Director: Raj Mehta
Akshay Kumar, who has been selling self-righteous nationalism through films, advertisements and television interviews in the last few years, is back to where he really belongs – a goofy comedy where he is allowed to ham up, where rolling on the floor and taking potshots at weaker people is liberally considered humour.
In Good Newzz, directed by Raj Mehta, there is a scene where a stoned Kumar can’t stop laughing like a maniac while his heavily-pregnant wife is trying to negotiate a legal deal to not lose their rights over their child. The actor nicely relegates himself to the background of the scene while his co-actors go about their business. The scene works not really because he is a great actor, but because he performs goofiness wholeheartedly, without feeling the pressure to be at the centre of the proceedings.
The film is centred on a mix-up. Deepti (Kareena Kapoor), an entertainment journalist, and her husband Varun Batra (Akshay Kumar, a sales professional); they are the kind of people who read Marquez and wear designer clothes even at home. Their life inadvertently gets entwined with that of Honey Batra (Diljit Dosanjh) and Monica (Kiara Advani), a Chandigarh-based couple, when the sperm samples of the men get inter-changed at a high-profile IVF clinic in Mumbai. Deepti and Monica are impregnated by the wrong Batra, and this error of epic proportions enforces a necessity for the couples to be in a sort of familial relationship.
A lot of humour in the film stems from the difference between the couples’ social standards – the South Mumbai-ness of Deepti and Varun pitted against the small-town quality of Honey and Monica, all kinds of stereotypes tuned to the highest pitch.
Nevertheless, both the families are enormously rich, enough to buy and move into a posh Mumbai apartment overnight. Honey and Monica shift to Mumbai to keep an eye on Deepti, the woman carrying ‘his child’. Honey is ridiculed throughout the movie for his loudness and naivety, while Monica becomes Varun’s pastime for her erratic English accent and simplistic ways.
The jokes are politically incorrect but not entirely abhorrent for they are somewhat self-aware, used to flesh out the characters rather than be the film’s voice. Varun is mean and selfish, too occupied by his hatred for Honey and Monica to understand his wife’s physical condition. Their lack of sophistication disgusts him. In the scenes where he mocks them, the film takes an objective position, letting the audience laugh at him too.
What is abhorrent is the unoriginality in the writing part – Varun’s relationship with Deepti in the film’s first half is a lot inspired from cheesy and sexist ‘wife jokes’ that originated in the pre-internet era – and the film’s constant emphasis on the importance of “one’s own blood”, delegitimising other methods to have a child such as adoption on moral grounds. And the film begins like a television commercial with flat lighting and unnecessarily rapid cuts. Branded products are proudly displayed or slyly placed inside the frame one after another. Everything is made to look suave, salon-perfect and not remotely life-like.
Between the announcement of pregnancy to the arrival of the babies, the film keeps itself busy with the characters throwing tantrums over each other. There is a lot of typical fluff Bollywood is used to. Honey goes to the extent of stalking Deepti and Varun with a pair of binoculars, and barge into their apartment with oily Punjabi food.
Jokes are manufactured repeatedly on Honey mispronouncing sperm as spam. This kind of comedy, where the actors play along while being aware of the inanity of what’re up to, are entertaining to some extent, but becomes unbearably cringe when overused.
Casting Adil Hussain and Tisca Chopra, darlings of off-beat cinema, in important supporting roles, pays off. They effortlessly play the doctor couple who are at once sensitive and weird. It’s the women who help the film find some sanity. In the final part, Deepti delivers a moving spiel about the physical strain pregnant women undergo, and the gender politics in the business of pregnancy and child rearing.
Kapoor has always been an actor who can be both, a dollish heroine in designer wear as well as a compelling performer. In Good Newzz, she excels in being a good co-actor to Kumar in absurd comic scenes and bring aboard some much needed emotional elements to the film which is, after all, about the sensitive subject of parenthood. Advani does a good job of not going over the top playing the Punjabi stereotype. Her character is written to be tacky and shallow, but her performance helps the audience sympathise with her.
But a few such instances aside, Good Newzz is designed to be a mindless joke for the holiday season. More than anything else, it deserves a pat on its back for relieving the audience of the pressure of having to take lessons in patriotism from Akshay Kumar.
The Good Newzz review is a Silverscreen.in original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.