Friday, February 19, 2010

Toh Baat Pakki

Starring: Tabu, Sharman Joshi, Vatsal Sheth, Ayub Khan, Yuvika, Himani Shivpuri

Director: Kedarh Shinde



At a time when most of Bollywood is mostly dominated by large-scale extravaganzas,
smallish films exploring a middle class ethos can be charming to watch, if they care to etch their characters with care and depict the ordinariness of life in interesting ways. Toh Baat Pakki unfortunately is too TV ish in its treatment and sensibilities. It peddles ideas about marriage that went out of fashion even before Ekta Kapoor struck with her saas-bahu serials. Also given director Kedarh Shinde's background with theatre (he's directed Marathi films and plays), he tends to make his situations and characters look too staged and even loud on occasions.

The film is an average comic-drama that stays mildly engaging in its first half, but peters out completely in the second, ending up as a lame effort overall. The only memorable character in the film is Tabu as the shrewd, calculative match-maker for her sister. One sees traces of Rekha's Khoobsoorat character in the manner in which she manipulates familial situations. There's also a cue taken from Sridevi's Judaai character in its comic tone, though Tabu's meanness essentially arises from the universal selfishness that is felt by most when it comes to the interests of one's near and dear ones. It's not a very subtle or nuanced character, but given that our leading ladies are usually portrayed either as paragons of virtue or as vamps, it's nice to see some grey shades, and Tabu is clearly enjoying herself to the hilt here.

The story looks more apt for stage in the manner in which the action takes place in one house, with characters moving in and out of rooms. Rageshwari (Tabu) is well-settled into her middle-class life with her husband (Ayub Khan) and kids. She has dreams of seeing her sister, Nisha (Yuvika) married to a well-off guy. She sets sights on Rahul (Sharman Joshi) who is studying for engineering. Nisha too begins to like him, and all seems well. Enter Yuvraj (Vatsal), a manager with a secure pay packet and Rageshwari decides to do an about turn. Without the slightest compunction, she gets rid off Rahul to accommodate Yuvraj.

The second half is about how Sharman's character uses his wits to outdo Tabu and prevent Nisha from marrying Vatsal. Most of it is anyway reminiscent of Amol Palekar's Chit Chor and its utterly poor remake, Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon. There is no real conflict, as there isn't much to choose between Yuvraj and Rahul in the first place. Also, Tabu's hastiness in making a match and then breaking it off hardly seems convincing. She's also too emotionally detached throughout so many situations don't ring true.

The second half is a total let-down. Sharman's plans of doing a one up on Tabu is made up of all lame and predictable stuff. Most disappointing is the manner in which Tabu's character abruptly has a change of heart .

The film is also full of continuity errors. The colour of Yuvika's salvaar kameez miraculously changes when she comes out of a temple in the same sequence. The story you are told happens is a North Indian town, but you spot shops with Tamil sign boards and there are also coconut trees all around.

The film is quite forgettable, expect for a good performance from Tabu. It's also nice to see Sharman again after his ace act in 3 Idiots. He is good here too, but has a poorly written part. Vatsal has nothing much to do. Yuvika is a looker, even if her acting skills are not really tested.

Overall, a very average film.

Stars: **

- Sandhya Iyer

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