewer to catch on to. Besides the broader picture, the actor seems to have a grip on the minutest of details – from the practiced agility of a professional pianist, to the wary body language of a blind man, he hits it right out of the park every single time.

Matching his finesse is Tabu, as Simi (Pramod Sinha’s much-younger sexy wife) who knows a thing or two about making crab murder a little less unpalatable than it really is. By her own admission she has quite a big heart, given that she prefers lulling the crab to sleep in an ice bath before plopping them in boiling water so it doesn’t meet a shocked death.

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Tabu, who has previously played the femme fatale to perfection in Maqbool (2003) and Haider (2014) knows just the tropes to get the inevitably charming, yet insidious trappings of her character right. Fascinatingly dangerous, yet affable, she makes Simi worthy of your understanding, as you take turns sniggering at her dervish ways and pitying her, but never with outright disdain.

Together, Ayushmann and Tabu lend a fresh, intriguing touch to the neo-noir genre and give us some superlative moments in the film. In one of the principal scenes in the movie, the blind man is shown fervently playing high notes on the piano, proud of the applause coming his way, even as the camera shifts enough to focus on a minor detail on the fringe – there’s someone lying bedraggled on the floor. And they have broken glass and splattered wine (or is it blood?) to give them company. Even before you can put two and two together, the tempo of the music intensifies, as do the muted goings-on – painting a picture of such gruesome yet, amusing incongruity that it leaves you agape and breathless in anticipation for what’s waiting next. A winsome tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, this will forever stand out as a moment of unparalleled cinematic brilliance.

Andhadhun is an extremely intelligent film, in the sense that it dunks the obvious and refuses to play to the gallery. As is evident, the taut screenplay (by Pooja Ladha Surti, Raghavan, Arijit Biswas and others), an outstanding editing (by Surti) and phenomenal camerawork (by K.U.Mohanan) contribute greatly to the film. But this is also a project where the background score is pushed to the foreground, compelling the audience to take note of. This is one movie where music is used to drive the story forward, backwards and sideways and isn’t a mere garnish on the actual recipe. It is what makes the recipe. Borrowing heavily from childhood delights like the Tom and Jerry series, as well as a generous mix of the 70s mood (courtesy Dhawan starrers such as Honeymoon, Hawas and others), there are no suggestive background scores telling you what to think or how to react.

Despite some portions in the second half bordering on the contrived, the humor and the urgency never leaves the characters. Rather, a disquieting air of desperation pervades the participants (of this muddled adventure) and their circumstances in general. For instance, there is tough cop Manohar (Manav Vij) stuffing 16 eggs a day to manage his protein intake, but scrambling for breath in his wife’s (Ashwini Kalsekar) presence. A small-time lottery ticket seller (Chhaya Kadam), an auto-rickshaw driver and an unscrupulous doctor (Zakir Hussain) are the other crooks flipping between playing the devil and then the sidekick, just as conveniently and desperately as their motivations change. At one point, the audience is left second-guessing everything and everyone in the movie, even as the director challenging our wits mercilessly without ever truly giving us our “Aha!” moment.

Special credit to Radhika Apte for playing Sophie in the most natural, undecorated way possible for a Hindi film heroine – for acting as a lever to such an ambitious, heavyweight venture. She is feisty, and doesn’t mind baring her heart out. And so, if it means she’s got to spurn the “invisible tension” orchestrated by her hard-to-get musician lover in favour of having brighter, pimple-free skin, so be it. Sophie’s candor is not the only thing that draws us to her, she unintentionally soaks up the collective perplexity of the audience and throws it back at the events, and the man in her life, almost asking – Yeh chal kya raha hai? 

Andhadhun is wicked, riveting and mindbogglingly witty. This is not your regular mystery movie, to be enjoyed with a tub of popcorn and a racing heart. This is the kind that will torment your mind, long after you’ve watched it, making you ferret for answers where they may be none.

After all, in Sophie’s words, “Kuch cheezein adhoori hone ki wajah se hi toh poori hoti hain”.

 

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Badhaai Ho: First Look|Director Amit Sharma|19th Oct

When mum and dad become mummy and daddy at an age you’re supposed to be becoming those.

 

Starring: Ayushmann Khurana, Sanya Malhotra, Gajraj  Rao, Neena Gupta, Surekha Sikri, Sheeba Chaddha

This upcoming Indian dramedy (drama plus comedy, get it?) under the banner of Junglee Pictures (in association with Chrome Pictures) is what I call, “Kayion ne socha hoga, inhone kar diya.”

I mean, if you’re living on planet earth, and have ever been curious about when your parents may have “done the deed” so you took birth on the day, and in the month you eventually did (I definitely have), I am certain at least some of you might also have wondered out loud how it would be if your parents were to “pop out” a “chhota mehmaan” at a time you should be revving up your sex life up and ushering in some “good news”.

Sounds weird? Yeah, but you’re only saying that because you’ve probably played around these imaginative plot twists in your head, all by yourself, or while chortling over nasty, inappropriate jokes shared with your best friend when no one was looking (or listening).

Director Amit Ravindernath Sharma has however, decided, to make your wildest musings come true on the big screen and take you along a trail of what can happen when the roles are reversed and its the kids’ turn now to be weirded out by their parents’ antics in the most epic way possible: in short, how to children react to parents doing acts which are the equivalent of “issne toh naak kata di hamari”?

Written by Akshat Ghildial, Shantanu Srivastava and Jyoti Kapoor, Badhaai Ho has Gajraj Rao (of TVF fame) and Neena Gupta (who was last seen in Mulk) at the helm of the quirk factory it’s designed to be.

As is obvious from the brief glimpses in the trailer, Rao and Gupta are both phenomenal and blow your socks off, quite literally. Neena Gupta, who takes turns feeling coy, embarrassed, tired (she’s preggo, remember?) suitably complements Rao’s naïve, innocent yet discomfited act, akin to that of a mortified fifth-grader whose friends now know he still wets his bed during sleep.

Attempting to downsize their “out-of-control” craziness is the shocked, awkward, and understandably judgmental stance taken by the couple’s elder son, Nakul (Ayushmann Khurana) whose opinion on the matter can be summed up as, “Yaar tu hi bata na, yeh sab koi Mummy-Papa ki karne ki cheez hai?” blurted out during some hot making out with his girlfriend (Dangal star Sanya Malhotra). My guess is the sex never happens (wink wink).

The movie also boasts of a great supporting cast – Surekha Sikri (of Balika Vadhu fame, just as strict, but definitely a lot more disgusted) and Sheeba Chaddha (playing Nakul’s girlfriend’s mom) who are impeccable even in the little bit we see of them in the trailer, and are effectively the tadka in this khichdi. Like most other Ayushmann starrers, this movie too seems like it has a social message wrapped up in a cheery, entertaining package, and while the plot looks straightforward and predictable, I wouldn’t be surprised if this became a blockbuster, more dope than any of the smashing hits we’ve seen so far this year.

Borrowing a line from a character in the movie, I’d say – this family is a circus you should buy tickets to, this October.