Movie Review: Hasee Toh Phasee

February 7, 2014

(The views expressed here do not represent those of Thomson Reuters)

Vinil Mathew’s “Hasee Toh Phasee” has the trappings of a conventional Hindi romantic comedy — the big fat wedding; the quirky extended family; two lost souls; and much song and dance.

Yet, Mathew manages to combine these elements into an unusual film that sparkles with humour and witty repartee, and despite a few bumps along the way, makes for a fun ride. The humour is reminiscent of TV sitcoms, and draws on several modern Indian pop culture references, including campy Bollywood songs and cult TV favourites like CID, to draw laughs.

At its heart, “Hasee Toh Phasee” is about Meeta and Nikhil, who meet a few days before he is to get married to her sister. Nikhil is stressed because his fiancée wants him to be successful and rich, while he is struggling with his event management business. When Meeta — who gets mysterious phone calls from China; compulsively gulps down mysterious pills; and seems decidedly neurotic — returns home, Nikhil is asked to take care of her and ensure she doesn’t ruin the wedding.

At first, he looks at Meeta (Parineeti Chopra) as a nuisance who just has to be kept at bay to ensure a stress-free wedding, but slowly, a bond develops. Alongside, the film also delves into the relationship between Meeta and her father, played endearingly by Manoj Joshi, and gives us some of the film’s most touching moments.

Yet, the film cannot avoid the usual traps — including Meeta as the Gujarati girl in torn jeans and unmade hair who dresses up and is heavily made up for a Punjabi wedding song, in what seems completely out of character at that point. Not to mention a last-minute dash from the airport and high drama at the wedding venue.

There is also a very convenient solution for Meeta’s addiction to anti-depressant pills, where Nikhil tells her she’s a coward and unable to face reality. For millions of people tackling depression and taking those pills, that is as offensive as it can get.

But director Mathew makes up for some flaws by adding bit characters that are memorable and cleverly etched — there’s the wannabe cousin from Kanpur who dreams of being the next Indian Idol and has a crush on Meeta; the cranky grandmothers; and Nikhil’s father (Sharat Saxena) as a no-nonsense police officer who is suspicious of everyone.

Of the lead pair, Parineeti Chopra steals the show. There are shades of Meeta’s character that will remind you of her roles in “Ishaqzaade” and “Shuddh Desi Romance”, but that doesn’t take away anything from her performance in “Hasee Toh Phasee”. Her acting is unadulterated, and just a joy to watch. Sidharth Malhotra cannot match her standards, but is a huge improvement over his debut in “Student of the Year”, handling the comic and emotional scenes with some confidence.

“Hasee Toh Phasee” is an unusual romantic comedy, but for some powerhouse performances and genuinely good humour, this film is worth it.

(Follow Shilpa on Twitter at @shilpajay. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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