Rom-com is a much maligned genre in Hindi cinema. Mainly cause of the fact that 99 percent of films we make are love stories. So to carve out a niche of a romantic comedy ( an alien concept borrowed heavily from Hollywood) is a tough task. I mean how does one differentiate it from the same thing? Right?
Wrong. Thanks to the Chopras and Johars of the world, we have a new genre that encompasses everything that dreamy Bollywood stands for and merges it with the new age (read imported) sensibilities of love and its myraiud definitions in the new age. The New Age Rom-com is alive and kicking, with Hasee toh Phasee being the latest jewel in its nascent crown.
A big fat Indian wedding as a backdrop, Gujju Punjabi families clashing, a confused groom and a conveniently forgiving second lead, Hasee Toh Phasee has all the trademark clichés that define love story on the big screen these days, at least the ones from the Johar stable. What is added into the mix is a small touch of relatable reality from the Phantom house that miraculously comes together to bring out this delightful film. HTP is a refreshingly new take on the same old boy meets girl but is already hitched so is confused story, especially, but not only, because of the palpable chemistry between the lead pairs. Director Vinil Mathew’s debut venture , though not thoroughly convincing, is delightful and heart-warming. In the same breath it also breaks many stereotypes of equations in a relationship, in its own way silently taking forward the work done by films like Shudh Desi Romance and Ishaqzaade.
There is a distinct role reversal that characterizes these new age rom- coms. Take Nikhil (Siddharth from SOTY) for example. He is lost metaphorically in life; in a relationship fro 7 years with a girl who doesn’t value him, confused about what he wants to do in life and career. When handed the charge of keeping his Bride’s run away sister Meeta ( Parineeti ) hidden from the family, he discovers that Meeta and not his fiancé is who he wants to grow old with, yet decides not to act on his instincts cause “ it is not the right thing to do”. In one shot, Nikhil is Dil Toh Pagal Hai’s Pooja, DDLJ’s Simran rolled into one. Yes, he still rates girls at weddings on a scale of 1-10 and finds it very easy to break into a Shammi tribute (cringeworthy), but make no mistake, the Hero has changed and has found a new, sensitive face to him.
Contrasting this is Meeta ( Parineeti in yet another brilliant outing). Meeta is a geek, is a scientist, is sure of what she wants, and who she wants. Is not beyond stealing and running away from home, no not to go on that trip Daddy wont let her go to, but for her research. She is assertive, frank and does not think twice before telling the guy her elder sister is about to marry days after to give it all up and marry her. Meeta is all that our Lover boy Hero always was. And while she does all this, she also manages to slip into a ghaagra and add Bhangra to Boogie Woogie.
Typical to the genre, there are many hurdles to finding true love. True to the new age mantra, the hurdles are all internal, what with cooperating parents who do not mind saying “jaa jee le apni zindagi” to their confused kids. There is a sub plot of a Chinese lender who wants his money back, stealing, hacking, anti-depressant addiction and Nikhil needing to set up his mad cap cricket venture too, but most of it highly unconvincing and half baked. These do not matter much though cause the film has a lot of other things going for it, the lead pair that keeps you hooked, and some original quirky screenplay.
Director Vinil decides to shun the typical KJo school of melodrama and replaces it with quirky witty scenes and dialogues that bring out the lovers torment lightly yet leave a lasting impact. There are some clever dialogues, simple, conversational, at times heavy, yet delivered sincerely enough to get your heart in your throat. The film does go around in circles towards the really overdue climax and could have done with some crisper editing, but a lot of that is offset by some wedding shoo shaa albeit with “thanda” songs.
Siddharth as the confused emotional guy in love is endearing from the word go. In his second outing, he is decent in his acting chops as well, making it very easy to root for his Nikhil and feel his sincerity. He looks smart, dances pretty ok, and looks sincerely dreamy enough on cue. Parineeti on the other hand is the scene stealer. She is crazy poker faced joker sometimes, and serious sincere at others, and delivers yet another performance to die for. Consistently over her four films, she has been redefining the quintessential Bollywood Heroine taking it upon herself to change the way makers portray the heroine in our films. With each film she is pushing the boundaries, and coming out smelling roses with her performances. This one is no different. She is the strongest reason why HTP works and is a delight to watch.
So whether you belong to the candy floss Johar camp or the intellectual Kashyap clan, HTP has a little for either of your sensibilities. Catch this one on the big screen, it is worth the time.