“Love has no expiry date,” proclaims our 47-year-old hero as he desperately tries to break away from his bachelorhood and speed his way to “happily ever after”.
That’s something most Bollywood heroes attempt to do within the 3-hour screen time anyway. Only this time, it’s the man’s aging loneliness and inquisitive Zoroastrian bloodline that takes centrestage and lends the story a distinct charm.
Although the movie doesn’t steer away from the run-of-the-mill Bollywood love story, with ample romantic clichés and song-and-dance sequences thrown in, it gets credibility for its fine casting that stayed exclusively to true-blooded Parsis. Even the leading lady’s mother shares similar heritage.
Bollywood eventually matures to the 40s, with spotlight on grown-up lovers exploring the nuances of love with equal charm and bashful fun. In fact, they sing and dance at any given opportunity, much like on-screen couples half their age. They even steal coy smiles in slow-motioned frames.
While ‘Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi’ doesn’t attempt to do away with the fundamental Bollywood trappings, it scores for its few genuinely endearing moments and fine performances by its stellar cast.
The story unfolds with the elementary boy meets girl pitch, or in this case, (“old”) man meets woman.
Farhad Pastakiya’s attempts at love, and eventually marriage, within his Zoroastrian community turn into a failure because of his dishonourable salesman job at a lingerie store. Until one day, his bad luck wears off and Shirin Fugawala walks into his shop.
Their love blossoms, almost instantly, but it is goes through its share of ups and downs. There’s Farhad’s domineering mother and their own inner insecurities that play spoilsport. But, eventually, love conquers all, even Farhad and Shirin.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali writes a simple, straightforward story for his sister Bela Bhansali Sehgal’s directorial debut, but he ensures it is layered aesthetically in Parsi twang and eccentricities.
And it works, mostly because he has picked the perfect man to play Farhad Pastakiya.
Boman is purely magical in his act, lending a delightful vulnerability and awkwardness to the spinster without going over-the-top. For most parts, the movie rides entirely on him, and he doesn’t let it slip.
His partner-in-love, Farah Khan’s clumsy, chubby debut almost seems rehearsed for the part, but it could be debated. It’s when she has to match up to Boman that the flaws appear far more harmful. Yet, she tries to flash a smile and wriggle out of most crucial, dramatic challenges.
It’s only during the dances that she truly comes alive, with her choreographer movie career tuned brilliantly to the colourful ‘Ramba Mein Samba’. Boman, too, matches up to her moves so adorably.
Special credit must also be given to the Parsi supporting cast, who’ve often made an appearance, albeit for comic relief, in many Bollywood movies. Daisy Irani is astoundingly talented, and the script allows her to scheme and scream in plenty. Her loveable, screen mom Shammi also joins in on the fun.
While Munnabhai’s aid for medical know-how Rustum Pavri was a hit, Kurush Deboo is given nothing more than a gun and a strange temperament to flourish in this movie. He does give it a shot, but it isn’t impressionable. Even the chubster Kavin Dave is given barely a few minutes to dish out dating tips to his virgin friend.
The most impressionable is the man who plays Feroze as he battles his insanity to convince Indira Gandhi that she should marry him and not the “wrong Feroze”, even dictating to Farhad, letters that bear his love and madness.
In little less than two hours, this is a movie that has got its heart in the right place. Yes, it does.