It is a huge responsibility to try and pay tribute to a film like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, which, despite having released 19 years ago, continue to stay alive in the hearts of many and is treated as the last word when it comes to Bollywood rom-coms. Although the storyline was predictable, the film did have a lot of things working in its favour then–fresh foreign locales, a dazzling lead pair, good music et al. The love story of London-bred (yet extremely rooted) youngsters Raj and Simran gave a whole generation waiting to break free from the shackles of the conservative Indian society something to celebrate and want to emulate.
Almost two decades have passed and DDLJ would induce frustrating groans from today’s youngsters who seem to be much more sensible, pragmatic, open and fearless as compared to their seniors. So here comes debutant director Shashank Khaitan’s take on Aditya Chopra’s masterpiece, which gives it the right amount of zing, fun and colour. This film is no classic, it is your cheesy Bollywood song-and-dance-rom-com, but nevertheless it is an entertainer from the word go.
Humpty (Varun Dhawan) knows that he is no Shah Rukh Khan that he would get to go on a European holiday if he failed to graduate. And Kavya (Alia) is modern, yet not oblivious to her family’s feelings, which is why she decides to go with the flow and agrees for a wedding arranged by her father. But although the film starts off calling them emotional fools, these youngsters, like most youngsters depicted in Bollywood these days, turn out to be quite headstrong when it comes to dealing with their love lives. Unlike Simran, who is scared to even talk about her boyfriend to her father, Kavya tries to reason it out with hers (Ashutosh Rana) on why he should give Humpty a chance. The strict, conservative father figure played by Amrish Puri in the original is given no backstory as to why he ended up being what he is, while Khaitan gives Singh Saab (Rana) a believable and more humane reason as to why he is against the alliance.
The film stays true to its source when it comes to major plot points, but twists them on its head with some fun elements added in. Here, too the boy, rather irresponsible and carefree, falls for a girl who is already engaged, and ends up in her house while her wedding celebrations are on full swing to win her back. But Khaitan succeeds in keeping us engaged in the “same-old-story” with some witty and realistic banter among the leads. Dhawan seems confident as ever playing the quintessential Bollywood leading man and is amply supported by some good acting by Gaurav Pandey and Sahil Vaid, who play his friends. Alia Bhatt as the “pataka” Kavya is believable, but her character keeps reminding one of her performances in her recent films Highway and 2 States.
Three things (apart from some other loose ends) which do not work at all in this film are the music (which is loud and uninventive), Alia’s make-up (which is always too powdery, proper and at times distracting, making others in her family and around her look like lesser mortals) and Varun’s styling in the first half (which makes it too obvious that he is trying to “play” Humpty). Cheesy, alright, but Humpty Sharma is definitely an energetic and fun-filled ride. But it looks like we’ll have to wait really long for Hindi films to get rid of the out-of-context elaborate song-and-dance setpieces, the mandatory gay joke in their plots, and heroines who wear pink lip colour when they are off to bed!
Film: Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania
Director: Shashank Khaitan
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Ahutosh Rana