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Trial Period Review: Terribly Outdated

July 21, 2023 09:29 IST
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If Trial Period was not such a slight piece of film-making, it would have some problematic messaging, observes Deepa Gahlot. 

Some of the most macho leading men of Hollywood have done a film in which they had to cope with kids. The idea was comic: Little tykes felling a muscular hero with their cuteness.

It may be a bit outdated, since urban men are now routinely expected to share parenting duties.

Aleya Sen's Trial Period, trying to blend romcom with daddy issues, is not funny or dramatic enough, and the romance remains tepid at best.


Ana (Genelia Deshmukh) is a divorcee and working woman (though what she does is unclear) with a child, Romi (Zidane Braz), who gets by without any childminding -- the only support system being the older couple next door (Shakti Kapoor-Sheeba Chaddha), in a Delhi colony.

However, because he is fatherless, he gets bullied at school and is unable to make friends.

Though he is old enough to know better, influenced by the neighbour's penchant for watching a teleshopping television show, Romi demands a dad for a month-long trial period. Instead of talking sense into him, Ana seriously considers it, meeting a large number of weirdos in the process.

Meanwhile, Prajapati Dwivedi or 'PD' (Manav Kaul), lands up from Indore at the employment agency of his uncle (Gajraj Rao), hoping to get a teaching job in Delhi.

To solve his lodging problem temporarily, the uncle sends him to take up the rent-a-dad position for a month.

Ana approves of him, and lets him stay in the bungalow's barsati, in return for looking after Romi.

It looks like she actually needs a housekeeper and babysitter because how many Indian dads stay at home, cook and pack their kids' tiffins?

Ana wants him to botch the job, so that Romi gets over his father fixation, but PD is a natural-born papa.

Romi mistakenly believes that dads are supposed to be superheroes, and initially finds PD boring.

But the man's a marvel.

Apart from cooking, he knows yoga, music, astronomy, wrestling, swimming and a whole lot of other skills that dads supposedly have. He is also capable of transforming from a village bumpkin to a suave suited dude.

He wins over Romi easily, Ana is a tougher nut to crack.

The arrangement raises no eyebrows because in the Delhi colony; Ana knows just one neigbouring couple and has no domestic help or visiting handyman. And it does not need much thought to predict which way the story will go.

If Trial Period was not such a slight piece of film-making, it would have some problematic messaging.

Many households are run by single women today, but the film seems to suggest that women are inadequate at parenting on their own.

Ana, who does not date or go out, presumably because of the kid, does not even notice signs of bruising on his body or wonder why he is unhappy and insisting on a father.

Also, in today's world, which sensible mother would leave her child in the care of a male stranger?

Genelia Deshmukh and Manav Kaul belong to different schools of performance, so while she goes into full Bollywood overacting mode, he takes the role much too seriously.

At least, the child knows that 'dimpled moppet' is expected of him, and delivers.

Trial Period is a letdown mainly because it does not utilise the opposites attract potential for comedy nor does it look at the urban nuclear family and changing parenting roles with fresh eyes.

PD just seems to be mansplaining all the time, like those irritating men in ads smugly telling women which detergent or cooking oil to use.

Trial Period streams on JioCinema.

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