Well, now I see why so many of you said that I shouldn’t be afraid to watch this movie. It is very pleasant, very light, doesn’t really make you super feel anything. So if you want a real tearjerker deep version of a surrogate story, don’t watch this. But if you want a pleasant timepass that is unobjectionable, this is a nice one.
There’s a trend lately of middle-class comedy films. I like them, but I find them surprisingly biting. They are satire more than comedy, if that makes sense. They hold a mirror up to society with all its flaws. And then, and this is the hardest part for me to swallow, they end with a conclusion that it’s all fine and dandy and sentimental and “cultural”. Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan, Badhai Ho, Dream Girl, even going back to Dum Laga Ki Haisha, there are REAL problems shown in those movies. And then those real problems are turned into jokes and we are supposed to forget them. In a lot of ways, I found Article 15 the least disturbing of Ayushmann Khurrana’s small town movies because it is the only one that isn’t a comedy. It is the only one that says “this is an actual problem that we should be angry about, we should confront, we should want to change” instead of just sinking into denial.
This movie is the opposite of Article 15. Instead of showing problems and taking them seriously, it doesn’t show problems and laughs at them. It manages to give the happiest simplest nicest version of surrogacy possible. And I have no problem with that!!!! If you want to make a light happy family film, then it’s perfectly fine to just NOT show real problems. I much prefer that to showing the real problems and then not addressing them really, saying that things are fine and don’t have to change, ha-ha-ha.
Everyone in this film is a good person trying to do the right thing. And the “right thing” is defined as the thing that causes the least harm to others. NOT what society thinks is the right thing to do. It is a film that allows its characters to ignore the “what will people think” question, and ignores that question itself. There’s no romance, there’s hardly any songs, there’s no social lesson really, and there’s no need to “convince” the patriarch to accept change blah blah blah.
Kriti is lovely and has what comes closest to a character arc. The other actors are basically just playing types, which is fine, they don’t have to go on individual journeys. Supriya Pathak has one excellent acting moment, Pankaj Tripathi has a couple of really REALLy good speeches, but mostly it is just Kriti going through trauma and changes. That’s okay too, you don’t have to have every character being all angsty and dramatic.
What this movie reminds me of the most is a lessor Hrishikesh Mukherjee film. In his greater films, there plot is all kinds of complicated and the characters have these dramatic journeys and so on. But in his smaller films, like Guddi, it is a few set character types played by set character actors, surrounding one small sweet simple story. It’s slice of life without any darkness, without any deeper meaning, just a story of good people trying to do the right thing.
This isn’t a Great movie, it could have been, if it had been something like Thappad that really dug into the issues. But I would rather have a movie that knows what it is, that knows it is going to be light and simple and happy, than a movie that thinks it is light but is actually dark.
Oh, and the white people actors are surprisingly really REALLY good! And complicated not stereotypical characters. As a white person, I always appreciate that.