For most film-makers in the Bollywood industry, love has no boundaries but it does have an age limit. The hero might be a 40-something actor but he’ll still play a student in the film and fall in love with another student. The leading lady might be 20 years younger to her love interest, but we don’t bat an eyelid when the two romance each other. But rarely do we get a love story between two not-so-perfect people, who are well past their “expiry date”.
For that, director Bela Bhansali Sehgal deserves credit. Her protagonists definitely won’t fit into the “romance” mould that Bollywood has used threadbare for so many years. A 45-year-old undergarments salesman who lives with his mother and grandmother and an outspoken, brash spinster are prime candidates for a quirky love story.
Sehgal sets her story amid the Parsi community in Mumbai, known for its eccentricities and a unique sense of humour. Boman Irani plays Farhad Pastakia, a meek, but earnest underwear salesman who lives with his overbearing mother (Daisy Irani) and grandmother. His search for the perfect partner hasn’t been very successful, but that changes when he meets Shirin Fuggawala.
It turns out that his mother hates her because of a past incident and Farhad cannot bring himself to stand up to his mother — the love story looks like it might sour.
Like I said before, the concept is unique, but Sehgal messes up the execution. The jokes are forced and reflect none of the sharp Parsi humour that we are used to. Where it could have turned out to be an endearing love story between two people who are looking for love and companionship, Sehgal subjects us to random gags and toilet humour that isn’t even funny.
The film never catches hold of you, and in spite of a short running time of less than two hours, it seems to stretch on forever, thanks to a haphazard script. Most of the cast seem to think comedy means hamming, especially Boman Irani, who overdoes every scene.
Farah Khan, in her acting debut, is rough around the edges and seems comfortable only when she’s being herself. When she’s called on to act, she gets self-conscious and awkward. This certainly doesn’t help the already heavy tone of the film and its threadbare storyline.
“Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi” could have been a sweet romance, but turns out to be an entirely forgettable film that you would be best advised to avoid. If you must, watch it on television at home on a weekend when you have nothing better to do.
Shilpa Jamkhandikar covers entertainment for Reuters India. The views and opinions expressed here are her own and not of Reuters. Contact Shilpa at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @shilpajay