Cast: Farah Khan, Boman Irani, Kavin Dave, Shammi, Kurush Deboo, Daisy Irani
Directed by Bela Bhansali Sehgal
Romantic novels crack it as they're painted by the flamboyant technicolour of one's imagination. But 'Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi' (SFKTNP) go on to prove that the hero doesn't need to be right out of Mills and Boons and his love interest can have a few extra love handles. Love stories about the middle-aged have been only appreciated for their comic relief or for catering to those from the same age group as the couple on the screen. But brushing aside these notions, we are ushered into a world where man meets woman, a seductive saxophone fills up the air and then their paunches collide. Love at first bump. No honking sound-effects thankfully.
The film takes us into an average Parsi colony and all the stereotypes about their idiosyncrasies are quickly furnished. Neurotic man who writes love letters to Indira Gandhi- tick. Neurotic man who solves every problem by indiscriminately firing his antique gun- tick. Basically everybody is neurotic in some way and to some extent- double tick. But we're only concerned with Farhad Pastakia (Boman Irani) , 45, single, male, salesman at a bra and panty shop (that's his matrimonial profile). He is housed with a constantly hyperventilating mother Nargis (Honey Irani) and much calmer grandmum (Shammi). The focal point of everyone's concern is to get Farhad hitched, whose naughty 40s don't seem to going as planned and most can't keep themselves from feeling uncomfortable at the mention of his profession. But through a stroke of dhansak, there is a suitable match waiting for a perfectly filmy chance encounter. Whipping her hair from side to side, Shirin Fuggawala (Farah Khan) is the secretary of the Parsi Trust, who can't find anyone remotely suitable to mingle. Now giving away how Farhad meets Shirin would be unfair but here are a few snatches from their courtship that can leave your tummy with a tingling feeling:
Now that you have butterflies tap dancing in your tummy, let's get to the twist. Obviously, no love story is complete without a bit of hate, a lot of misunderstanding and a mother who doesn't approve and we have all three here. But what makes this wrinkle-free love story paisa vasool are the many cutesy moments between the lead pair. Right from the first attempt at kissing to holding hands to the many 'firsts', each has a beautiful uncertainty that keeps you excited, happy and rooting for them. Also the realisation of love for each is greeted with a syrupy bedroom jig that is as endearing as it is comical. Why? Because the duo unapologetically does everything one associates with teenage romance, only with more enthusiasm and less refrain.
Boman Irani is a delight and applies himself to his craft as assiduously as ever. Farah Khan's acting debut may be a bit delayed but she extends a vulnerable playfulness to her character and should've opted for this a decade ago. Honey Irani and Shammi are both equally cute and adorable, even when they say the most obvious things or react predictably in scenes or get screamingly dramatic.
The other debutant in this film, director Bela Bhansali Sehgal gets full marks for managing to set the mood and for keeping this ship from sinking even in the melodramatic scenes. Opening with a rom-com may seem like a safe bet but if your lead pair is 45+ in age and waist size, you're really Russian Roulette-ing with your career. But having been a film editor pays off as Bela understands the importance of containing each scene within a limit and avoids any spillovers. While most songs are primarily thematic and driven by the situation in question, the only one that brings a smile to your face is Mohit Chauhan's 'Kukuduku'. Even the lyrics of the song are genius- 'Ek Ladki Badi Gazab Ki Mili Shyam Ko, Kha Gayi Jo Churake Dil Ke Pakay Aam Ko'.
SFKTNP may not be the greatest love story ever told and may not have a novel plot even. But it leaves you with a snuggly feeling and yearning to experience what you've seen on the screen. And when Farhad's declares his love, saying, when he's much older and doesn't have his mind or his hearing, he would still remember Shirin, you know exactly what he means and how much he means it. After all, true love is like a tattoo, it can cause pain, get faded and change shape with wrinkles but it sticks.
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