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Hasee Toh Phasee

Rating: 3

February 07, 2014

Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra, Adah Sharma, Sharat Saxena, Manoj Joshi, Neena Kulkarni, Anil Mange

Director: Vinil Matthew

A young man finds himself drawn to his fiancee’s sister in the days leading up to his wedding. That ghisa pita formula gets a fresh coat of paint in ad-filmmaker Vinil Matthew’s feature debut, Hasee Toh Phasee, a not-always-convincing but seldom boring romantic comedy. For the most part, Matthew and writer Harshvardhan Kulkarni stay away from standard tropes of Bollywood love triangles, choosing quirky humor over sappy sentimentality to endear their protagonists to us.

In between making preparations for the wedding, and trying to land a chunk of money to keep his event management business from floundering, Nikhil (Student of the Year’s Sidharth Malhotra) is handed charge of Meeta (Parineeti Chopra), the black sheep of his fiancee’s family. Back in town seven years after robbing her parents and running away, she must be kept hidden from them at all costs.

Chopra is terrific as Meeta, pill popping and crazy mannered, but a genius scientist adept at everything from repairing household gadgets to charging a car battery from the generator on an illuminated bus shelter. She has palpable chemistry with Malhotra, who’s in very good form as the rudderless Nikhil, conflicted in matters of both heart and career.

Unfolding against the lead-up to a big, fat Indian wedding, Hasee Toh Phasee gives us some of the funniest, most inspired moments in recent rom-com memory. A shopping trip to Bhuleshwar becomes complicated when an elderly grandma snaps her sandal-strap. Nikhil’s own father (Sharat Saxena) faces an embarrassing investigation when an expensive necklace goes missing. And, in one of my favorite scenes, Nikhil wakes up his father-in-law-to-be (Manoj Joshi) in the dead of the night to discuss wedding arrangements.

Indeed, it’s a bunch of such refreshingly original sequences, the unconventional bit characters that the makers throw in (a cousin who breaks into acapella renditions of Anu Malik songs, a millionaire investor who conducts business meetings in the sauna, a fat Gujarati uncle eager to make conversation), and the charming performances by the leads that make up for the many speed bumps in the plot. I was never fully sold on the reasons for Meeta’s dependence on anti-depressants, her real motivation to be reunited with her father, and the flimsy subplot about an unpaid loan in China. They come off as contrived in a film that’s otherwise delightfully off-centre.

Brimming with witty dialogue and some genuinely heartfelt moments, the film doesn’t snap even under the weight of its clichéd climax. At 2 hours and 21 minutes, it’s a tad long and repetitive, yet saved by some solid acting. Parineeti Chopra, in particular, deserves every accolade that’ll come her way; this is her fourth film release and once again she’s the best thing in it.

I’m going with three out of five for director Vinil Matthew’s Hasee Toh Phasee. Despite its problems, it’s pretty good fun. Go see it.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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