Shashank Khaitan

Another Take
Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania:YRF-Dharma Hangover Syndrome

In 1995, a film gets released and becomes a super-hit and then, an evergreen watch. This is how the audience sees Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The way Shashank Khaitan, the writer-director of HSKD sees it, is however different. There can be two possibilities. Either he’s obsessed with the SRK-Kajol starrer, like his film’s lead man Humpty/Rakesh Sharma (Varun Dhawan), or he thinks the audience wants to see a DDLJ in every film. His idea of recreating the charm of the old film by copying its elements has also found a great backing in producer Karan Johar who has his own bank of nostalgia attached to it.

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya is a way-too-obvious rehash of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The plot reminds you of the original film at regular intervals and by the end leaves you confused about whether Humpty Sharma really deserves it; because you know, Raj was so much more awesome.

Humpty is a carefree college guy living in Delhi who can’t pass his exams without bullying his professor in the middle of the night like a professional thug. His friends Shonty and Poplu accompany him without any real purpose while his father runs a bookstore in the very same college campus. On the other hand, in Ambala lives Kavya Pratap Singh (Alia Bhatt) who is about to get married in a month’s time. She’s daring, lovable, spontaneous, smart and all that; but she has given her consent to get married by her father’s choice. Also, at this juncture the biggest thing for her is to grab a paanch-laakh-ka designer lehanga so that she can outwit her friend Gurpreet. Humpty and Kavya meet, all too conveniently, and fall in love. Second half shows Humpty’s struggle to win over Kavya’s father, where he hardly does something which can amount to merit. Meanwhile, the soon-to-be bride gulps beers with the boys she first saw when they were bullying her uncle. Later, she sleeps with her four-weeks-old lover without hesitation and pre-deciding that it’s only a one-time thing. We see that Humpty’s father is just like his buddy who is super-cool with him bringing home random girls for partying. We see Kavya’s father (Ashutosh Rana) allowing his daughter’s lover, some guy from Delhi she met barely a month ago, stay in the house while preparations for her marriage with someone else go on. He also smokes with this goofy chap.

We get it. We know what is being conveyed. We know society is changing and many things are now no longer a taboo. We are cool with it, only if the characters show some consistency in their actions. Only if the entire family doesn’t support the man considering the act of marrying his daughter a lottery-competition in which the winner would be announced at the final moment. What sort of guy is he, by the way? Is he open-minded or rigid? If he is nice, why not remarry his elder daughter than taunting her for a failed marriage? If he is traditional why does he present her daughter an opportunity on a platter to elope with her lover? What’s wrong with Kavya? She instantaneously falls in love with the guy who ties her uncle on a swing, stalks her, is a failure in college and a loudmouth elsewhere and has little prospects at making any sort of a career. He is goodhearted, sure, but she doesn’t fall for him because of that, but from the very first scene she has no apprehensions about this Dilli guy, as if she is being dictated by the script. Of course, love is blind but to make for a convincing film we wish for one genuine reason to trigger the emotions. And just how sorted is Humpty Sharma? What is his motivation in life? What sort of a profession he has in mind for himself? Is this guy even ready for marriage? And what are his moral standards if he thinks it’s cool to extort money from a married woman by filming her having sex! She may be having an extra-marital or her husband could be a pathetic guy at home - but all that is her personal life and what Humpty does is a criminal offense and no poetic justice.

So bottom line is: The entire story is too contrived and doesn’t even begin to call for an emotional bond with the characters. However, the treatment is crisp and fresh. A sharp edit, first-rate cinematography and impressive performances elevate the film to the level of a one-time watch. Screenplay is economical and dialogs are witty. Even if you don’t ‘feel’ for the characters it doesn’t bore you to watch them. Alia Bhatt looks very pleasant and pulls off an admirable performance becoming the film’s biggest USP. Varun Dhawan suits his character while other actors like Ashutosh Rana (welcome back!) do justice to their parts.

Watch HSKD for Alia Bhatt. To watch the re-run of a great emotional ride, head to Maratha Mandir and watch DDLJ. After all, the magic of a great film can happen again but only with a film which has its own soul - You can’t just make the same film twice.

   Dinkar Sharma


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