Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Vidya Balan, Purab Kohli, Ila Arun, Ram Kapoor
Director: Saket Chaudhury
Early on in 'Shaadi Ke Side Effects', Sid (Farhan Akhtar) reveals his secret to avoiding confrontations with his wife Trisha (Vidya Balan): "When I'm in the wrong, I say sorry. When she's in the wrong, I say sorry." Later on in the film, when he senses that his wife has begun leaning on their neighbor (Purab Kohli) for the smallest of chores, he says: "I'm feeling a bit like Sehwag. I played two matches poorly and they've replaced me with a younger batsman." Peppered with such gems, the film, co-written and directed by Saket Chaudhury, is funny and clever and surprisingly perceptive about marriage and parenthood, even if it does quickly run out of steam in the absence of any tangible conflict.
Sid, a struggling musician who earns his paycheck composing jingles, clearly isn't ready to be a father when Trisha becomes pregnant. The birth of their baby daughter is the death knell for Sid's social life, and for the intimacy he shared with Trisha.
Told from Sid's perspective, it's a familiar route that the script traverses...sleep deprivation, loss of freedom, new responsibilities, and a sense of failure. But Farhan and Vidya have refreshing chemistry, and the writers maintain a nice, irreverent tone even when touching upon delicate, complex emotions. In one scene, Sid gets embarrassed watching his wife become one of those parents who parades their child in front of friends, assuming they share her enthusiasm in watching the kid show off whatever new word she's just learnt. And although Sid's lack of affection for his daughter is genuinely baffling, there's no question that the resentment he feels at having to compete with the baby for Trisha's attention is palpably real.
Neglected and insecure, Sid heeds the advice of his brother-in-law (a hilarious Ram Kapoor), who insists that the foundation of a successful marriage isn't built on honesty, "but on the little white lies that couples tell each other". In carving out some 'me' time for himself, Sid begins leading a double life.
Unfortunately, the steady stream of laughs from the first half more or less dries up post intermission, when the writers struggle to come up with dramatic plot-points for a film that frankly has no story. Sid's mid-life crisis - he buys a motorbike, and begins partying with his new "bro" Vir Das - feels far-fetched and contrived, as does a subplot involving a helpful maid (Ila Arun) who subsequently oversteps her boundaries. Even a half-baked attempt at a twist in the film's final act can be guessed from a mile away.
Yet the film's consistently crackling dialogue and terrific performances from its leads makes it enjoyable despite its obvious bumps. It is to Vidya's credit that Trisha comes off as honest and identifiable, even though the script wholly sympathizes with Sid. Never slipping into caricature, she brings genuine feeling to a part that would've easily been reduced to a nag in the hands of a lesser actress. But 'Shaadi Ke Side Effects' belongs to Farhan, who reveals incredible comic timing as he slips into the role of the self-obsessed man-child struggling to cope with change. Steering clear of melodrama even when the script falls prey to it, Farhan plays it effortlessly cool.
The film then is easy and breezy, although too long at nearly two-and-a-half hours. I'm going with three out of five for 'Shaadi Ke Side Effects'. Predictable and occasionally misguided, but also hopelessly fun.
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