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Review: This Dukaan Delivers Only Baloney!

Last updated on: April 05, 2024 12:59 IST

Its callous perspective and comical treatment of a sensitive matter makes a complete hash of things, asserts Sukanya Verma.

A group of heavily pregnant women holding big matkss next to their bare baby bumps walk past a stepwell in small-town Gujarat against the sound of blaring folk music.

Dukaan's opening scene is just the first of many scenes that makes a spectacle out of pregnancy to the point of objectifying it.

Truly mind boggling how all these women in Siddharth-Garima's directorial debut are always at the exact same stage of gestation sporting the exact same-sized bellies.


For a movie that claims to sympathise with commercial surrogacy, which has been banned in India since 2015, it sure goes overboard in painting a horrific picture.

It's like bonus points are earned every time the camera fixates on women parading their final trimester tummies in low-waist ghagras, throwing up, receiving injections, and going into labour when her water breaks and the gynaecologist's cries of 'Push kar!' cut to Pushkar in Rajasthan.

I don't know if the last bit is meant to be a facepalm moment but a bunch of foreigner clients gathering outside a 'baby factory' complaining, 'We've come all the way from Israel' certainly was.

They're upset because the clinic's star surrogate has disappeared with another's baby.

Why do they care?

Why aren't they inquiring about their own surrogate?

How come they know this and the missing baby's extended family does not?

You'll never know.

Instead, the focus shifts on an incoherent chronology between 1980s to 2010s telling us the absconding Jasmine's (Monika Panwar) back story.

Growing up around an abusive father inspires her to invent a blade-sewn choli armour while her submissive mom's miscarriage (lest we forget stairs and pregnant women are a recipe for disaster in Hindi movies) puts her off kids.

Jasmine grows up into a racy young woman whose raging hormones convince her to marry the first decent guy (Sikandar Kher) in her path despite a daughter almost her age.

Against her will, Jasmine becomes a mom but maternal instincts continue to elude her.

Criminally ignoring her firstborn, as does this movie, she develops an emotional connection across her fourth pregnancy following a dream about an unborn sibling she was looking forward to.

There's never a dull moment in Dukaan's chanchal mann ati random state of mind. Like when Sunny Deol pops out of nowhere in support of surrogate moms with threats from his legendary 'haath' as if in a public service announcement ad.

From earthquakes to dreams, Siddharth-Garima's wayward plot goes wild concocting contrivances and senseless developments to justify its mood swings and Jasmine's decision to become a professional surrogate.

Mostly though, they channel their songwriting energy to transform Dukaan into a lumbering musical, relentlessly inserting song after song for every scene, second, emotion, expression of its 147 minutes duration.

Probably influenced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali's visual fantasies in films they collaborated on like Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram Leela, Siddharth-Garima's attempts to follow suit end in everybody and everything looking straight out of a Gujarat emporium.

Truth be told, Dukaan's sloppiness knows no bounds.

The news of someone's death is delivered like an Amazon package at the door.

Guests at any function act like gossips openly passing judgement and frowning on the practice of surrogacy.

Why are these clowns invited in the first place? So that Dukaan's hammy lot of awful actors has something to chime in.

The performances are all over the place, especially the one's playing parents of the boy Jasmine has grown fond of, Monali Thakur and Soham Majumdar.

One squeaking and another nodding 'exactly' at every argument leave Monika Panwar to do all the salvaging.

Following her fiery street rat in Mast Mast Rehne Ka, Panwar continues her spitfire act here as well except Dukaan's obnoxious ideas portray her something between a crook and caricature. Demanding respect for her role in society yet herself lacking in ethics make her something of a contradiction than crusader.

Women lending their womb to carry someone else's baby has done less to normalise the concerns around In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and more to highlight the attachment of the surrogate as well as the insecurity it may bring about in the natural parents as witnessed in movies like Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Filhaal and Mimi.

Dukaan takes it down several notches.

Its callous perspective and comical treatment of a sensitive matter makes a complete hash of things.

Between its graphic look at bringing a baby in the world and offensive notions about surrogacy, adoption and abortion, Dukaan delivers nothing except baloney.

Dukaan Review Rediff Rating: