Mere Dad Ki Maruti throws up a debutant director with promise and actors who deserve to be in more films, writes Raja Sen.
There’s something interesting brewing at Y Films, that upstart we’re-so-young spinoff banner from Yash Raj Films.
Things looked ludicrous at first, with films trying too hard and but last year’s Mujhse Fraandship Karoge gave us a standard-issue Hollywood style high-school film (which really isn’t standard-issue at all in these parts) and now two boys from that film show up again with another popcorn entertainer, this time set around that most YRF of settings, a Punjabi wedding.
Except -- and this is important -- the leads are now all drowning in twitterspeak. (Or should that be #twitterspeak?)
A self-styled young stud with delusions of coolth (often undone by some struggles with English grammar) looks at the new red car being wheeled into the house.
He exultantly leaps forward and appears to be humping it before his porky father jeeringly peels him off the front bonnet. Our hero’s sister, you see, is getting married in a couple of days, and the car is a ‘present’ for the hero’s brother-in-law to be.
It is, then, but natural that he borrows it to impress a girl. And then -- in the most throwaway manner -- manages to lose it.
It’s frequently silly and sometimes daftly plotted, but Aashima Chhiber’s directorial debut crackles along very breezily indeed, with enough gags fired out so that it doesn’t matter if a third of them miss their mark.
Mere Dad Ki Maruti is also the right length; a generation squeezing their lives into a 140 characters deserves films much shorter than our standard 140 minutes, and this one crisply weighs in at well under two hours.
One of the major reasons the film works is because of the ensemble. Ram Kapoor is excellent as Tej, the boy’s dictatorial daddy, a portly miser who (justifiably) refuses to trust his anything-goes son, and the rest of his family is shrewdly cast as well: and here a special round of applause for the actresses playing Tej’s wife and daughter for one fantastic scene.
The bride, at her own sangeet, launches into an insanely inappropriate dance routine, and while everyone from dulha to bhai is aghast with scandal, the mother is tapping along with pride, nodding head gleefully at seeing daughter dear hit the right beats. Bravo.
A bigger hand for Prabal Panjabi playing Gattu, the hero’s BFF. Constantly funny even when having to say “hells no” to a Chandigarh policeman, Panjabi is like a highly likeable Vir Das -- I mean if Vir Das could act.
As it stands, this fellow is a delight, and provides a perfect foil for the film’s lead, Saqib Saleem, who delivers an irresistibly confident and spontaneous performance.
As quick to strut as he is to grovel, his Sameer is sprightly and high-energy and feels real despite all the surreality around him. At one point, begging the annoyed Gattu for a huge favour, he asks “bhai nahin hai bhai ka?” (“be a brother to a brother?”) with such warm entitlement that it’s clear why he’s impossible to turn down. He’s a charmer, and carries the film lightly but assuredly.
Heck, even the extras are cast well, right from a snoring policeman apologising to his wife in his sleep to the squirt who works for a bhai selling stolen cars.
There is a surfeit of flavour and sometimes the double-dose of Punjabiness and #lingo seems a bit much, but there’s enough to sit back and smirk at, with or without the accent. And the dialogues by Ishita Moitra mostly work very well indeed, as characters call legs “epic” and invite girls for gedis.
Special points for including the slangy “tunch” in there, not to mention rhyming it with fruit punch. (Um, you’d be well served to take a Punjabi friend along if you aren’t from North India.)
The film does serve as an advertisement for Maruti’s Ertiga, sure, but then it also slyly disses Maruti’s Alto, and lays on the Ertiga praise so thick it doesn’t pretend to be subtle.
I cringed when a girl looked at the car and called it “hot wheels” as if it were a convertible but then the girl drunkenly proceeded to call everything with wheels hot. Heh.
It’s a ride, a goofy, forgettable ride. One that throws up a debutant director with promise and actors who deserve to be in more films.
Give it a whirl. Like a Rado wristwatch that a character automatically dismisses for fake, this film may not look it but happens to be the real thing.