‘Shaadi Ke Side Effects’: A Yawn Fest

MUMBAI: A sequel to director’s earlier film, Pyaar Ke Side Effects (2006), Shaadi Ke Side Effects deals with the post marriage equations between an urban couple, their ups and downs and their attempts to finally strike a balance in their married life. The names of the lead characters are carried forward though the faces have changed. Though posed as a comedy on two very independent people trying to adjust with each other, it is not really that. It crams in a lot of situations and issues in what could have been an outright laugh riot.

Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan tie the knot even though her widowed mother, Rati Agnihotri, does not really approve of Vidya’s choice. Because, while Vidya is a well-placed executive, Farhan is a struggling singer waiting to cut his first album and, till that happens, making some living out of composing jingles. Considering all that, the couple lives a lavish life. They have devised some role playing games which is supposed to keep their marriage interesting and Farhan also believes in saying sorry to his wife either way, whether he is wrong or she is. One of the games they play is, they check into a hotel and land up in its bar. They pretend to be total strangers who have become friends over a few drinks and have decided to go to bed together.

Their ecstatic romantic life leads to the inevitable. Vidya is pregnant. Neither one of the two is ready to start a family. While Farhan wants to do it after his career is launched, Vidya is shortly due for a promotion. While Vidya develops this sudden urge for motherhood, Farhan’s answer is no. It is while Vidya is on the operation table with an abortion due shortly that Farhan meets a father of quadruplets. They are the result of delaying parenthood and opting for other fertility methods, he learns. His decision is made and he wants the child too. The abortion process is terminated. To be fair to his wife, Farhan tries to undergo similar experiences that a pregnant woman would go through. The idea is to add some fun to the goings-on.

Producers: Ekta Kapoor, Shobha Kapoor, Pritish Nandy, Rangita Nandy.

Director: Saket Chaudhary.

Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Vidya Balan, Ram Kapoor, Gautami Kapoor, Vir Das, Purab Kohli, Rati Agnihotri.

Between the two, it is romance but when the couple becomes a family, role-playing and saying sorry stops being effective. Farhan tries his best to be helpful in tending to the child but Vidya’s maternal instincts always get the better of him. She knows why the child is crying, when it is feeling hungry, warm or cold. Farhan is no more the centre of attention to Vidya, he is marginalised while not being allowed to participate in parenting.

Farhan approaches Vidya’s brother-in-law, Ram Kapoor, a man he never thought much of. But he has watched Ram doting on his wife and kid. The couple is lovey-dovey with Ram taking the lead all the time. He wants to know how Ram manages this. Ram has his little secret on which Farhan tumbles accidently! He is advised by Ram to follow the same formula as him. He starts doing what, they say, ‘all men do’. Tolerable so far, the film loses it purpose and goes on an abstract track. With its age-old marital discord theme, its attempts to be contemporary but ends up creating a mess.

Scripting is rather ad hoc as it slips into flash-forward or flashback at whim. This includes a romantic song in flashback after the couple is married which does not quite interest a viewer. As a result of the script, the director has no hold on the proceedings and the film keeps meandering even as attempts at some light moments also fail. The film has some good songs in Tauba main vyaah karke pachtaya…, Bawla sa sapna, Desi romance… and Harry is not a brahmachari. However, these songs make for better listening on the audio track than they do in the film. Dialogue shows some sparks of wry humour in parts. 

Yet, the main problem is with the film’s length, with two characters hogging most of the footage, it carries on for 145 minutes. This shortcoming shows as the film goes on to become unbearable in the second half. Vidya performs well as expected; but she is fast going out of shape to be appealing. Farhan is his usual casual self. Ram Kapoor is good in a brief role. Vir Das is loud. While Rati Agnihotri, Purab Kohli and Gautami Kapoor are okay in support, Ila Arun’s character looks forced.

Shaadi Ke Side Effects has had a poor opening response despite much promotion; its reports won’t help further its prospects any more.

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