This is not a review. No, it isn’t. I hate critiquing a movie on public forum when its newly released. Firstly it influences the perception of people who haven’t watched the film and secondly (and more importantly) no movie can be judged properly till we have had 2-3 viewings of it.
So this is basically a film buff’s notes on this week’s new release Vicky Donor purely on the basis of one viewing, where a single screen audience and company of great friends added to the fun. (Honestly, more than half of the laughs don’t come from the jokes in the film, but from the audience’s reaction to it)
First things first. This film belongs to Annu Kapoor. Perhaps the most under-used and under-rated actor in Hindi Film Industry. His performances in Raincoat and Saat Khoon Maaf should have put a queue of offers in front of his door step. And if this film doesn’t, nothing else will. Be it the accent, the gait, the dressing style, Annu Kapoor not only makes the Punjabi Infertility Specialist doctor (Dr.Chaddha) come alive but also etches out one of the funniest doctors in Hindi Movies’ history.
Look out for the gesture he makes with his fingers to signal ‘sperms’. Whoever came up with that gesture for this character desrves a standing ovation. And the writer Juhi Chaturvedi made sure the mannerisms of doctor are well supported by some of the best innuendos you have come across in a long long time. Add to it the props the makers have put around to enhance the theme of the film. Accessory hanging from car’s rearview mirror, graphiti on shirts, show-pieces inside doctor’s clinic. It depends upon the viewers how much they are able to read between the lines actually. There’s one small one that I did. Take note of Dr. Chaddha opening most of the lines with the Punjabi word ‘hor’. “Hor ki gal hai.. Hor ek party aayi hai.. Hor ek baar kar le yaar”. Smart ones will get what I am exactly trying to pin point over here.
The next best thing in the film is ‘biji’ – Vicky’s grandmother, played by Kamlesh Gill. Now how many times in Hindi Cinema have you seen a septuagenarian reminiscing on old times every evening over a glass of vodka with her daughter-in-law in Indian Cinema. As the character of Vicky rightly puts it ” Dilli mein do hi cheez modern hai. Ek metro.. aur ek aap !” This biji is techno savvy, wiitier than the younger lot and ahead of her times when dealing with taboo subjects like widow & divorcee-remarriage and sperm donation.
Shoojit Sircar, the director, a Bengali himself, can’t avoid the temptation of taking a dig at Bengali people, their mannerisms & a highly misplaced sense of loyalty towards their culture. The Punjus versus Bongs chapter is one to look out for in the movie. What I really loved is that instead of casting well-known character actors from Bombay, who would play the role stereotypically faking a Bengali accent, the makers hired Bengali actors themselves to play the role. And when they conversed among themselves, they spoke in Bengali and not Banglacised Hindi, which was a welcome change from what we see in Hindi movies. If all the Delhi-based movies have made us well-versed with Punjabi lingo ( ‘siyaapa’, ‘gal’ and ‘dassso’ have become very much a part of lingua franca of the country) I think the same can hold true for other regional languages as well. Shabdon ko nahi to log bhaavnaon ko to samjhte hi hain ! Look out for the marriage sequence in the film. In a very subtle way the director has conveyed that no matter how different we are in our backgrounds, as Indians, we are inherently very tolerant and warm towards other cultures as well. Something which has bound us together for long.
Now we come to the leads -Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam. Having been a popular television face since long, Ayushman’s shift to movies was always on cards. He had rejected 3 roles earlier to play the lead in this one. Being a Punjabi himself, getting under the skin of the character was always expected, but what will pleasantly surprise the audience is the maturity with which he handles the tender moments in tha film. There’s a scene in the film where he returns home late in the night to find his mother sleeping on his bed. The usually loud Punjabi mother-son duo suddenly become nostalgic and start reminiscing over the times when Vicky’s father was alive. Its a very heart warming moment and rarely displayed brilliance in screenplay writing in today’s times. Ayushman capitalises on all such moments in the movie meted out to him by the screenwriter Juhi. The other lead Yami is really yummy and its difficult to believe she is not a bong in real life. Wish to see more of her in the future.
The post would be incomplete if I don’t mention Juhi Chaturvedi- the writer of the film. The movie really stands out because of the lines she wrote, characters she etched, situations she thought of. Apart from the ending, there’s not a single scene in the film which is predicatble. The moment you think the screenpaly is shifting towards a particular formula we are well aware of, she surprises you with a twist. The scene where the heroine’s Bong father reasons out with her over Vicky’s profession is one such moment in the film.
And last but not the least, special thanks to John Abraham for not casting himself in his debut production. He is an intelligent actor is a fact we were always aware of. No other actor would have gone for scripts like No Smoking and Kabul Express when at the peak of his stardom. The intelligence is well displayed over here by backing a script which brought to light a subject which is still a taboo in Indian Society and coming at the end for an item number flexing his well-sculpted physique- giving the junta a total Paisa Vasool !
But I would not end this post with a link to that item number. Instead I insist you listen to this song. A great composition by Ayushman himself ! Another Farhan Akhtar in the making ?
This might not end up as the one of the best filns of the year but is definitely a welcome change from the shit that is being churned out every Friday in the name of Cinema. Go with your friends. Have a blast !