Khandaani Shefakhani Review (No Spoilers): A Comedy That Wants to be a Drama

Well, this was a disappointing film. In that frustrating way where you can see the better film peaking through. It should have been a fairly decent drama, but instead they turned it into a terrible comedy. And I am a little extra disappointed because it is a female director writer and I suspect the story she wanted to tell got overruled by the male producers. A depressing but appropriate start to my Week of Women directors.

Do you know Jean Kerr? She was a writer whose husband happened to be one of the leading play reviewers in New York. And she wrote a humorous essay about what she learned from seeing all those plays as the reviewers wife. One of her many comments was that if it is a Shakespeare comedy and the actors are laughing more than the audience, it’s bad. And this movie is one of the many times I have been reminded of the wisdom of her rule!!!! This is a movie filled with people onscreen laughing at the crazy humor of talking honestly about sex, and no one laughing in the theater.

The problem is, this should be a movie like Shubhh Mangal Saavdhan or Bareilly Ki Barfi where the humor arises naturally out of the situations, not forced. But instead of starting from the situation and finding the humor, this movie stars with the jokes it wants to tell and the situations have to fill in around the edges. It’s extremely frustrating to watch, just as you feel something real for a character, you get pulled out of it and forced into another “funny” scene.

The other problem is Sonakshi. Or rather, she and film together are a problem. Kalank reminded me, again, how incredibly expressive Sonakshi is as an actress in silent small moments. And in this film there are several moments when she is just looking and remembering, or listening to someone talk, or having a sudden internal decision, and I am fascinated and drawn in. But then the movie shoves her back into a comedy scene, and it just doesn’t work.

Sonakshi can do comedy, I love her in Son of Sardaar and Action Jackson and Rowdy Rathore. When she is the kind of light comic heroine with a light comic hero in a light action movie, she is great. But what she can’t do is long comic monologues and carrying the humor of a scene all by herself, which is what she is asked to do in this film. It’s no good at all.

Oh Noor! Such a disappointment!

This should be a sensitive character study of a young woman who was forced to be the “man” of her family, with her running a sexual dysfunction clinic as a larger message about her taking on the problems of men. And that is there in several places, but then the film has to struggle again to find “comedy” in the situation. And too often the “comedy” seems to come from talking about sex, and a young woman being independent. As though those two things are funny all on their own, which ends up ruining the actual message of the film.

The movie is still okay, it works fine. It’s just, it could work better.

Like Akira. Such a good movie!

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