Sunday, July 13, 2014

Movie review: "Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania"


It's tough to think of a Karan Johar production that doesn't have memorable music. But "Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania" is no "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani". Indeed, there were moments in the movie hall when I wished I owned a universal remote to fast-forward through all the excruciating songs.

It's a good thing that Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt are there to save the day and put "Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania" on 2014's list of unmissable movies.

It's been two years since Varun and Alia made their Bollywood debut as a pair of high-school brats in "Student of the Year". By the time "Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania" came along, baby-faced Alia had two other commendable releases ("Highway" and "2 States"), while Varun's second movie outing ("Main Tera Hero") didn't quite drive him into the big league. Which is why "Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania" had a lot riding on it:

a) Prove that Varun wasn't a one-film wonder.
b) Give Bollywood's reigning queen Deepika Padukone the heebie-jeebies thinking about Alia's back-to-back successes.
c) Pay homage to "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" -- the "Titanic" of Indian cinema -- and expect adherents to forgive and forget.
d) Woo audiences with a protagonist (nick)named after a nursery rhyme character, namely an anthropomorphic egg that falls from a wall.

Director Shashank Khaitan, yet another first-timer from producer Karan Johar's hit-churning movie factory, succeeds on all counts. And before I start gushing about "Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania", here's a look at the film's storyline (with no spoilers, of course).

Humpty Sharma (Varun) is a happy-go-lucky Punjabi munda at a Delhi college who spends a lot of time with loyal sidekicks Poplu and Shonty. Enter Kavya Pratap Singh (Alia), who travels from Ambala to Delhi in her quest for the perfect designer lehenga that would embellish her upcoming wedding to a rich NRI doctor.

Sparks fly, Cupid strikes, and before long Humpty turns up in Ambala to convince Kavya's dad (Ashutosh Rana) to bless the duo. Unfortunately, Dad is one of those I-hate-love-marriages guys who has his heart set on getting Mr. Perfect Angad as his son-in-law. What could poor Humpty possibly do?

If you can't see the similarities with DDLJ, do not worry. Director Khaitan thrusts it in your face with situations, characters and dialogue, not to mention that scene at the beginning where Humpty is in tears watching the star-crossed lovers of the 1995 blockbuster.

Well, if the plot of "Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania" doesn't sound too epic -- and believe me, it isn't -- everything else makes up for it. Endearing characters, witty lines, laugh-out-loud situations and crackling chemistry between the lead pair. Both Varun and Alia are funny and adorable, although they face some serious competition from Sahil Vaid, who plays the goofy Poplu, perhaps the film's most memorable character. Watch him and you'll know what I mean.

"Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania" may not be an Oscar-winner but it's guaranteed to entertain you. Just find something to do when the songs come on.

Rating: ****

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