Vicky and Sara strain a lot to uplift this mediocre melodramedy

The film is set in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore (“Let us do the work till then you eat poha jalebi”).

Published: 05th June 2023 08:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th June 2023 08:43 AM   |  A+A-

A still from the film Zara Hatke Zara Bachke

Express News Service

If you are a middle-class character in a small-town comedy and you are not a balding lingerie salesman with erectile dysfunction who feels awkward in buying sanitary pads for his obese wife who is in love with another woman, do you even deserve to be concocted? Vicky Kaushal and Sara Ali Khan, thankfully, go for something simpler: A couple seeking divorce.

In comedies, Kaushal is either trying to own a piece of real estate (Love Per Square Foot) or trying to leave his wife (Govinda Naam Mera). In his latest outing Zara Hatke Zara Bachke (ZHZB), he is trying to do both. Double whammy!

The film is set in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore (“Let us do the work till then you eat poha jalebi”). Yoga teacher Kapil Dubey (Kaushal) and tuition tutor Saumya Chawla Dubey (Khan) have completed two years of blissful matrimony. They live with Kapil’s joint family in a small, correction: Very small house. So small that they don’t even have a backyard with a tulsi plant in the centre around which the family patriarch can gargle.

Anyway, Kapil and Saumya are tired of coochy-cooing in corners and want their own space. They embark upon a government housing scheme but the catch is that applicants can’t be houseowners. Kapil won’t ask his father to banish him from his property. Don’t ask why. Hence, they have to cook up a divorce so that Saumya can be allotted the house. That’s the only way. Is it really?

Conveniently, Kapil has a friend who is a divorce lawyer. The scenes where the betel nut chewing, Tere Naam hairdo-ed Advocate Aloud tries to convince a magistrate to grant the couple a divorce deserve a medal in decibel derby. The sequences, intended to be funny, seem to be straight out of a hurriedly written comedy show skit and hurt the head more than the jaw.

That can be said about almost all ‘humorous’ scenes in the film. Kaushal, while playing Kapil, switches on his small-town comedy persona, which consists of muttering in anger and shivering in glee while Khan’s Somya seems to have come downhill from Kedarnath (2018). Their romance consists of making puppy-dog eyes at each other and their tiffs result in Kaushal doing a bakasana with a pall of gloom over his face and Khan crying while choking on a five-star bar (He used to give her one every day).

The clunky screenplay also injects characters at a whim. A case in point is Sharib Hashmi’s nosy watchman Daroga Raghuvanshi. Sharib’s character is introduced only to give an emotional anchor to the film and feels ill-fitted. When conflict is needed, there isn’t enough. Kapil’s family brings down the house after they realise the cake they ate was not eggless but they aren’t that riled up by the divorce. They pester the couple to spell out the reason for going for separation but seem satisfied with unsatisfactory answers.

Touted in the trailer as a family drama, which will remind one of Hrishikesh Mukherji’s middle-of-the-road cinema, ZHZB turns out to be mostly middling. It reduces residents of Tier-2 towns to loud-mouthed, stingy caricatures seeking a backdoor entry everywhere. It seems a cop-out when the film, in its latter half, takes a sharp turn towards emotional upheaval with a funny character on the deathbed. If you are still in the mood for watching a middle-class couple balance ethics and economics in a bid to buy their first home, better to revisit a classic: Gharaonda (1977).


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