Yaatris works neither as a comedy nor as a family drama, points out Deepa Gahlot.
The idea must have looked workable on paper -- a dysfunctional family rediscovering family ties when on holiday. But the journey of Harish VyasYaatris just never takes off.
Having set the film in Banaras, and cast Raghubir Yadav and Seema Pahwa -- who could probably just roll out of bed and into character, because they have done dozens of similar parts -- the film strains to be funny in establishing an unhappy family.
They bicker endlessly because of a shortage of money, which, by itself, is nothing new. Millions in the country have the same problem! Pushkar Sharma (Yadav) is about to retire from his job with a pathology lab; his wife Saroj (Pahwa) sells bedsheets door-to-door, work made redundant by online shopping sites.
The daughter Minu (Jamie Lever) works at a call centre job from home, the son Mahi (Anuraag Malhan) is a wastrel.
During one of their blowouts, the family accuses Pushkar of having done nothing for them. So, without consulting them, he buys tickets for a holiday in Bangkok of all places!
It's an hour into the film, and nothing has happened. Nothing that could pass off as humorous at any rate.
Pushkar encounters a lonely old man (M K Raina) who pines for his negligent family, but this episode is not connected to anything that happens before or after.
Okay then, you think, there will be some laughs at the cost of hicks going abroad, and making fools of themselves.
Though, in this Internet age, there is no excuse for the whole family to be unaware of a time difference, so they end up stuffing their faces at breakfast, thinking it is free, and being presented with a bill, because it is past the complimentary hour.
One moment Pushkar is complaining about expenses, the next they are splashing on cabs for sight-seeing, and shopping. Their common sense may be lacking, but their wardrobe does undergo a change.
The audience gets a very small, touristy glimpse of Bangkok and Pattaya, for which they could have seen any number of ads and Insta reels; and yes, there is a very unfunny scene in a massage parlour!
The squabbling and sulking that started in Banaras, continues in Bangkok, and gets simply tiresome.
There is just no sense of how the plot should proceed, so there is a random chase through the streets with Minu and Mahi being pursued by goons; there is some sudden brother-sister bonding, and resurgence of romantic vibes between the senior couple, but nothing remotely interesting.
When finally, the big moment that tests family ties, arrives, it is so banal-- why is this creaking plot device even being used (not mentioning it to avoid spoilers, but it can be guessed).
Could the writer (Aryan Saha) or director not have thought of a better, more original device to bring the family together?
The financial woes of the Sharmas, with which the film began, are completely forgotten!
Yaatris works neither as a comedy (Jamie Lever's funny gal potential sadly unused), nor as a family drama, which, for an Indian film should have been a breeze, considering how much of it goes around in films and TV with enough to spare for OTT.