Shall We Dance?
It's a rare occasion when Bollywood decides to junk those six pack, rock solid abs, and that shapely hour glass, proportional figure, from its leading characters, with superstars idolized by millions cast as lovers and setting the stage for an incredible love story, for something that's more grounded to earth. Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi is that love story about middle aged singles finding each other serendipitously, and falling in love in the process. Without much fan fare, without incredible trips to far flung reaches of the world. Just in and around your neighbourhood, when you least expected.
Boman Irani is probably best known by most for his role as the principal in 3 Idiots, and he's arguably just about being one of the best character actors in Bollywood, despite having to usually play someone's dad in his movies because he's middle age. Here he reclaims the leading role as Farhad, the singleton who's way past mid life, and constantly being egged on by those in the family, either with love or being mocked at, to get hitched. It's just that he doesn't have much luck at the romantic front, and his job as a salesman / consultant at Tem Tem's Bra and Panties Shop, doesn't endear him to the opposite sex who are looking for a partner with a more glamourous job to boast about.
But his honesty is just about that primary trait he exudes, coupled with that filial piety that's overlooked, with Daisy Irani and Shammi playing his mother and grandmother respectively, almost always threatening to steal the show with their comical timing and personifying the loveliness in a zany household, ribbing Farhad for this single ways, yet eager that he soon finds a soulmate after failed attempts at variations in matchmaking. But the expanded household sometimes got in the way especially with its rather feeble attempts at jokes, such as an Uncle's probable Alzheimer's induced infatuation with Indira Ghandhi, that may be cute in the beginning, but got a little bit tired when it stayed past its welcome in the narrative.
Still, the revelation here is Farah Khan. Yes, THE Farah Khan, who had masterfully choreographed item numbers in countless of Indian films, as well as turning into a filmmaker, being in the director's chair for films such as Main Hoon Na, Om Shanti Om and Tees Maar Khan, the latter which I enjoyed even if it got ravaged by most. She goes in front of the camera as the spinster Shirin, who got amused by her first encounter with Farhad at the Tem Tem shop, before as the story would have it, like Romeo and Juliet, become his only love sprung from whom he should have hated, being responsible for ordering the demolition of an illegal water tank that Farhad's dad had installed in his family home. This sets up for the perennial war between the would be daughter-in-law with her potential mother-in-law, if the blessings to get married do come.
Being the rookie actress, her rawness does get noticed, but somehow this was somewhat refreshing, rather than the countless of flawless performances put in by the Bollywood idols that put them too high up on the pedestal. Director Bela Bhansali Sehgal had worked the chemistry and pairing between Boman Irani and Farah Khan to wonders, and their starring opposite each other in many courtship scenes, while expected in its development, turned out as what would be best thing about the movie. Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi is as simple as it can get in storytelling terms, with the director applying uncomplicated techniques that won't distract the audience, and sometimes, plain vanilla is something that works best, even when the thin story tried its best to stretch itself toward the two hour mark. For a Bollywood film, the songs here didn't quite stick after the end credit rolled, and while Farah Khan does show a knack for dance (for sure, right?), Boman Irani did look a little bit awkward here when required to perform.
And for all the singles out there, with paunch, belly and all, perhaps this romantic comedy will provide that glimmer of hope that all is not lost. It addresses the constant pressures one may get from well meaning family members, even drawing upon real world scenarios such as the protection of one's clan or turf through population numbers, without which some heritage would be lost. Or addressing the habit of judging someone at face value, or profession, and drawing all sorts of conclusions from it. A lingerie salesman you say? I'm sure some would jump at the opportunity without hesitation!