Every once in a while there comes a film that is mostly clichéd and utterly predictable, and is yet difficult to hate because its leads are so darn likable. Shaadi Ke Side Effects is one such film.
Starring Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan as a young married couple dealing with the arrival of a new member in the family, Shaadi Ke Side Effects is not a Marriage-movie but a Baby-Movie. And on that front it pretty much ticks every box in the Baby-Movie genre: a) Witty observations on how a man’s freedom evaporates post marriage, b) Humorous scenarios involving babies annihilating your precious sleep, c) Sex life going for a toss, d) Gender politics regarding responsibilities, e) Funny baby care related anecdotes.
Yup, this is an ‘easy’ movie with easy jokes and scenarios. Surely this could have been a smarter film than it is, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t a good movie. Shaadi Ke Side Effects is consistently enjoyable, mainly thanks to Farhan’s comic timing and his mystic ability to make contrived scenarios passable rather than cringe worthy. A large section of SKSE reminds you of Paul Reiser’s books Couplehood and Babyhood, and that could explain why director Saket Chaudhary named the film as a pseudo sequel to his earlier venture Pyaar ke Side Effects.
The premise involves Trisha’s (Vidya Balan) desire for children, something that Sid (Farhan) is not ready for. It’s less of a plot and more of a gimmick to get the ball rolling - from there you can pretty much guess the rest - Sid must juggle his job and his insecurity of being the alpha male bread winner of the house while keeping Trisha from wrecking his confidence. Along the way Sid gives you sardonic voiceovers about the hilarities of love, marriage and babies as he does more and more stupid things to keep his male chauvinistic ego afloat.
The lack of a well-developed story here can be overlooked because there are some fun moments, particularly when Sid and Trisha riff off each other. A scene where Sid, who is dazed by social baby-potty talk cracks jokes about his own potty is hilarious. Refreshingly, the characters are quite mature and have more than one dimension. Trisha is someone who sacrifices her career for her child but that trait doesn’t define her. Sid is a freelancer who loves to indulge in freewheeling, but is not a childish buffoon. The interplay between Trisha and Sid is pretty entertaining thanks to Farhan and Vidya’s onscreen chemistry, and they score extra brownie points for rooting their performances in reality. They are fun to watch together more so because their humor is identifiable instead of farcical. Both Farhan and Vidya seem aware of the script’s flimsiness but they hit just the right notes instead of overcompensating.
Sure, there are a few things in the film that paint marriage in broad strokes, and the baby girl herself is glossed-over. Rati Agnihotri shows up as the mom in law but she has fewer lines than scenes. The less said about Ila Arun’s crummy nanny character, the better. Unlike in Pyaar ke Side Effects, the songs in Shaadi ke Side Effects by Pritam are terrible and generic to say the least, and were obviously padded on just to sell the film. The final fifteen minutes have some ridiculous drama that consists of nonsensical confrontations and reconciliations. It’s when the film strains for story conflicts and solves them in lazy ways, but thankfully the finale eases out right before your palm reaches out for your face.
Still, the film’s blunders are outweighed by its goodies, a big one of which is Ram Kapoor as the Perfect Dad who keeps making Sid jealous. Vir Das is a scene stealer as Sid’s reckless single stoner friend, the personification of who Sid wants to be. There are a handful of solid giggles, and the film cleverly pushes the right double standard buttons to outrage both sexes, and ties it all up with a neat little bow in the end. That kind of balance is rare in Bollywood, and for that the film merits a definite recco.
(First published in Firstpost)