Monday, August 27, 2012

NEW: Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi has moments of brilliance in lots of mush

Synopsis: Farhad Pastakia (Boman Irani) is 45 years old, single and working as a bra and panty salesman. Everybody’s pestering him about getting married, and Farhad just wants to be left alone, to realize his dream of owning his own underwear store and to fall in love when he wants. Shirin Fuggawala (Farah Khan, in her acting debut) is much the same, middle-aged, pestered about her love life, and working for the Parsi Trust. And the two hit it off — Farhad’s head over heels before Shirin has much of a chance to say anything. You’d think everyone would be happy to see the middle-aged pair finding love, but it turns out Shirin and Farhad’s mom have been remotely battling for months over a water tank. And mummy’s not about to let her boy marry her dushman (“Yeh shaadi nahin ho sakti, nahin ho sakti, nahin ho sakti!" is her motto).
In a way, the premise of Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi (I had fun saying that to the white girl at the ticket counter, by the way) is great: “Love has no expiry date.” Bollywood could use something more than the 30- to 40-something man romancing an 18 to 20-something woman. (Although, why does Farhad have to be 45 instead of 52 — how old Boman Irani actually is? And why is an excuse provided for why Shirin hasn’t married yet, but one isn’t for Farhad other than “haven’t found the right girl”?)

And when it sticks to age jokes and quaint romancing, the movie is great. There’s a great song in which Shirin and Farhad parody Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! and DDLJ, and all of the promo materials do the same. (Promo below has parts of the picturization.)

And then of course Boman Irani, genius actor that he is, is able to bring through Farhad’s  moments of struggle and frustration brilliantly. Not to mention being incredibly hilarious and endearing.

But otherwise, the film is a great big pile of mush.

Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi is mostly unable to escape Farah Khan’s poor acting. She’s just about every combination of bad acting you can imagine: cheesy, bland, slow, monotonous, overkill. The movie kind of jokingly tries to give her the typical glamor-diva scenes a Bollywood heroine gets, and she can’t even nail those — I’d have thought every woman knows how to work the glam seduction. (Also, I’d fall over dead if Farah Khan was actually a 36B like the movie claims. There’s no way.)

Terrible on the left, fabulous on the right.
And given how smooth and versatile Boman Irani is, Farah just looks that much worse.

I actually was really disappointed because I’ve always been a fan of Farah’s choreography and I even liked that supposed directing flop of hers, Tees Maar Khan. But really, she should stick to choreography and directing and producing.

Although on the subject of choreography, for a choreographer, Farah is also kind of an awful dancer. I would attribute it to middle age (ahem) were she not a choreographer. It’s really almost as painful as her acting at times.

And it’s not like she wasn’t given some decent acting material to work with — Shirin is a multifaceted character and wonderfully bossy. She just can’t work with it.

Ah, Farah. If only you could've done something with this sass.
Take lessons from the man who somehow makes this not creepy.
Overall though, the film doesn’t sustain its pockets of good material either. Like I said, aside from the age moments and quaint middle-age romancing, it’s all over the place. Fart jokes (a couple funny, a couple just dumb). Family craziness (and family crazies). Weddings. A couple of instances of Shirin and Farhad breaking and making up.

There’s also this kind of oddness about the film’s setting that bothered me. Everyone is quick to protect being Parsi, but everything about the movie screams Westernized, from the decorations of the family’s flat to the clothing (desi clothes come out pretty much at weddings and that’s all). The family is not so well off that Farhad doesn’t have to work, but folks wear designer glasses and carry fancy handbags. Shirin is obviously better off than Farhad (that in itself is something for any film), but this is somehow a film of designer glasses and lattes and so on all around.

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