This weekend, tons of young, frustrated boy-men will be queuing up at the nearest fertility clinic with their life history in a single file and a ‘Eureka’ look on their pimpled faces. All of them will be looking for their very own broad-minded Doctor Chaddha, hoping for the sight of a reassuring Annu Kapoor sitting behind his desk wearing a half-perverted, half-sincere smile.
The promos of Vicky Donor, when aired a month ago, gave a lot of viewers hope of escape from the regular, ho-hum, slapstick, cheap concocted world of Sajid Khan and Anees Bazmee – much like Delhi Belly and Pyaar ka Punchnama did last year. This could be the comedy that actually belongs to a tiny new genre, I thought, and if we were lucky, there’d be enough soul in it to pass it off as a good, sincere film. Nowadays, concept is everything. Everything is concept. Sperm donor in INDIA? In Dilli? In the world where everything is done behind closed doors and mustard fields? How interesting!
But then, a film called Bittoo Boss, that had given most of us equal hope of a new beginning with its promos, which looked uncannily similar to Vicky Donor but turned out to be a complete damp squid. It was so temperamental in its treatment, that ‘to hope’ for the next good watch after Kahaani had become a bridge too far.
And how delightfully wrong we were. The trailers were a good indication of things to come, for once, and the film – very simplistic and effective in its treatment – manages to make deep in-roads into a lot of Indian cinematic clichés. You see, ‘sperm’, the word, is often frowned upon by ‘well-educated and respected’ families all over India, not only Delhi. It automatically leads a lot of ‘elders’ to think of masturbation, which is apparently a taboo, which in turn, could mean watching porn, which in turn, means disrespect for Indian values and traditions. The very same values that has turned our country into a breeding ground of human beings, of course. Notice the cynicism and sarcasm in my tone here?
Well, Vicky Donor has – very smartly – put across this same message in a very entertaining manner through the craft of filmmaking and clean, intelligent writing. Every regional cliché – and what better people than North Indians and Bengalis in this country – is turned into a light hearted, fun-filled jibe that might even have your grandparents chuckling away at their own inadequacies and narrow-mindedness.
An open-minded ‘Dadi’ that believes in the latest gadgets and adoption, a character that almost steals the film single-handedly, is an excellent instrument used to gently probe a vast majority of conservative old thinkers into a safer direction. An orthodox, but strong independent Punjabi mother, who isn’t afraid to get drunk every night rings free of the regular housewife kitty-party mentalities and drives home a reality that most Indian families try their best to cover up. A stuck-up, proud, rigid but open-minded intellectual Bengali father is the perfect foil to his unmarried, creepy old sister- as they live together in one household bringing up their divorcee young working daughter in a cocooned, yet regulated environment. A strong, self-conscious, careful young Bengali daughter (Yami Gautam), adjusting well to the capital, while succumbing to the aggressive, dominating, ‘horny’ clichés that plague girls of her kind, displays a considerable amount of affection and understanding to convert those ‘flaws’ into regular traits. A brash, loud, abrasive non-ambitious Sikh Boy borders on the line of sleazy lechery, but flashes you a smile with twinkling naughty eyes that convinces you of his willingness to change and adapt. The actors, especially debutant Ayushmann Khurrana, play these characters with an open heart and unabashed raw poise and are given a free reign over that familiar favorite Indian language by the director and writer. Yet again, the capital proves to be the venue for the most interesting Indian stories.
Annu Kapoor, who is still very memorable to me as the young, lost, drug-fuelled alcoholic that proves to be a faithful friend to Shah Rukh Khan’s Rahul in Darr, proves his versatility once again that puts to rest all the clichés of sex-therapists and ‘sex doctors’ with a performance that is sincere, soulful and very authentic. His character of the bumbling, humble, well-meaning fertility specialist could acquire cult status over the ages, whenever the word ‘sperm’ (spuram, as he says) is mentioned.
The Punjabis dismiss Bengali men as ‘fattus’ and submissive husbands happy in their cloud of whisky and fish, but this Bengali father – though a lover of fish and character – is anything but that, while possessing shades of those clichés. The Bengalis dismiss their North-Indian counterparts as loud, obnoxious, shameless misfits bordering on alcoholism at the drop of a hat but the Arora family is so discreetly self-condescending, that even the staunchest Sikh men will have to give their lives a rethink. Why? Because this film, while teaching them to laugh at their own selves, also holds a shiny mirror to their satisfied, entertained faces.
An Indian film is not without its flaws, as is this one, but we are a race that balances our tolerance for flaws with our capacity to be entertained. Vicky Donor could have done with some strict editing in the first half – especially when Chaddha was chasing Vicky for his sperm (see how I said that?), but it is hard to blame the director for not falling in love with his material. Word of mouth and plenty of sperm jokes that do not begin and end with American Pie, will ensure that this good piece of well-constructed cinema gets more than a watch or two. I can bet my spuram on that.
Hindi, Comedy, Romance, Drama, Color