Synopsis – A coming-of-age story of a girl who experience life through misadventures & dating apps.
My Take – Though she managed to register her presence in 2014’s Fugly (her debut), M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016) and showed enough spunk and range in the highly deplorable Machine (2017), it wasn’t until her segment in the 2018 Netflix anthology film, Lust Stories, that turned Kiara Advani into a recognizable name.
And with both her 2019 follow up films, Kabir Singh and Good Newwz, turning into massive commercial successes, Kiara Advani easily cemented herself as one of the hottest young actresses to look out for. Hence it came as no surprise when it was announced that she would be carrying T-Series and Emmay Entertainment‘s next venture entirely on her shoulders.
Providing more highlight, with the theaters back in India now reopening, post the easing of lock down restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, first-time director Abir Sengupta‘s coming-of-age comedy also makes for the second film wide Hindi film release (after Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari) in months, promising high entertainment quotient for an audience looking for the much-needed respite. Unfortunately, I think we all need to wait longer for that, as the film is easily one of the worst releases of 2020.
While the film starts of as a coming of age/sex comedy about a girl exploring her sexuality and choices, pasted with cringe worthy double meaning dialogues, midway, without any warning, it shifts gears and turns into a slight thriller with a dash of patriotism with a track of terrorism forcibly thrown in to promote harmony between India and Pakistan.
Resulting in a very strange film that leaves both ideas completely unjustified, making one question how such a sloppily written film every got the green light for financing and release.
Set in Ghaziabad, the story follows Indira “Indoo” Gupta (Kiara Advani), voluptuous young woman, who has everyone from adolescent boys to retired uncles lusting after her. However, Indoo is of the old school variety and won’t even let her sleazy boyfriend kiss her unless he proposes marriage. But when she ends up getting cheated upon, Indoo turns to her trusted friend, Sonal (Mallika Dua), a self-claimed encyclopedia on men’s needs, who suggests that she join a dating app, to initiate a no strings attached one night stand.
Despite some initial apprehension, Indoo ends up taking this ill-advice and soon finds herself connecting and inviting a young man named Samar (Aditya Seal) to her home when she is alone. But when Samar reveals himself to be a Pakistani tourist, Indoo begins to wonder if she has inadvertently harbored a wanted terrorist suspect who has left the whole town abuzz.
The film actually opens on a quite promising note. Despite the cringe factor being introduced early on the film seemed to have all the makings of an unpredictable entertainer that is until the plot decides to derail itself and never gets back on track. Not a single attempt is made then onwards to salvage the goings-on by the characters, and their dialogues that are either unfunny, regressive, judgmental, objectionable and at most times downright crass.
When we see creepy old men and weird teens make a beeline to grab Indoo’s attention, it becomes amply clear that once again casual sexism is going to be passed off as comedy, which is loud, unfunny and downright crass. And without an ounce of conviction in the telling. For a supposed comedy, the film just lacks sorely in the department of funny dialogues and humorous punches.
The film also uses various tropes in hopes of making one connect to the story, however the elements put forth are naive at best.
Like Zomato has become Gomato, Facebook is Fakebook, Tinder is Dinder and when Sonal gives an advice, a meter pops up on screen. Similarly a meter appears when Samar appears in the loo.
The problem with writer-director Abir Sengupta’s film is that it’s highly preposterous and profoundly silly. Just like Indoo’s character that cannot decide whether she wants to be the badass and have all the fun or worry about her societal status, the film’s narrative also seems confused.
From full on Pakistan-bashing to half-hearted jingoism to preaching about not judging a book by its cover to saying that all Indians are highly judgmental, the film just flies in all directions, never landing anywhere. The only reprieve coming in the form of songs that are well shot with vivid imagination.
Performances wise, Kiara Advani looks drop dead gorgeous and strives hard to make sense of the randomness of her character. Her screen presence is extremely appealing and she puts up a very entertaining performance. The manner in which she rants angrily throughout the film makes for a humorous watch.
Aditya Seal is also very good and tries hard to salvage what he can from its convoluted plot. Mallika Dua does complete justice to her role and manages to bring in some laughs with her north accent. In other roles, Iqbal Khan, and seasoned and veteran actors like Rakesh Bedi, Rajendra Sethi and Rajesh Jais are simply wasted. On the whole, ‘Indoo Ki Jawani’ is a cringe-worthy half-baked comedy that derails at every turn.
Directed – Abir Sengupta
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 118 minutes