Rajkumar Hirani or one of his acolytes (say, Rajesh Mapuskar, who directed the recent Ferrari ki Sawaari) would have given their eyeteeth to make Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi, a comedy about a couple of fortysomethings who fall in love. The Hirani touch isn’t there in just the quirkiness of the plot but also in situations that float freely between slapstick, sentiment and slightly surreal whimsy. No film, to my mind, has attempted a cross-cutting stretch of comedy as audacious as the one here, where an elderly Parsi gent is admitted to the hospital because he cannot pass gas, while, nearby, Farhad (Boman Irani) examines the contents of his girlfriend’s post-enema bowl to locate the engagement ring she accidentally swallowed. Did I mention that this Parsi gent is in love with Indira Gandhi, and writes letters to her proclaiming his undying devotion? Or that Farhad is a salesman in a women’s undergarments store, where he peddles fluorescent bras?
This sort of material, to be pulled off, needs a certain kind of director – Bela Bhansali Sehgal isn’t that director. About the only thing she can be commended for is the subject, which inflicts on a middle-aged twosome the kind of problems that befall twentysomethings in our cinema (including an overbearing parent screeching “Yeh shaadi nahin ho sakti”). Otherwise, the film is an amateur play at best, with constant cutaways to exaggerated reaction shots from the silent-movie era. The songs are worse – the low point may be when Shirin (Farah Khan) bounds about her room, chirping, “I want to touch the sunlight / I want to chase the rainbow.” (Or maybe the low point is the number where Shirin and Farhad dress up like the young couples in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.) In the middle of this mess, it’s heartbreaking to see Boman Irani attempt an actual performance, inflecting his character with the subtlest of nuances. Someone should tell him that there’s a time to lay bare your soul and a time to grab the cheque and run for your life.
Copyright ©2012 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.